Tuesday 17 December 2013

Getting to Know … T.E. Taylor

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
I’ve never really been particularly comfortable with pigeonholing novels into genres, but Zeus of Ithome is undoubtedly a historical novel – it weaves the lives of fictional (and some real) characters around events that actually took place.  It certainly won’t be my last historical novel, but I don’t see myself as writing only historical fiction – indeed, the one I’m writing now (see below) is quite different, and rather difficult to classify.   

What made you choose that genre?
Well, it really chose me!  I knew a little about the ancient Messenians, and had never given them very much thought, but when I learned more about their long struggle to retain their identity and regain their freedom through centuries of domination by Sparta, it struck me that their story was just crying out to be told.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies, but I would say on average about a year.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I like to set aside days for writing and on those days I aim to produce a minimum of 1000 words of reasonable quality text that fits within the rough plan I have for the book (I always work to a plan, though it may change in the writing).  I usually manage more than that, though I am not one of those people who can produce thousands of words in a day.  As for how many writing days I get in a week, that depends upon what else I have to do at the same time.  Not as many as I would like, at the moment!  As well as fiction, I write poetry and academic non-fiction, and teach part time at Leeds University, so I have to divide up my time. 

Where do you get your ideas for your books?
There is no single source – sometimes they just pop into my head, but in the case of Zeus of Ithome, the idea came to me after reading a history book – ironically, a book about the Spartans (very much the bad guys in this book). 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first (unpublished) novel in about 1986, when I was 26.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to play music – guitar and a bit of piano.  I have been in bands in the past, though these days I mostly play solo acoustic guitar (and some electric) at open mic nights and the like.  I have fourteen guitars!  I also like hill walking, when I get the chance, and, of course, general relaxing with my family.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The historical events that take place at the end of Zeus of Ithome came as a surprise to me when I first read about them – but perhaps I shouldn’t reveal them, for the sake of readers who would rather not know in advance. 

How many books have you written?
I have had two books published so far, and have also written two other novels, as yet unpublished, though I may revisit them at some point. 

Which is your favourite and why?
I think Zeus of Ithome is my favourite, because it was a joy to write, from start to finish: it seemed almost to write itself, and the end result lived up to what I wanted to achieve.  The others were more of a struggle – though it was very satisfying when my first published book, Knowing What is Good for You (an academic book about the philosophy of well-being), came out. 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Honestly, I wanted to be a writer – or possibly a musician.  Looking back, perhaps I shouldn’t have let myself get side-tracked by the conventional career path everyone expected me to take.  But better late than never!

What are you working on now?
It’s a novel about an ageing (fictional) Latin American dictator.  It follows the progress of an attempted coup by one of his subordinates, interspersed with reminiscences from his estranged wife about how he came to power and gradually turned from an idealist into a despot.  


Tim ‘T.E.’ Taylor was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960 and now lives in Meltham, near Huddersfield, with his wife Rosa and daughter Helen.

He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford, and some years later did a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He spent a number of years in the civil service, where he did a wide range of jobs, before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing. He now divides his time between creative writing, academic research (he has published a book, Knowing What is Good for You, on the philosophy of well-being), and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry, which he often performs on local radio and at open mic nights (where he also plays the guitar).  He is chairperson of Holmfirth Writers’ Group and a member of Colne Valley Writers’ Group.  He also likes walking up hills.

Twitter address is @timetaylor1

Published books:
Zeus of Ithome: Crooked Cat 2013
Knowing What is Good for You: A theory of Prudential Value and Well-being: Palgrave Macmillan 2012

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