Interview with Sara Taylor, author of The Shore
29 Jun 2015
Tell us a little bit about your new release, The Shore.
The Shore follows the turning points in the lives of several generations of two families living on a remote series of islands as they come into conflict with the landscape, each other, and themselves. It explores the concepts of gender and responsibility, the limits of loyalty, and the complications of relationship over a span of nearly three hundred years, stretching back to 1876 and forward to 2143.
At least, that’s what I think it’s about. Readers are very welcome (and quite likely) to decide that, for them, it’s about something else entirely.
What inspired you to move from rural Virginia to abroad?
I spent my third year of college studying in Britain, and it was the first time that I’d ever really felt at home in a place. In America I didn’t ‘fit’ – I’d been homeschooled, thoroughly insulated from general culture by protective parents, and simply did not know how to interact the way people expected me to. I moved abroad as soon as I could because in Britain anything odd that I do or say is excused by my being ‘foreign.’ Now, England probably feels like home because I’ve spent most of my (admittedly brief) adult life here; I’m not entirely sure if I’d be capable of operating in America as an adult, if I tried to move back.
Think back to the release day of The Shore. What was going through your mind?
The morning was spent mostly in the hope that people would enjoy it, that it would impact at least one person in the way that certain books have impacted me, followed closely by relief that it was finished. But I remember very distinctly picking up a copy of the book and flicking through to find a good section for the reading I was going to that evening, and thinking to myself, I bet I could do better now that I’m older…
What are you currently craving?
Ink. There is no such thing as too much ink. And a fountain pen that doesn’t dry up and scratch when I write too quickly. And the time to finish the next book. But mostly ink.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
That’s a hard question to answer. I’d probably have to go with Diana Wynne Jones. There are a lot of writers who are important to me, but her books were the lifeline of my childhood; I can remember where I was and what calamity I was escaping with each one. And the ‘why’ would be to thank her – and then to break the cardinal rule and ask all the questions about her work that I’ve never found the answers to.
What is the one movie that you can quote the most?
It’s a toss-up between Monty Python’s Holy Grail and – especially if all of the callbacks count – The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Where is your happy place?
Probably the local pet shop, as close to the rabbits as I can get without getting into the enclosure with them. I have a terminal soft spot for rabbits.
What was it like going from student to teacher in the classroom?
It was completely terrifying until I realized that my students have no idea how much I really don’t know. By the middle of this first term of proper teaching I had begun to really enjoy it, especially the one creative writing class I got to run. I was a bit surprised by just how much of the material we covered that I learned for the first time – there were lots of things that I should have gotten as a student that I only really understood when it came time for me to explain them to other people.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
It seems to be a reflexive thing. I started making little picture books before I knew how to write, and then started filling notebooks as soon as I could make a pencil reliably do what I wanted it to. It’s the only thing that I’ve consistently done my entire life. From when I was fifteen to about twenty-five lots of well-meaning people suggested practical work I could do, since ‘writing isn’t really a job.’ I spent a lot of time trying to find external justification for my writing, and spent a good while fretting about finding a ‘real’ career path before I realized that being an adult and well-meaning does in no way mean that a person isn’t an idiot.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” Which could be considered more of a personality flaw, depending on whom you ask. A lot of the more difficult things in live that I’ve managed to do have happened in part because people told me I wouldn’t be able to do them – getting into graduate school, moving abroad, even finding a publisher.
“The Shore: a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia. The Shore is clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes.”
Intrigued? Pick up The Shore today!
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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.