Interview with Author Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is the author of What’s Not Said (She Writes Press, September 2020) and What’s Not True (She Writes Press, August 24, 2021). I’d like to thank her for this interview.

1. What is the theme of What’s Not Said?

Perhaps I’m an outlier among writers, but I didn’t start out with a preconceived theme or premise. Rather, I had an ending that had swirled in my mind for more than a decade. I relied on my characters to take me on their journey and get me there. However, when I read a good draft of the manuscript, I realized I had, in fact, woven a theme throughout.

Basically, I address the negative and debilitating effect emotional abuse can have on a marriage. Unlike physical abuse where there are visible bruises, emotional or domestic abuse is often invisible. As such, it’s often not taken as seriously as it should be as it can damage an individual’s mental health for decades, not just destroy relationships.

2. In what way was the experience of getting What’s Not Said published different than you expected?

As I wrote What’s Not Said, I initially explored traditional and self-publishing options–the pros and cons of each and the related processes. Along the way at a writing class, I met an author who had published with She Writes Press, an award-winning hybrid publisher. I had never heard of hybrid publishing, let alone She Writes Press. But I was blown away by the quality of the author’s paperback and how she described their process and people.

So, suddenly I had three options. I set a deadline and a plan for myself. Starting with traditional publishers, I queried agents and pitched to them at a couple of local conferences. I had several requests for full or partial manuscripts. One agent made an offer, but after considering their contract carefully and having it legally reviewed, I decided we weren’t on the same wavelength, so I declined. That was a momentous learning experience for me.

My initial plan was to query for five months, until the end of 2018. If nothing clicked, I’d begin the self-publishing process the beginning of 2019. I had done quite of bit of research into self-publishing and had even outlined how I would do that. I was ready to go down that route if need be.

In the middle of all that I took a leap of faith and submitted my manuscript to She Writes Press. Twelve days before the end of 2018, sitting in a parking lot waiting to pick up my granddaughter from school, I received an email from She Writes Press: they’d accepted my novel! And from that point on, it’s been a whirlwind. Of course, it was an obvious choice for me to publish the sequel, What’s Not True, with them as well.

3. How do you prepare and approach writing emotional scenes in your stories?

Writing emotional scenes can be showstoppers. It’s when it’s easy for writers to step away from their computers or notebooks and go for a walk. I’m no different. But we can’t attribute it to writer’s block, because pulling away from the scene while we work it through our psyche is still writing. Sometimes I’ll put on some mood music to get me over an emotional hump. More often than not, I just say out loud and loudly, “Just tell the story.” I’ll sit down, draft the scene, and then return to it later to read and edit. I try not to linger on that emotional scene too long, as I know without a doubt, there’ll be another one coming up that I’ll need to wrestle to the ground.

4. In What’s Not Said, “Bad Kassie” is the protagonist’s alter ego. Do you think we all have an alternate side?

Great question! Yes, if we have a conscious with an accompanying sub-conscious, I think we have multiple sides. Not necessarily the sixteen personalities of Sybil, though! And I’m not a psychologist, but in What’s Not Said, “Bad Kassie” serves a critical role in allowing the protagonist to let the reader know what she’s honestly thinking.

5. What books/genres do you read? What impact do they have on your writing?

Before I retired, I read a lot of non-fiction, especially business or self-help books. Now I read mostly fiction–historical, thrillers, mysteries, women’s. I love Stephen King. I’ve read many, not all, of his books. Each year, I try to fit in one King book. Currently, I’m reading If It Bleeds, a book of short stories. Reading King is always a master class from the greatest storyteller. I think it’s why I constantly encourage myself to “Just tell the story.” I do continue to sharpen the saw by reading books on the writing craft. Right now I’m reading a book on “Setting” as I’d like to improve how I describe places in my stories.

6. What are you working on now, and where can people find you?

Right now I’m focused on the launch of What’s Not True, the sequel to What’s Not Said, which is due out on August 24, 2021. In between promoting these two books, I’m drafting the next book in the trilogy, which I’d love to finish by the end of 2021, so I can get it published early in 2023, with any luck!

In 2022, I’m hoping to write the first cozy mystery in a series that will spin off a character I just created in the third book of the What’s Not series. This writing thing is so much fun!

People can find me all over social media and on my website, of course.

My website:
Follow me:
Twitter: @ValerieEMTaylor
Instagram: ValerieETaylor

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