Joshua D. Taylor is an author who started when he realized he was too old to play make-believe. He lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and a one-eared cat. He enjoys gardening, comic books, ska-punk music, Disney World, and traveling with his wife. Raised during weirdness that was the late 20th century Josh’s eclectic interests produce eclectic works. He loves to mix-n-match things from different genres and story elements to achieve a madcap hodgepodge of the truly unexpected.
Interview with Joshua D. Taylor
TTJ: What inspired you to start writing?
Joshua: I’ve always had stories and ideas in my head when I was little we used to play make-believe, but as I grew the ideas never went away. Writing is a way of getting those ideas out of my head and sharing them with others.
TTJ: How long have you been writing?
Joshua: I remember trying to make a story as a little kid. I cut pictures out of a computer game magazine and glued them to a piece of paper and wrote a story about them. I then spent three decades trying to write, getting frustrated, giving up, then trying again. I started writing consistently about three years ago with a character blog that I think only two friends ever read. After proving to myself that I could stick with I started sending submissions into contests and anthologies and haven’t looked back.
TTJ: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Joshua: I think so, I always wanted to share the stories I came up with. I’ve settled on writing as the best way for me to do that. As a kid I wanted to make comic books, but I think I settled on writing because I thought writing would be easier than learning to draw. lol. If I’d only known. lol.
TTJ: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Joshua: When I began writing consistently, several days a week for about a year.
TTJ: What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Joshua: Plotting can be difficult. Sometimes ideas just come together naturally and seem to have a life of their own and I just have to write down what happens. Oftentimes I come up with part of a story idea and have to do the hard work and figure out what should happen next and what the characters are going to do and if it fits in with all the other things that have to happen.
TTJ: What does success mean to you?
Joshua: Just being a published author is about the greatest success I could ever hope for. Now that I have a solo publication coming out I really feel like I’ve done it all. So continuing to be successful from here means trying to write new things and constantly challenging myself.
TTJ: How do you handle literary criticism?
Joshua: I’m self-conscious about my work but I try to suck it up because any advice that I get helps make my work stronger and me a better writer.
TTJ: Where do you get your inspiration?
Joshua: I’ve always read and watched all sorts of different things, so I’m one of those people who have tons of useless information floating around in their heads. Sometimes two different things stick together. For example the other day I started thinking about the sandman, then I wondered if the sand he sprinkles in people’s eyes to give them dreams is the same sand the grim reaper has in his hourglass, since sleep is sometimes referred to as the little death. Then I wondered if you could use the sandman’s sand to forge a glass knife and kill nightmares with it. That’s how things get started.
TTJ: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
Joshua: I’ve been really distracted lately and I’ve been working on several things at once. There’s a longer piece that I’m writing because I wanted to try to write something at least novella length and I wanted to write something just for myself with no restriction. The working title is ‘Everything I know about life I learned from the back of burrito wrapper’. The original idea was to write a magical realism story but it shifted to the must Bizarro style thing I’ve ever written. People’s hands fall off and turn into crabs, Elvis gets resurrected to put on more concerts, one character is an anthropomorphic tiger named Balm, a shade of pink that drives people insane, cars powered by algae. and everyone wears coveralls all the time. I’ve come to a place in the story where I’m stuck, so I’m letting it rest while I work on other smaller stories for anthologies. I hope to get back to it soon and maybe submit it to Eraserhead Press next year. We’ll see.
TTJ: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Joshua: Authors like Grant Morrison(comic books) and China Meiville showed me that you can write really bat-shit stuff, and if it's good enough and you really put your heart into it, people will like it. They taught me not to be afraid to challenge my audience and show them something new.
TTJ: How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Joshua: Titles are tough for me, They are usually plays well-known sayings or expressions. For example I recently submitted a story called ‘All I want for Christmas is a life-sentence with the possibility of parole’ or ‘Goblins on the Range’ or Through the Magic Mirror and what the Seven Dwarfs found there”. When in doubt I also just go with alliteration. Unless I’m writing a drabble, then I try to use the title to convey information about the story, since drabbles are so short (exactly 100 words).
TTJ: How do you do research for your books?
Joshua: I do a lot of googling and wikipedia. I have a fairly short attention span so I’m not good at deep dives. If I can’t learn it in a few minutes from reading an article, then I’m probably not going to bother with it.
TTJ: Do you have a favourite character that you have written?
Joshua: 'As Above, So Beneath' focuses mostly on the protagonist, Nemo Carter, but he has a conversation with a friend Madeline who is a really interesting character. She’s a married lesbian who has multiple children that happen to be clones. She’s one of the few people who have immigrated to the planet Tindalos that the story takes place on. She’s also a high level government employee and fiercely protective of the Nemo. We only get to know her through two conversations but she seems like someone who has a lot of depth to them. I wonder why she left her home planet and came to Tindalos and how she became the Global Weather Foundation’s representative to the Tindalos Terraforming Council.
TTJ: Tell us about your first published book? What was the journey like?
Joshua: As Above, so Beneath is my first solo publication. It’s been an odd journey because it was originally written as a submission to a sea themed cosmic horror anthology. It got rejected but the publisher messaged me and said they would like to release it as a solo publication. So I went from disappointment to elation pretty quick.
TTJ: What was the inspiration for the story?
Joshua: Well, I started with the mystery of why whales beach themselves and the separate idea I heard about who comets, which are mostly frozen water and gases, could be used to give barren planets water and an atmosphere. The plot from the story came from trying to connect those two ideas.
TTJ: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Joshua: Well, it's a cosmic horror story so I leaned hard into the theme of humans being a small insignificant part of the universe. Even though they can travel between planets and terraform worlds, there are still unseen forces that make us look like gnats in comparison.
TTJ: What is the significance of the title?
Joshua: As Above, So Beneath is a play on ‘As Above, so Below’. Parts of the story have to do both with the sea and with outer space. I thought below sounded more like ‘beneath the waves’ while below sounds more like ‘below the ground. The original saying is from various mystic beliefs and means that heavenly matters reflect earthly one.
TTJ: Your story is set in the future on the terraformed planet of Tindolas. Why did you choose that as the setting for your book?
Joshua: Well, one of the themes for the anthology I wrote the story for was the sea and I immediately knew I wanted it to take place on a boat sea. Since it was a cosmic horror story I thought the sense of isolation from alone on a boat suited the genre.
I was hoping a far future sci fi setting would add novelty to the story and a sci-fi setting would easily allow me to incorporate some cosmic elements without too much of a learning curve for the main character. Also I’ve always been a fan of world building and speculative evolution, so I got to indulge that as well.
TTJ: Was the writing process different and what challenges did you face when writing in a new genre?
Joshua: Cosmic horror is tough because it's mostly mood and atmosphere. I felt the need to try to convey a sense of creeping madness, hopeless, and impending doom without having scary monsters commit horrible acts of violence. So basically it requires more nuance than I’m used to. lol
TTJ: What was the highlight of writing this book?
Joshua: I have a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus in organisms and ecology so it was nice to have a main character that’s a marine biologist and build an alien world. I also inserted tons of Lovecraft and Poe references, I named everything I possibly could after things from their works, from planets, animals, geographic features, and boats.
Books by Joshua D. Taylor
Anthologies featuring Joshua D. Taylor
Black Hare Press
Stormy Island Publishing
Iron Faerie Publishing
Blood Song Books
Dastaan World Publishing
Things from the Well Publications