This post is going to be a bit of a mess because 1) I’m not really sure what y’all want/need to know and 2) this is my first time doing #PitchWars (and I’m highkey excited about it). Starting with the basics, my name is Taylor, I’m 22 and I live in New Jersey not far from NYC. I’ll be submitting Talk to Me, my YA contemporary romance that features queer, mental illness and disability rep. It tells the story of a socially anxious boy who meets a queer, aphasiac girl who steals his heart, but helps him find his voice. Now let me tell you a bit more about my book and then me! Since I love top ten lists (I have books of them), let’s try that format!
10 Facts About My Story!
1. Talk to Me is a YA contemporary romance about three teens who are all experiencing some kind of identity crisis and it’s only when their lives intersect their senior year of high school that they start to figure out. It’s an atmospheric, neurodivergent love story about art, secrets, pranks and kissing. 🙂
2. My three narrators are Grace, Zach and Mason. Grace is a sassy artist who has expressive aphasia and selective mutism, so she doesn’t speak or write. Zach is a math nerd and baseball player with social anxiety who can’t speak up for himself. Mason is Zach’s best friend; impulsive and brooding, him and Grace share a secret past.
3. My chapters are labeled one-point perspective, two-point perspective and three-point perspective based on how many of my characters narrate in each one. The names come from the systems of ocular perspective and I chose to do this because Grace is an artist!
4. Zach’s social anxiety is #ownvoices. It was interesting to write a character with social anxiety like mine and focus on the subtleties of it and how it affects the decisions he makes and relationships with other people.
5. The story takes place in Western New Jersey and is loosely based off a small town that I visit often because of its independent book store.
6. Grace’s experiences as a painter were very much informed by my own experiences as an artist.
7. Family is a huge part of the book. Grace, Zach and Mason’s families aren’t perfect, but it was interesting to write imperfect parents who really do love their children even if they make stupid or seemingly unfair choices. I wish parents were more present in YA!
8. The easiest part of writing this book was writing Grace’s voice, because her voice is most similar to me as a person, but still different. There are pieces of me in Zach and Mason, too.
9. The hardest part of writing this book was getting the plot down and figuring out the arc of each character. It was a fun challenge, though!
10. This manuscript is the one that made me want to really be a writer. It’s brought me to so many experiences from #CPMatch to #PitMad and now to #PitchWars. I’ll always be so grateful to this story and these characters for helping me evolve as an artist!
10 Facts About Me!
1. I recently graduated Drew University with a B.A. in English and Art History. I also minored in French, received specialized honors in English and graduated with Civic Honors. In September, I’ll be starting an individualized studies graduate program at NYU to study Intersectional Feminism in Contemporary Art and Literature.
2. I’m neurodivergent, which makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I get through it with the help of very patient and understanding friends and fellow writers. I try to bring my experiences of social anxiety, generalized anxiety and depression into my stories because they’re the stories I needed when I was a teen and didn’t always have.
3. I’m aro-spec and ace-spec and try to include LGBTQUPIA+ characters in all of my stories.
4. I love to knit and crochet! I always have waaaaay too many projects I’m working on.
5. I love to paint. Basically, I just love to be creative in as many ways as possible.
6. I’m a huge Broadway nerd. I love seeing musicals and plays in the city. Some of my favorites are Dear Evan Hansen, Spring Awakening, Rent and If/Then!
7. I’m always listening to music when I’m writing. I need background noise.
8. I’m a night owl, so you’ll usually find me writing at 2 am.
9. If I’m not writing, reading, sleeping, crocheting, knitting or painting, I’m probably riding my bike or down the shore.
10. I have ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) so don’t be offended if I’m kind of pushy about where we go if we ever grab lunch. 😉
That’s all you need to know! If you want to know more or see what I’m up to, you can find me on Twitter @tayberryjelly.