Meet the M.M. Bennetts Award winner, Greg Taylor. Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
Discovery of a dusty old book or scroll in the ruins of a place that was once magnificent. Then a flashback showing the original state of the ruin the way its builder’s intended.
What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
A short story included in my college applications that no doubt constitutes good blackmail material, probably languishing under a dust blanket beside the tape of my senior organ recital.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
Robin. He pursues truth and justice in the limelight of Batman.
Who are your partners in crime?
The cackling witches of Macbeth.
What are their superpowers?
They make people laugh by pointing out the baffling inconsistencies in people’s behaviour.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
A ship under construction, with the keel laid and the steel plates going up as my ideas take shape.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form?
Observing people and transposing their actions and emotions on to historical models, which are largely a blank canvas with only some sketched lines at the beginning.
How do you insure they are used only for good?
By remembering that even villains have their soft spots and heroes their weaknesses.
Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
I wore it on the Lusitania remembered voyage in May of this year when I met the Cunard Lines captain: white tie but with a black fur collar on the tailcoat. Perhaps with winged shoes that can fly, like Mercury.
What is your kryptonite?
Correspondence from descendants of characters in my book. I have a wonderful Christmas card from the Duke of Marlborough with a photo of Blenheim Palace in the snow and inside written as simply as you please: Marlborough. Nothing else needed saying.
What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Avoiding the distraction of too much research, although I enjoyed that immensely. There were days I sat down to work on the book in my pyjamas and then suddenly looked at my watch to discover I was due at a dinner party in twenty minutes and hadn’t even showered yet.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
Fear of looking foolish. The little gnome was sitting with crossed legs on my computer when I pushed my fingers through him to send the email announcing my book and inviting people to the launch party at the Royal Institute of British Architects.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Outline your plan and stick with it, using every available minute no matter how inappropriate the place or time available may seem for writing.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
Meeting the descendants of my main characters and visiting places they lived and experienced.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I could have saved time by having more discipline in writing a shorter first draft. However, I distilled it down with excellent input from a group of friendly readers and I wouldn’t change that process for anything.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
From Salman Rushdie at a London dinner party, who told me to identify your main character and tell their story, dropping everything that doesn’t help you achieve that goal.
Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
Lusitania R.E.X weaves intrigues that are unproven but possible into the factual material that is already a dramatic and mysterious tale in its own right. The sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 was a shock similar to World Trade Center attack for Americans so it resonates with our experiences today.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I am stewing some ideas in a giant pot, including an extension of Wally’s experience of the First World War. Wally is an important character in Lusitania R.E.X that is a composite of four real women.
You can find Greg at: