Why I Began Writing and Why I Chose YA
As a very young child I always had a vivid and overactive imagination. As an only child who lived with her parents deep in the backwoods, the situation left a lot of room for creativity and thinking. I rarely played with other kids, and the one I played with the most was older than I was. He didn’t really get into role-playing or imaginative stuff that much; he enjoyed sports and that type stuff more. I didn’t mind. I liked sports. It’s just hard to play them by yourself! My parents would take me swimming and fishing at the river behind the house. We had to keep an eye out for water moccasins, but I didn’t mind. I would also look for freshwater clams and the fish would nibble on my toes.
Anyway, living this way sort of made me a natural worldbuilder. The woods around us and across the river became a whole different world. Other worlds were built inside the house or in the yard when I played with toys. Everyday things would come to life. Basically I was already making characters.
When I moved to the suburbs in 8th grade and served time in high school there, those were hard years. People just didn’t understand me, and I was bullied all the time and socially ostracized. After a while Nintendo and homework just couldn’t cut it any more, and it was getting close to time to stop playing with toys. I had to find another way to reach my fantasy worlds. Was there a way?
Then, one day, I went to a younger cousin’s birthday party at a skating ring. While I was skating to my heart’s content, I remembered how I used to write short stories about my fantasy worlds—I could write my way back in. It’s almost the same thing, except I just won’t be role-playing or picking up action figures. Then it hit me: Could I write a book and take it all to the next level? I decided to also make it a challenge and an experiment.
Taking my fantasy worlds and what I learned from language arts and patterns from the other books I had read over the years, I pulled it all together and wrote the first words to Neiko’s Five Land Adventure at the age of 16. Nobody directly taught me how to write books; I taught myself. I hit the Holy Grail. Not only did I find my escape and a way back to my fantasy worlds, they grew by leaps and bounds. Later on my younger cousin started to make stories with me and new adventures and characters came alive and would be used in my stories.
I chose YA because I was a YA, and those were the type of books I liked to read. Even as a middle-grade reader, I was a mature reader for my age. It was hard for me to find books for my age range that weren’t for babies (my 10 year-old self speaking), so I had to aim higher. I liked mysteries, action adventure, fantasy, horror, ghost stuff (paranormal), and science fiction, but it was hard to find, especially at the MG range. As a YA, I tried adult books. The action, once we got there, was awesome, and the violence didn’t bother me, but I did hate all the hanky-panky and the big words that I probably saw on the SAT. I had to pull out the dictionary to figure out what was being said. I just shrugged of all the cussing—it’s just a grown-up thing (my thinking back then). A little romance is okay; I’m not totally against it, but I like it as a sideplot or as a motivation for something. For a lot of books, why did it take so long to get to the action?
So, I sat down and began to write an older MG/YA books that didn’t exist at the time that I would like to read and the way I liked them. I never anticipated on sharing with anyone. I never dreamed of publishing. I figured that the publishing people would think a book written by a self-taught teen like me were stupid and laugh at me. I was just writing for fun anyway, and it was my secret. However, later on there was a leak and people all around started telling me to get it published, even complete strangers. That’s another story.
A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.