Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Generally Horrible Questions: Taylor Stevens

In honor of the release of her new novel, The Innocent, we decided to subject author Taylor Stevens to some unwarranted torture and ask her some questions.  Taylor broke onto The New York Times bestseller list with her first novel, The Informationist, which unleashed protagonist Vanessa Michael Munroe on the world.  A huge fan of Robert Ludlum, Taylor set about creating a book series in the vein of Ludlum's Jason Bourne, but with a bad ass woman at the center.  Other things to know--Taylor grew up in a religious cult, has lived all over the world, and therefore has limited formal education and pop culture references.  She lives in Texas now, and will be touring to some of our favorite bookstores soon.

Generally Horrible Questions: Taylor Stevens

1. What are your three desert island books (and no, the Twilight books don’t count as just one so choose carefully)?
How to Survive on a Deserted Island, Boatbuilding for Beginners, and Pencil, Paper and Stars: The Handbook of Traditional and Emergency Navigation. I’m practical like that.

2. What is your all time favorite book?
Picking favorites is just way too much commitment.  [Hmmm...okay, there, Vanessa Michael Munroe.]

3. What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Seriously? I was born and raised in a cult, spent my formative years as child labor and out begging on the street and you ask me what the worst job I ever had was? Oh. You mean paying job? Well, in that case, it would be handling customer service for a start-up company whose management felt that in spite of horrendous problems within the shipping department, faulty software, and procedures and “upgrades” that changed every three weeks, that the person at my desk (namely, me) was the cause of the negative customer response. I quit. Then they fired me. Then they shorted me on my last paycheck which also bounced two times before the bank tellers took pity, looked over the company account and told me that if I, wink wink, came in the day after tomorrow before nine, they should be able to get that check counter cashed for me. No, I’m not bitter. (Yes I am.) [So you never worked at Starbucks?]

4. What book can’t you shut up about?
Whatever the next book inside my head is… the one that I’m trying to figure out how to write.

5. What book changed your life?
Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Ultimatum. That’s what I was reading when the flash of aha struck and I decided to write fiction. Were there no Jason Bourne, there would be no Michael Munroe.

It’s a character codependent kind of thing.

6. What was the first thing you did when you found out you would be published?
Burst into tears and started laughing all at the same time. I was at work when my agent called me with the news, and although I probably shouldn’t have, since I couldn’t tell my boss what I really thought of the company management, I told her the size of my advance instead. Good therapy.

7. Favorite book to movie? Liz and I like to reenact The Color Purple. I’m Celie, Liz is Nettie.
I have read so few books and watched so few movies that this question is like a pop-quiz for a subject I never studied. [Not a problem.  We can act out the whole movie.  You'll love it.  Liz is Miss Sophia, Gianna is Harpo.] 

8. What was your back-up plan?
People have back-up plans?

9. Gianna or Liz?
I read your blog. I know how this game is played. The answer is always Liz. But now that I’ve fulfilled my obligation: I heart Gianna. [Liz.  Final answer.]

10. Where do you write?
Sometimes my bed. Sometimes a couch. Sometimes my desk. Kind of depends on the day and how many hours I’m in front of the computer.

11. What’s your cure for writer’s block?
Boy do I wish I had one. I feel like I experience writer’s block every single day. The only remedy I know is to show up at my desk like it’s a job, to sit at my computer and write something, anything: bits and pieces. Threads. Concepts. Until gradually there’s some material there to work with. And then I’m not allowed to do anything else until I’ve finished the words I need for the day. I go to bed, and wake up the next morning, and do that all over again. It’s a good excuse for why my house is a mess most of the time.

12. Do your kids “get” what you do? Are they amply impressed?
They do get it, but I have to admit their “amply” waxes and wanes in direct correlation to whether that day (sometimes hour) is one in which I’m

Iguazu Falls
the “worst mom in the entire world” or “the best.”

13. Robert E Lee, Robert Redford, Robert Ludlum, Robert Louis Stevenson or Julia Roberts?
I don’t understand how this is even a question. [You're right.  It's so obviously Robert E. Lee.  Gianna loves that beard too.]

14. What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done or seen?
I saw Iguazu (the waterfalls) not so long ago. That, if not the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, ranks pretty high up there. [Wait until you see Liz and Gianna's The Color Purple.  You'll never forget it.]

15. What is the total body count in The Informationist and The Innocent? 

It’s. Um. Er. I think. Um. Honestly, I have no idea. But people die. [Yes they do....]


  1. Love your books!

  2. I loved both books. Looking forward to the third one.