Author Spotlight: Jodi Taylor
My name is Jodi Taylor. I started writing about ten years ago and there really should be some wort of warning on the packet because once you start writing you just can’t stop. I think it was Terry Pratchett who said, ‘Writing is the most fun you can have on your own,’ and he was right.
I had actually retired and no sooner could I legitimately lie around doing nothing than I became bored. Even though I had no writing aspirations I thought I’d see if I had the mental discipline to write a book. I had no thought of being published and certainly no thought of writing so many books.
Regarding what I write – I suppose my flagship series is The Chronicles of St Mary’s – the stories of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who jump back in time to witness major historical events – Thermopylae, the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the assassination of Julius Caesar – all that sort of thing. Obviously things always go horribly wrong because it’s no fun if it doesn’t.
I also write the Time Police series, which is a kind of spin-off from St Mary’s, the Frogmorton Farm series, the Elizabeth Cage series and – because I really don’t know when to stop – a Regency Romance.
I’m not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean a piece of work I wrote? If so, perhaps I could tell you about a short story I’ve just finished. It’s this year’s Christmas story – yes, I do like to plan ahead. It’s called The Toast of Time – because for historians, the Toast of Time always falls butter side down. Obviously I don’t want to give too much away – it’s a very light-hearted story and in no way meant to be taken seriously, but I’ve managed to combine such disparate elements as a bad-tempered sheep, two Faberge eggs, the local parish council, a stolen Bentley, and a legendary sword. And that’s only the first part. Everyone behaves very irresponsibly and it was great fun to write.
Do it. Don’t prevaricate or put it off. Write. People sometime write to me saying, ‘I’ve had a brilliant idea for a book. Shall I write to a publisher now?’ and the answer is no. Not only will a publisher want a whole book, if they like it and they’re interested the first question will be, ‘When can we have the second book?’ So don’t just sit there – write.
Don’t be daunted by all those blank pages in front of you. I choose a good strong scene from around the middle and start with that because then I can move either backwards or forwards from there. If I get stuck there’s always another area I can work on. I don’t know if it’s because my mind doesn’t work in a linear fashion, but there’s no rule that says you have to begin at the beginning and work your way through to the end. I never feel comfortable with a book until I know how it’s going to end. Sometimes the beginning is the last thing I write because I know the characters better then. Hope that makes sense.
There is no favourite time, I’m afraid. I’m English and we drink tea all the time. The first one in the morning brings me round gently to face the horrors of the day. The second, third, fourth and fifth reinforce that good feeling. Tea in the afternoon is relaxing. Tea in the evening is enjoyable while watching TV or reading a book. A cuppa last thing at night should aid sleep but actually means I’m up three or four times in the night. And yet I still do it …
Well, there’s my website – joditaylor.online.
Or there’s the Fans of St Mary’s Facebook page, where the great issues of the day are debated. Milk first or last in tea? Scones – jam or cream on top? What were Caesar’s last words? Who killed the Princes in the Tower? And so on.
And then there’s the Virtual St Mary’s site – Virtual St Mary’s by the Disaster Magnets, where everyone belongs to St Mary’s, has accommodation and a job, and they go on regular jumps and generally get themselves into trouble. A really good time seems to be had by all. They’re as bonkers as a sack full of frogs, of course, but mainly harmless. And if they do blow something up they’re awfully sorry afterwards.
Virtual St Mary’s Institute for Historical Research: www.andtheworldwentwhite.com