1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?
Well, I’m currently revising a novel I wrote almost two years ago with plans to publish it later this year. It’s called Against the Night, and it’s a mix of post-apocalyptic and planetary romance. It’s about an ex-mercenary who’s separated from her daughter and wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment on a failed colony planet populated by mutants, monsters, and cyborgs. It’s Pitch Black meets Fury Road. The concept evolved from a series of vignettes I wrote for a writer’s workshop, each from a different character’s perspective. Everyone loved the mix of high-tech and post-apocalyptic, so I just ran with it.
2) How did you get started writing science fiction?
I’ve written science fiction for as long as I can remember. I wrote dozens of short stories and even a couple short novels when I was in grade school, then started and abandoned dozens more throughout my teens and early college years. I got my undergraduate degree in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, then went on to get an MFA at the University of Southern Maine, where I met tons of cool people, worked with some terrific writers, and put together my first short story collection for Amazon.
3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?
I love all of them! My favorites are definitely space opera and cyberpunk, but I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic, dystopian, planetary romance, hard science fiction, steampunk, and Lovecraftian horror. I primarily write space opera, with shades of other sub-genres. Why do I like it? Because it’s expansive, and I’ve found I can tell just about any sort of story I want in that kind of setting.
4) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?
Adventure. Alien planets. Monsters. Spaceships. Faster-than-light travel. The list goes on and on. I wouldn’t necessarily consider those tropes more important than others, but they pop up more frequently than not. Some tropes I embrace, others I try to subvert. I think you need a bit of both. A lot of modern space opera tries to subvert many of the classic tropes. Take Alastair Reynolds for instance. His Revelation Space books share a vast, space opera type setting but with no FTL(faster than light), few Earth-like planets, and no humanoid aliens. I think tropes are useful, and it would be short-sighted to simply ignore all of them, but they should be used sparingly. Engaging fiction is a mix of the familiar and the strange, and striking the right balance is every writer’s challenge.
5) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?
Generally third. I love first person, but I’ve found third person limited works best for novels where many viewpoint characters are involved. You get the voice and attitude of first person, but can also create a sense of distance. This allows the author to slip in vital bits of information without having to resort to on-the-nose or expository dialogue, which always sounds clunky and unnatural. I generally prefer past tense, but I do like present tense for shorter works. It adds a sense of immediacy, especially when combined with first person.
6) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
The act of creation. I love coming up with new ideas and playing around with them before sitting down at the keyboard. To me, writing starts with imagination. I love getting excited about a new character or setting or technology, and I love putting them in scenes and figuring out how to construct a coherent narrative out of the images in my head.
7) What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Just getting that first draft down. I love editing, rewriting, and revising. Draft work is a slog. Some writers love the first draft phase, but I get frustrated when it doesn’t come out perfect the first time (which it never does). I’ll spend days agonizing over the right word or character/place name. I’ve gotten better about this over the years. I do a lot more pre-writing and outlining now, planning everything out before I ever type the first word of a story, which has helped reduce the amount of time/energy needed during revision.
8) What stories or authors influence your writing?
There’re so many, it’s impossible to list them all. In high school, Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy blew me away. I later discovered Alastair Reynolds and Neal Asher, who were the trifecta of space opera for me for a very long time. Recently, I’ve branched out into weird fiction, with writers like Jeff Vandermeer and Kameron Hurley coming in high on my list, and my all time favorite science fiction novel is Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. I still read new authors, and I love anthologies and short story collections.
9) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have
missed you didn’t create?
Great science fiction book you might have missed – The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. Great movie – check out Screamers starring Peter Weller. It’s a long-forgotten adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story called “Second Variety” that inspired, in part, my latest novel.
10) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?
I’m hoping to publish Against the Night on Amazon later this year, probably some time in the fall. I just need to rework some scenes and give it a good polish before it’s ready to go.
11) What’s the best way to find you online?
You can find me on my blog, taylorpwrites.com. I try to post a couple times a week, and I occasionally serialize some short fiction for free. Also, if you’re interested in supporting me, I’m writing one short story per month, which I’m posting on my Patreon page. You can get every story I post for the rest of 2019 for just a dollar a month!