Lisa C. Taylor will present the first workshop (How to Write Fiction) in a new “How-To” series at Bank Square Books in Mystic this Sunday afternoon, November 15th, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. The cost is $25/person and includes a copy of the author’s new short story collection, “Growing a New Tail.” Participants must be 15 years of age or older. Registration can be completed online or by calling the store at 860-536-3795. Location: 53 W. Main St.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Lisa C. Taylor.
Ms. Taylor is the author of the new short story collection, “Growing a New Tail” (Arlen House). She has previously published four collections of poetry including “Necessary Silence” (2013) and “The Other Side of Longing” (2011), a collaborative collection with Irish poet and writer Geraldine Mills. Taylor’s work has been widely published in national and international magazines, journals, and anthologies. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both poetry and fiction. Taylor facilitates writing workshops and teaches creative writing to adults and children in both the United States and Ireland; she also writes nonfiction and blogs at www.poetobservations.wordpress.com.
Critical response to “Growing a New Tail” has been enthusiastic. Suzanne Strempek Shea, author of “This is Paradise”, praised: “Join me in marveling at how deftly Lisa C. Taylor makes the leap to prose even incorporating some braiding of forms in this strong short fiction collection fittingly about reinvention. This book is populated memorably by characters who must find their footing after their lives have been irreparably altered by loss or circumstance.” Further, Richard Hoffman, author of “Love and Fury,” noted: “These stories will move you with their honesty and sustain you with their compassionate and fierce commitment to human resilience. The writing here is exquisite, the observations nearly preternatural, the intelligence incandescent.”
From the publisher:
A recent widow seeks the services of a psychic, two children are placed in a witness protection program, a young woman is discovered hiding in a garden shed, and a doctor suddenly disappears. The characters in Lisa C. Taylor’s debut collection of short stories inhabit worlds as familiar as your local restaurant and as strange as a locked ward in a psychiatric hospital. These stories take the reader on a dark but ultimately redemptive ride.
Now, Lisa C. Taylor offers readers a glimpse inside her writer’s life …
John Valeri: You have a new collection of short stories out. What are the unique joys and challenges of this format – and are there unifying elements, or themes, to this particular work?
Lisa C. Taylor: In my new collection, “Growing a New Tail,” all eighteen stories feature characters who must somehow reinvent themselves due to circumstance, trauma, loss, or their own mental state. I became interested in this idea because events can randomly force any one of us to change our priorities. The characters are varied and not all of them are sympathetic or reliable as narrators of their story.
The particular joy of short fiction for me is the chance to immerse myself in the life of a character. It truly is the character’s story and I must be true to that. I’ve been influenced by my time in Ireland (I publish in both countries) and Irish short stories which are often dark, sometimes with humorous elements. I prefer stories that open up at the end—without telling all.
HBE: You are also a poet. How do seemingly disparate writing disciplines inform one another – and in what ways does creativity and imagination help us to make sense of the world?
LCT: I’ve written poetry as long as I can remember—even winning a National Scholastic poetry award in high school. My other four collections are poetry—and two have been published by this publisher (including a collaborative collection with Irish writer Geraldine Mills). Short stories have a lot in common with poetry—the form is concise and a writer needs to do a lot in a short space of time. I’m drawn to that—and even very short stories or flash fiction which is included in this collection. In fiction I access my imagination in a different way. Poetry feels more contemplative. Both are compelling though right now I’m immersed in stories and I do believe I’ll be continuing with this.
HBE: You also teach. How much of writing talent do you believe is intrinsic versus what can be learned? Also, what is the role of tenacity in success?
LCT: I have taught for many years—starting at a creative writing department in an arts high school– and now in a college. Good teachers and mentors have been paramount to my own development as a writer and it’s a way of giving back. I believe that craft can be learned. It is arguable whether or not people are born with talent or simply have the passion and tenacity to develop it. At any rate, I teach everyone with the thought that the next great writer may be in my classroom. All writing matters—whether it is a way of better understanding oneself or a gift to the larger world. Every culture has stories and my workshops help participants give voice to the stories inside of them. It is an honor to teach and I view my role as more of a gentle guide than an ultimate authority. I, too, continue to learn. Good writing requires time commitment and patience—and yes, tenacity. All writers experience more rejections than acceptances.
HBE: In your opinion, what is the role of the bookstore within its community – and how can author events enhance the reader/writer/bookseller relationship?
LCT: I love bookstores—the smell, the ambience. I’ve launched my recent collections in bookstores in Ireland—Kennys—an iconic bookstore in Galway and recently Charlie Byrne’s—another bookstore in Galway. The booksellers are my people—keen readers and committed supporters of the written work. I take every opportunity to steer people to brick and mortar bookstores rather than online book purchases. Author events (and happily workshops) do bring people together. I do a lot of book talks and I’m always amazed at the diversity of people who attend such events. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things—having thoughtful readers ask questions about my work. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
HBE: Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?
LCT: Next for me will be a novel—I hope. The first story in my new collection is an excerpt from a novel that I’m about halfway through—but it’s only a draft. I’ve been playing with form and this novel will contain some braiding of form. I hope it will be a novel about the changing family dynamics of the twenty-first century—a topic I find compelling.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my writing life with you!
Readers are welcome to visit my web site www.lisactaylor.com or follow me on Twitter @dreamingchange
I also have an Amazon author page.
With thanks to Lisa C. Taylor for her generosity of time and thought.
Don’t forget: The author will facilitate a “How to Write Fiction” workshop at Bank Square Books in Mystic this Sunday afternoon, November 15th, at 2:00 p.m.