Last week I posted my review of THE INNOCENT, the second novel by New York Times best selling author Taylor Stevens. And this week, as promised, here is my interview with this most intriguing author.
HB: In my first interview with you, you mentioned initially writing THE INFORMATIONIST as a way to bring the exotic worlds of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to life for readers. What was your impetus for writing THE INNOCENT?
TS: It was pretty much the same impetus, just a different exotic world. I am so often asked if I’d be willing to talk a little about my life growing up in the Children of God, but it was such a bizarre and often-changing environment that it’s impossible to accurately summarize in even a couple of paragraphs or even one article. So basically, in THE INNOCENT, my intent was to do what I did in THE INFORMATIONIST, which was to take the readers hand and say, come let me show you a world you’ll hopefully never experience, and I will try to do it in a way that is also thrilling and entertaining.
HB: I know you were able to rely somewhat on memory and personal experience while writing THE INNOCENT. But when research is required, how do you handle it?
TS: Much of what I write involves foreign locations and although I can get a general idea of what I’m working with by utilizing the Internet, mostly what I get is anxiety while I wonder how much I’m getting wrong. My solution so far has been to visit the places in question and to interview and talk to people who are experts in subjects with which I’m unfamiliar, but considering the ideas that I have for Munroe number four, I may soon have to cross my fingers and settle for the anxiety.
HB: It’s totally awesome the way Munroe kicks butt! How do you go about crafting those page-turning action scenes? Are you trained in martial arts or fighting techniques?
TS: One day I’d like to learn Krav Maga (which is the closest to the way Munroe fights) but I’m still very much a scaredy-cat in real life. Many readers do comment on the vividness and intensity of the action sequences, but I think the credit is theirs, not mine. I try to avoid over-explaining every single move that each character makes, instead focusing on what they are thinking/ feeling while the action is occurring, and I believe this allows the readers’ own imagination to fill in the blanks and create the intensity and visual sharpness.
HB: How big a factor do you feel social media has played in your success?
TS: I spend a lot of time on Facebook and a little bit on Twitter, but I do it for the purpose of interacting with my readers and fans, not necessarily to promote my books. I’ve never really put a lot of effort into social media for the purpose of promotion as that feels so much like screaming into the wind. I do think that social media has played a role, but more as a byproduct of how people communicate in this day and age—one person to the next in a word-of-mouth sort of way. I’m very grateful that my readers have felt this series is worth talking about!
HB: I understand you're in the process of editing your third Vanessa Michael Munroe novel, THE DOLL. Can you give us any hints as to what it’s about?
TS: In THE DOLL, Vanessa Michael Munroe is thrust into a world of human trafficking and sexual slavery, forced to deliver a missing Hollywood starlet to a client in order to protect the ones she loves. If she succeeds, she'll guarantee the young girl's demise, and if she fails, seal the fate of others. Win or lose, Munroe will pay her dues in the only currency she values: innocent life, and so must choose who lives, who dies, or find a way to outthink and outsmart a man who holds all the cards.
HB: Is there a question which no interviewer ever asks that you wish they did?
TS: Only once have I ever been asked by an interviewer how much of what’s already in print about me is accurate. I wish people would ask that more because I have rarely read an article or interview about me or my work that is 100% factual. I have been lied to, and about, and deliberately misquoted, but most of the time the errors aren’t malicious—just mistakes and/or misunderstandings on the part of the interviewer. But the thing is, when people read stuff in print they assume that a quote is something I really said, in context, word for word. Half the time, it’s not.
Thanks so very much, Taylor! (Uh…hopefully, I didn’t get any quotes wrong, but please let me know if I did!)