Thank you for joining me for the ninth installment of Authoring Arrowheads’s 2020 Author Interview series. For September, I’ll be interviewing a fellow Contemporary Christian YA author, Taylor Bennett. Taylor is the author of the beloved Tradewinds series. Book one, Porch Swing Girl, was published in 2018.
On the last Wednesday of each month in 2020, I will be hosting an author for an interview! These authors will range from indie friends I’ve made online to authors in my local area. Be sure to subscribe to never miss an interview!
Meet Taylor Bennett
Taylor Bennett is the twenty-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare-yet always severe-case of wanderlust.
Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.
A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.
When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest
Interview with Taylor Bennett, author of Porch Swing Girl
Q1: When did you first realize you love writing?
Wow! That’s a loaded question…and a bit of a long story. Here goes:
My love for the written word was a part of me even before I could read or write myself. As a toddler, I used to sit for hours in front of my mom’s old electric typewriter (yes, those used to be a thing…) and “write a story”—AKA write pages and pages of gibberish. When I was in middle school, I attempted my first novel, which didn’t go that well—probably I had literally no clue what I was doing. I bravely submitted it to a few publishers, all of whom “wrote back” via form letters. To say I was disappointed would be a bit of an understatement. Thankfully, that experience prepared me for what was waiting for me when I finally did enter the publishing world in high school. Armed with a new book idea (which you’ll learn more about later) I was ready to learn how to really write a novel.
I would say that I truly fell in love with writing around that time—when I realized that telling a story was more than throwing a few words and characters on the page. I spent several years seriously studying the writing craft, as well as the ins and outs of the publishing world, and that’s when I discovered that my infatuation with writing and publishing was more than a passing phase. Now here I am—seven years after I wrote my first “novel”—with three books published and another one in the works!
Q2: What inspired you to write Porch Swing Girl?
Porch Swing Girl was only the second book I ever finished writing, and it’s technically the first if you consider the fact that my first attempt at a novel was more like a half-baked novella! The idea that I got in high school grew with me as I studied the writing craft, and that idea became Porch Swing Girl.
It’s funny, but I can still remember the exact moment that I came up with the story. I was walking my dog on a chilly, wintry morning when those words that would become my title first popped into my head: Porch Swing Girl. I didn’t know who the girl was or why she was sitting on the porch, but I knew she had a story—one that I needed to tell.
My love of Hawaii (and longing to return to the island of Maui!) made it easy to choose a setting. After that, I started asking that girl on the swing questions. Who was she? Why was she on the swing? What had happened to her before she ended up there? Only a few days later, I started writing.
Little did I know that this was the story that would help me fulfill some of my wildest dreams.
Q3: What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
Ooh! I’m so excited about both (yes, there are two!) of my projects. One is a Big Secret for now, but I’m also working on the last book in my Tradewinds series. It’s about a long-awaited wedding, and I’ve been having a lot of fun over on Instagram, asking my followers to help plan the ceremony. So far, they’ve voted on engagement rings, wedding dresses, and even the cake! Needless to say, my computer is totally convinced that I’m getting married, and I keep getting wedding-planning ads 😉
Q4: Which authors (inside or outside your genre) have inspired your writing?
I’ve always been so inspired by both Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery! Their ability to write such timeless, heartfelt, and heartwarming stories is admirable, and I dream of one day telling stories that touch people in the same way. I love that, no matter how crazy life feels, it just seems better the second I read about the escapades of Anne Shirley or Jo March.
Q5: What are your go-to writing snacks?
Um, does tea count? I don’t think I’ve ever actually snacked while I write…but I always enjoy a significant amount of post-writing fuel at dinnertime, which usually includes my favorite food in the world: bread!
Q6: What is your favorite part about traditional publishing? What is your least favorite part?
I love being traditionally published because, between my editors, proofreaders, publicists, and fellow authors, I feels like I’m part of one big, supportive, encouraging family! The relationships I have built with my editors and fellow authors are more valuable to me than gold, and I can’t imagine life without them. It’s so much fun being part of such a close-knit community of fellow word nerds. If I had to pick my least favorite part about being traditionally published, it would be that it takes so long! To get a book from first draft to final draft can take many, many months—if not years!—and…well…I’m not the most patient person around 😉
Q7: What advice would you like to share with first-time writers?
Read what you write, then write it again.
Reading and writing are inextricably intertwined, and the more you read, the better you’ll write. Of course, that isn’t groundbreaking news—talk to most any author you meet and they’ll offer some version of that advice. However, oftentimes we overlook the reading of our own writing.
There’s such a focus on getting words down on the page; we hustle to finish one draft and move on to the next. But our true growth as an author only happens when we slow down and take a moment to reread—and rewrite—our own words. We need to dive into our own stories, to know our characters backwards and forwards. We need to experiment with different writing styles, character types, and points of view. In order to grow as writers, we need to be fully immersed in the worlds that we create.
I’ve learned to edit as I write—every time I begin a new writing session, I go back and edit my previous day’s work. It’s often that, when I look at my own words with a fresh eye, I make some of the most important tweaks and changes to my writing.
Thanks again, Allyson, for having me on the blog! I really enjoyed it 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Taylor!
Connect with Author Taylor Bennett at:
Check out her website:
Check out her debut novel,
Porch Swing Girl!
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.
View the Book on Amazon!
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Have you read Porch Swing Girl? I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of clean YA fiction with Christian themes!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.