Today, I’m excited to host my very first teen author. I can’t wait to hear her story. Join me as Taylor answers some questions,
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you come to write Christian YA?
I’m a seventeen-year-old homeschooler with a passion for clean, inspiring fiction. As I grew older and began do delve into the world of contemporary YA fiction, I became increasingly discouraged. Nearly every book, though packed with sparkling characters and an intriguing plot, were also filled with inappropriate content that left me squirming and setting the book aside mid-sentence.
One of my favorite quotes, by beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary, says that, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” So that’s what I did—and I discovered that writing was just as fun as reading. Or maybe even more so!
I agree, Taylor. If I had my choice, I’d write instead of reading as well.
In my debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, my main character Olive Galloway is dumped at her grandmother’s house in Hawaii after a family tragedy. Desperate to return home and stop her dad before he does something drastic, Olive launches into a money-making frenzy. She has to earn a ticket home before the end of the summer. But, when one of the local girls reveals a painful secret, Olive is faced with a dilemma. Helping her new friend, Olive must give up her goals, her plans, her money—everything.
I honestly can’t explain what inspired the theme—it arose organically as I wrote—but the seed of my story idea came from the title: Porch Swing Girl. It popped into my head one morning and I instantly knew that there must be an intriguing premise behind the vague, slightly whimsical title.
Ah, sounds like you’re mostly a pantster instead of a plotter. Interesting.
Where do you see your writing career headed in the future?
I see myself continuing to write books—I already have two more contracted with my publisher—and inspire young readers with my messages of hope. I’d like to keep writing YA, though I might branch out into writing historical YA as well as contemporary. Ideally, I’ll also travel a bit as a speaker. I’d love to visit schools and youth groups and encourage other young people to reach for their dreams.
As a child, what kinds of books did you read? Did any influence your writing style?
I read everything and anything! I read the classics (Little Women and A Little Princess were favorites) and the newest releases. I especially enjoyed (surprise!) contemporary fiction. I’ve never been a fan of fantasy or sci-fi, so I knew from an early age that I would always read/write more “realistic” fiction. Wait, is that an oxymoron? ?
I hear you. In my author’s mind, it’s not an oxymoron.
What aspect of writing do you enjoy the most?
My favorite aspect of writing is the ability to jump into another character’s skin, visit unusual places, and experience a thousand different lives—all without leaving my desk at home. When I was young, I was always playing dress-up and “pretend.” Now that I’m older, I still do that—only I’m telling my stories in a different way and sharing them with the world. There’s a quote somewhere that says something along the lines of “writing is acting for introverts” and that’s exactly why I love it so much.
What is the most challenging part of penning a novel?
I tend to struggle the most with plotting—I joke (but really it’s the truth) that I have a fairy-tale life, so it’s hard for me to dream up struggles and trials for my characters to deal with. Thankfully I have an amazing team of editors on my side. They always let me know when I’m going too soft on my characters and, with their help, I’ve improved my story structure immensely.
I can related to that. My editor/friend, Fay Lamb, has frequently prompted me to get my character into more trouble.
What are three words that describe you?
Whimsical—I’m a little quirky and I could happily spend the day daydreaming or wandering through a deserted forest
Sensitive—I wear my heart on my sleeve, which tends to come in handy as a writer ?
Sentimental—Life is God’s gift to us, and I believe it is the most precious thing we could ever ask for or receive. I’m determined to treasure it, and the memories made in one’s lifetime.
Share with my readers your most embarrassing moment.
Once when I was in grade school, my mom put on a “Pioneer Days” sleepaway camp for all of the girl scout troops in the county. At the campfire, one night, my dad showed up as a surprise. He was dressed in grimy, raggedy Western-style prospector garb, complete with a ratty fake beard and beat-up cowboy hat. With a ridiculous, old-fashioned accent, he began to tell the girls old mining stories and squeak out off-key ditties on a harmonica. Everyone else (who had no idea it was my dad) had a blast, but I could hardly believe it and spent the entire time cringing in embarrassment. We all laugh about it now, though ?
That is funny. Thanks for sharing.
What if friendship cost you everything?
Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.
With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.
But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.
Homeschooled since kindergarten, Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of Porch Swing Girl, which will be released by Mountain Brook Ink on May 1st. When she’s not reading or writing, Taylor can be found playing her violin or taking walks in the beautiful Oregon countryside. She loves to connect with readers via her author website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (her favorite!), Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Where to find Taylor’s book: