BARBARA J. TAYLOR: SING IN THE MORNING, CRY AT NIGHT TOOK ME 3-4 YEARS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Barbara J. Taylor is living the dream of a successful debuting author. Her first novel Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night was published in July 2014 and very fast became a hit. The book averaged 4.5 Amazon stars from 120 plus reviews. How tough was the road for Barbara J. Taylor before she released her story? You may find out in our next Land of Books interview.
– Did you expect Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night to have such a nice feedback from readers and critics?
– Honestly, the whole experience has been amazing, and I’m truly grateful for how well Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night has been received. Going into this, I had no expectations. In my other life, I’m a high school English teacher, so the world of publishing is new to me.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I had always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I actually got serious about it. Back in 2006, I enrolled in Wilkes University’s Low Residency Creative Writing Graduate Program to learn how to write a novel. Students attend two one-week residencies per year, and the rest of the work is completed online. As part of our second residency, we had to pitch story ideas to potential mentors. While I didn’t have a complete vision for my novel, I knew I wanted to use a variation of a family tragedy as the inciting incident.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Time, or the lack of it, was probably my biggest challenge. It’s so easy to find a million other things that need to be done instead of writing, but the truth is, you have to make writing a priority and honor that. I teach fulltime, so in order to make my deadlines, I was often writing until 1 or 2 in the morning, then getting up at 5 AM to get ready for school.
– Tell us something more about your main character Violet? Is she 100% fiction or it’s close to someone from your real life?
– Violet is very loosely based on my great-aunt Janet, and her sister Daisy is based on my great-aunt Pearl. On July 4, 1918, the day of Pearl’s baptism, she and her friends were playing with sparklers when Pearl’s dress caught fire. According to the story, Pearl survived for three days and sang hymns. When she passed away, people from all over town came to view the body of the little girl who sang. As tragic as that story is for Pearl, I also felt for Janet who was also in the yard that day. She didn’t have the happiest life, and I wondered how much of that stemmed from what she witnessed. That wondering led to the creation of Violet.
– How much time you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I started writing the novel in January of 2007, and it was published in July of 2014. I’d say, with all of the revisions, it took a good three or four years to write the novel.
– Was it tough to find a publisher for your book?
– The first time my agent sent the book out, it was rejected by at least twenty publishers. After that, I put the book in a drawer and started writing the next one. About a year into that process, Kaylie Jones, my mentor from Wilkes, had an idea for restructuring Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night. I did another rewrite, and that’s when the book sold. I’m very fortunate because just at the time I was ready to send the book out again, Kaylie started an imprint with Akashic Books. Mine was the second book selected for publication. Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein was Kaylie Jones Books flagship publication.
– Who are you?
– I’m Scranton born and raised. I’m someone who loves her city and its people. I’ve been teaching high school in English in the Pocono Mountain School District for twenty-eight years, and I’m happy to say my students still make me laugh. I have a good life.
– What are your writing habits?
– Lately I’ve been touring with the book, so my writing schedule is a bit erratic. Normally, I write for a few hours each night and on weekends.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– I’m floored by my book sales and so grateful.
– You are working on a sequel of Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night. What will be the development of the story and when the book will be released?
– I’m happy to say I recently signed the contract for the second book. It’s a sequel to Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, but it starts twenty years later. It’s slated to be released in June, 2016.
– What are you doing to promote by the best possible way your book?
– By way of promotion, I actively participate in social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. More importantly, I’m out touring with the book and meeting the readers. I go wherever I’m invited—bookstores, book festivals, libraries, historical societies, classrooms, and book clubs. It’s been a wonderfully busy year.
– Part of your book sales went to charity. Would you tell us more about Osteogensis Imperfecta Foundation and why you decided to donate to them?
– My nephew was born with a brittle bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. He’s 30 years old now, and he’s broken bones well over 100 times. OI takes a physical, emotional and financial toll on those afflicted with the condition and their families. The Osteogenesis Foundation does an amazing job supporting families and research. If your readers would like to learn more about OI, they can go to http://www.oif.org/site/PageServer.
– You are teaching English. Do you think that the current young generation reads less than the previous ones?
– Young or old, it seems to me that people are reading less and less, and I’m sure the internet is contributing to that to some degree. It’s much easier to click on a three-paragraph article than it is to read a novel. In order to encourage the reading of books in my classroom, I use many of the techniques discussed in Kelly Gallagher’s, Readicide. Every English teacher should read this book.
Take a look at her book
Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night