Cate: Please welcome J.E. Taylor, will you please share a short bio with us?
J.E.: Hello Cate, I’m very glad to be here today. As far as a bio is concerned, I am a writer, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a mother, a wife and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order.
I first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after my daughter asked if I could do anything what would it be. From that moment on, I haven’t looked back. I’ve published five short stories between December of 2008 and today in Niteblade and Allegory e-zines and have three more queued up for eXcessica anthologies in 2011 and 2012. My latest short story ABYSS can be found under the staff submissions at Allegory (www.allegoryezine.com).
My first book, DARK RECKONING was released on July 5, 2010, which also happened to be my birthday! Personally, I can’t think of a better birthday gift, can you? It’s available in e-book format through my publisher FIDO Publishing as well as on Amazon and Smashwords and several other e-book distributor sites.
In addition to DARK RECKONING, I have another July release - this one on the erotic thriller side of the fence. SURVIVAL GAMES comes out next week - July 19th to be exact and it’s an edgy, erotic, hang by the edge of your seat thriller that received a four star review from Manic Readers. SURVIVAL GAMES is available in both e-book and paperback through eXcessica as well as Amazon and Smashwords and several other e-book distributors.
As an Assistant Editor of Allegory, an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, I get the pleasure of reading submissions from some very talented folks. Unfortunately, only 8 stories out of all the submissions make it to the final publication, so sorting through the pile and helping the editor make the final choices can be a bit like herding cats. The decisions are not always easy but Ty Drago does a great job of balancing the issue with a little of everything. It truly is a labor of love on all of our parts¸ especially for the zero-dollar paycheck, but the payoff in telling someone they’ve made it to the next level or they made the final cut is so worth it.
Recently, I also picked up content editor positions at both eXcessica and FIDO which has been not only rewarding but has also opened my eyes to some of the faux pas that I make. Awareness is a great thing and you don’t have to be an editor to reap the benefits, offering critiques in an online forum is another way to sharpen your own tool-set.
In addition to all this, I hold a full time “day” job, and cart my kids around to their after school activities. In short, I’m running around like a crazy woman - but I’d rather have it that way than sitting idle and I’m never too busy to help out a fellow writer. :)
Cate: Tell us about DARK RECKONING and SURVIVAL GAMES.
J.E.: In DARK RECKONING a sadistic killer stalks the secluded college town of Brooksfield, New Hampshire. With bodies piling up and rumors of the murders being part of sacrificial hazing rituals, the FBI plants Special Agent Steve Williams in a fraternity and his investigation takes a ninety degree turn into the bizarre when he’s introduced to Jennifer, a clairvoyant co-ed who swears the killer isn’t human.
Cat Connor, author of KILLERBYTE and TERRORBYTE recently read DARK RECKONING and said: “I loved Dark Reckoning - always had a soft spot for demon type horror/thrillers and this is fabulous. Just the right mix of terror and calm so I didn't have a heart attack while reading -- but came close! Excellent read for anyone who loves horror and a good love story. “
You can purchase DARK RECKONING on Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at www.FIDOPublishing.com.
SURVIVAL GAMES is scheduled for Release on July 19, 2010 and this is the first in the Games Trilogy, an erotic suspense series that’s sure to take the readers on a wild ride.
This book had it all, and even though I started off not knowing if I would truly like the content, I was blown away by how honest, true, emotional, and frightening it really was. J.E. Taylor has spun a story that is sure to catch reader’s attention and hold it until the last page. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge, make your toes curl from the eroticism, and make you feel love and sorrow, then I would highly suggest Survival Games. I can’t wait to read the other two books in what is to be a wonderful trilogy. Bravo Ms. Taylor! - Manic Readers
"Sexy, dark, and intense, Survival Games will bind you to the page, kiss you slowly and then kick you where it hurts the most; I couldn't stop reading until I knew who won the game... Jessica Connor is one amazing character, and Survival Games is one hot read!" - John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The 13th and Siren.
You have a choice of e-book or paperback with SURVIVAL GAMES and can purchase this at www.eXcessica.com or if you prefer to buy this from Amazon, it’s there as well.
Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
J.E.: Here’s an excerpt from DARK RECKONING:
Steve caught her and looked around frantically. “Wake up.” He softly tapped her cheeks. “Come on, baby, wake up.” Repeating the words he said two years ago drove panic into his voice. He glanced at the tub and back at Jennifer. “Jesus, wake up!” He shook her more violently than he intended.
Jennifer snapped her eyes open. The fear in his expression brought her around with lightning speed. “I’m awake,” she said as he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her against him. “I’m awake.” She looked around the room. The vision ebbed into her foggy memory. “You’re crushing me.”
Steve pulled away. He touched her face and sat back against the door jamb, watching as she blinked away the cobwebs. “What was that?” he asked when he was certain his voice wouldn’t shake.
“I saw her.”
Steve’s eyebrows creased, etching skepticism in his rugged features. “What are you talking about?”
“There were candles and she had a glass of wine.” She glanced at him. “Lavender scented candles, and a bottle of prescription pills. She emptied it with the wine.” Jennifer looked at the tub. “It was filled so the water was over her body, but not to the rim. There was a good four to five inches between the water line and the lip of the tub.” She took a deep breath and looked at her wrists, tracing the path of the razor blade. “She cut her wrists the long way and put the razor on the edge of the tub.” Jennifer closed her eyes. “And she was crying.” When she opened her eyes and looked at Steve, she was sorry she had gone into such detail.
Steve stood and slowly moved away from Jennifer. She had described the room exactly as he had found it, as he found Peggy. He wanted to believe her, he really did, but his life was based on fact and tangible evidence and this was as far from tangible as it got. A high pitch whine drowned the sound of his breathing and he reached for the door jamb, the air sharp, suffocating. He needed fresh air and he turned and walked out the door.
Jennifer followed him, her legs still wobbly even when they reached the end of the dock.
Steve glared at her. “What the hell are you doing? Do you think this will make me feel better?”
Jennifer stepped back.
“This isn’t a joke.” He grabbed her, digging his fingers into her arm. “It isn’t something to mock like you just did.” He jutted his chin toward the cottage.
“Let go!” The anger flared in her as well. “I saw what I saw, now let go!” She screamed and pushed at the same time.
His foot slipped on the edge of the dock and he lost his balance, falling back first into the lake, dragging her with him. The chill in the water slapped him back in control and he hauled himself onto the end of the dock, his wet clothing clinging to him, wringing an icy shiver from his bones.
Jennifer swam to the edge and he offered her his hand but she slapped it away. “I can get out by myself.” She pulled herself up next to him.
A few minutes of strained silence went by and then Steve started to chuckle. Shaking his head slowly from side to side in disbelief, the hysterics took hold. He gripped the edge of the deck shaking with his head hung over as the laughter belted out of him.
Jennifer watched, breaking into a smile, but she didn’t allow herself to laugh with him. She looked at the sparkling water, waiting for him to settle down.
“What are you, a f**king clairvoyant?” he asked.
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
J.E.: I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal ever since I was a little kid - everything supernatural from clairvoyance, to demons, to mind reading and ghosts. I even played with the Ouija board when I was a kid until the thing went crazy on us one day. Scared the living crap out of me, and only solidified my belief that we are not alone here. Many forces affect our lives, both good and evil and that’s the reservoir for my stories -- that and my nightmares. Those usually provide a pretty potent background for the ideas to take seed and grow.
And I’ve also had the opportunity to see some very evil acts and actually looked into a murderer’s eyes once. That experience was courtesy of my internship in a local television news shop. I was sent to the court house to monitor the proceedings of two very high profile murder cases - one during the regular proceedings and the other during death penalty deliberations. I was split between the two cases - going from court room to court room with another intern and if the jury reached a verdict while we were there - we were to call in for the reporters.
I am telling you, there was a distinct difference in the eyes of the defendants. When the one who was eventually found innocent actually looked at me, I saw a living breathing soul, one that was very frightened of his current situation. Honest eyes and I was glad the jury got the verdict right. Yeah, he was a petty thief, but he was not a murderer.
But the other one, the one that ultimately received the death penalty - well when his eyes swept over me, it scared the breath out of me - empty and soulless, and completely without remorse for what he had done. That experience was as frightening as the Ouija board freak out as a kid. I heard the details of the case as I sat in the back of the courtroom and I silently cheered when the verdict came back. If they had sealed him in a tin drum and set it out to sea for a slow painful death, that wouldn’t have been enough in my mind. So this is one of the reservoirs I tap into when I create a villain.
Cate: Chilling! How do you develop your plots and characters?
J.E.: There is no method to my madness here. I get an idea and I go with it. I let the story rule the direction. Sometimes I begin with the end scene and other times it’s the beginning - but it just is. I do noodle on the ideas. Hell the seven books I wrote between February of 2007 and December of 2008 were percolating as far back as high school. So those just poured out. The newer ideas are coming at a more human pace now since I’ve purged the lion share from the brain banks. As I said, there’s really no method I have in place, no motto except - JUST WRITE. Sometimes that produces crap - other times it doesn’t and those seven manuscripts have undergone some serious edits since the first brain dump. I’m still working my way through them - refining them into a publishable state.
Cate: That's my motto too. :) Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
J.E.: They’re definitely in my head even after the story is written. For instance, after finishing SURVIVAL GAMES in April of 2007, the characters clamored so much that I went on to write book two and three in that series. eXcessica picked up the three books in the Games Trilogy - MIND GAMES will be released on November 29, 2010 and END GAME is scheduled for February 14, 2011.
As far as Steve Williams is concerned, he’s my white night and his story is still spinning in my mind, I’ve got three finished books beyond DARK RECKONING and a fourth one in process that takes him into some very dark places, and he doesn’t get out unscathed. I’ve had fun wreaking havoc on his life, finding kinks in his armor and buttons to push that leave him teetering on the edge.
I rarely have nightmares about what I’m writing, beyond the one that sparks the idea, but the last full book in this series was different. So yes, sometimes they do come back to haunt me.
Cate: What's next for you?
J.E.: Editing and refining the three books in the Steve Williams series as well as my single title YA Science Fiction novel and then I’ll get back to finishing three manuscripts I have in process.
In the meantime, I’ll be marketing and promoting the four books already in the publishing machine, writing short stories and blogs and generally having a good time with this.
Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
J.E.: Intense, gripping, edgy.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
J.E.: Finding the time, at least for me that is challenging and if I get on a roll, stopping to resume life. I can’t stay up all night if the muse hits - not if I want to keep my day job. ;) Pulling myself away from the keyboard in those situations is painful.
The most rewarding is definitely the look in my children’s eyes. I’ve inspired them to reach for their dreams, to read more and even to try to craft stories of their own. That and the fact I’ve achieved some sort of mysterious coolness factor in their eyes. Enough so that they still want to hang with me. Go figure.
Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
J.E.: I let the VP of operations in the Broker/Dealer that I work for read VENGEANCE, which is the next book in the Steve Williams series (he read DARK RECKONING too) and after he finished it, he said: “I’m going to have to start being nicer to you.”
The second interesting comment was in relation to GRAYSON HOUSE a short story that was published in the September 2009 edition of Allegory. I let one of the father’s at my son’s Jukido class read it while class was in session. In the next class - he said the story really freaked him out. Enough so he couldn’t sleep for two nights - the first night he had to keep checking to make sure his doors and windows were locked. I took a certain warped delight in his reaction. That’s what the story was designed to do and having achieved that level of fright in a grown man made me want to do a tap dance across the gym floor.
GRAYSON HOUSE is now posted on my website at www.jetaylor75.com along with the other stories that have been published and archived.
Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
J.E.: Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, David Balducci, Kay Hooper, Jonathan Maberry, Heather Brewer, Sidney Sheldon, Harlan Coben, Heather Graham, Ty Drago.
I’m reading Jonathan Maberry’s Dragon Factory right now.
Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
J.E.: www.jetaylor75.com. I’m also on twitter and Facebook regularly and I’ve got a blog on both blogspot and wordpress as well. Links to my pages are on my website.
Take a gander and drop me a line via the guest book! I still get excited when I get notice that someone signed my guestbook.
Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
J.E.: What are the three things that truly frighten you?
Cate: Readers, J.E. Taylor is giving away a signed copy of Survival Games to a random commenter... so start commenting. She will draw the winner’s name notify the winner and post the winner’s name here.
Thanks for being my guest, J.E. Best of luck to you.