Check out this author spotlight for Taylor Harding-Jenkins!
You can find all her links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out her books!
1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!
Hey Catrin, and thank you so much for your invitation in your author’s spotlight!
So my name is Taylor Harding Jenkins, it’s obviously a pen name as I am an anonymous writer, I cannot disclose my true identity over safety concerns (I’ve been bullied online in the past, and the trauma is still present), I am a currently British but formerly French writer, living in London. I am the author of Free Expensive Lies, the story of a master manipulator (I’m trying to democratise manipulators and, explain that manipulators like me aren’t necessarily evil) and, what else… well I do a couple of things in life besides being a writer. I am also manager of a coffee shop in Central London, and I am also a pilot in training on my free time, flying for now on Cessna 152 (for those who know), and I’ll be passing my licence to become a private pilot certainly in December of this year.
Oh and I am a transgender woman, I’ve been transitioning for the past four years. It’s the reason why I’ve been bullied and I’m hiding.
2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 (or more!) of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!
Winter, spring, summer or autumn? Autumn. I love when trees lose their leaves, when everything turns yellow and the usual rain during that period. Moreover it’s a period where you usually stay in bed longer, have a hot chocolate while watching TV and do nothing at home. I live this period.
Tea or coffee? So it’s usually a double espresso when I open the coffee machine at work, a double espresso when I open my tablet or my MacBook and start writing, and another round on an hourly basis. As a British woman (#cliches), I shouldn’t say this, I know… but yea is usually when I’m sick.
Library or museums? Museums, definitely. I love history, it’s always an endless source of inspiration.
Hunter or gatherer? I’ve always been a hunter in my life. I mean, I’m not hiding myself as being a manipulator, so, a manipulator isn’t really a gatherer. But now I’m trying to explain that, there are good manipulators and I’m one of them.
Mountains or beaches? Mountains. Definitely. I grew up near mountains, and I love hiking! And beaches are usually full of tourists. Whilst in mountains you breathe clean air.
Pen and paper or computer/phone? I love both. But, I must admit that writing on a computer or a tablet is ways more convenient, as you can edit right away. A pen doesn’t always offer that option.
Book or ebook? I never really liked ebooks. So, books, for sure.
Hero or anti-hero? Antihero!!!!! F*** the system!
3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?
Well, I’m actually very complicated in books. As in, very, very complicated.
So, what I mostly read is non-fiction. Surprisingly, I’m more like the type of writer who hates reading, so if I read something, I must learn something out of it. It’s more because I have a scientific mind, probably. Recently, I’ve been reading On Liberty of John Stuart Mill, as well as The Art of War by Sun Tzu, obviously I loved the Prince by Machiavelli, all these kind of books.
Regarding fiction, it’s quite different. The thing is, I need to read a book pretty much the way I write mine. So the book must be lengthy, I don’t really like short 60,000 words books, (even though I published one – which is a mix between fiction and non-fiction), because I consider that, it’s hard to get immersed when the book is already finished. I need details, I need description, I need dialogues, I need all this kind of things, otherwise I’m not into the story. I need at least 100,000 words to get started. Second, I will always privilege indie-writers compared to authors with agents. The reason being is that, I find having the word “bestselling writer” on the cover is of a utter arrogance and, every time I read a mainstream book, I ended up asking for a refund. E.g., Harry Potter.
Okay, I write that on my covers… but I’m just being sarcastic.
4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!
I’m currently writing the Act II (I mean editing now) of my series Free Expensive Lies, due for a release in fall 2024. This one is gonna be much more personal, unlike the first one, because I’m passing through personal trauma I faced in the past as well as bereavement, so it’s gonna be the best and the longest of the series, but it will come under two versions, a Highlights (a short version, which is likely to be a bundle for this book) and the Integral version, as the book will be ove 300,000 words. So for the courageous one… I will announce the chapter setlist for this one soon, probably by the end of the year or this autumn.
I am also in a top-secret project with a friend, basically we’re gonna be into the story of a vampire confronting a witch, all on a political background and stuff, so it’s gonna be interesting. As we’re writing this one, I have no release date, but perhaps by the end of the year. This one will be ways shorter. But there will probably be more details on my website soon, at the event section.
5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!
Well, basically I wrote two books already, the first one was released on February 2021, Free Expensive Lies Act I. There are two versions of this book, the Integral version, but given the countless complaints I received from readers regarding the length (290,000 words), I published a short version, called Highlights in May 2022, which is 180,000 words. It’s the first act of the series, so the very beginning, when I actually talk about Charlotte saving her girlfriend Claire from a human-trafficking scheme, with a quite hectic ending. I actually talk about many topics in there, such as psychology, and the psychology of a manipulator, what tools a manipulator may use to actually save someone from prostitution and, more generally someone’s life, as well as personal experiences, such as, when I’ve been raped, and, so on. It’s been a long work, as it took me 10 years to finish this book and put the foundation of the series that will come out of this.
In May, I published a fiction-non-fiction, based on my life, pretty much an enhanced biography, called He Fell from Venus. It’s about my transition, mixed up with entire creating process that led to Charlotte. I published this more in a way that, targeting those who were like me, questioning about their genders, and sharing their experience.
6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!
I write from everything. Literally everything. When I feel like something needs to be written, it is written right away. It’s usually people that inspire me, for example I have been quite strongly inspired by an ex manager, who ends up in my Free Expensive Lies Act II as someone very important for Charlotte because, she will be part of those saving her life in the end, and in my life, well she didn’t save me, but… perhaps the fact that, well, she was who she was, was enough to inspire me.
Fictional sources of information, well… I love music. I usually work like, “what if my book was made into a movie, this would be the soundtrack”, and, when something inspires me, it actually opens my mind to do more for the book. Evanescence, the band, was a previous help for this Act II, for instance, with their latest album, The Bitter Truth. Amy Lee has the hell of a voice, it’s crazy.
Films, I used to watch a lot of films. But my favourite, so far, remains Fight Club. Tyler Durden… damn, what a man! I used to watch a lot of series as well, one of my favourite of all times being Orphan Black, which was a source of inspiration to create Free Expensive Lies because later on, I will go into something similar. And, video games, (as I am quite a gamer too and I play on Xbox, and I’ve got the Game Pass), I have recently been inspired by Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a genuinely good game based on the story of a psychotic Viking seeking her boyfriend in Asguard. Little Nightmares was also a series that I loved too.
7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!
I don’t really have one. I mean, I like going to my local coffee shop, ordering a coffee, having a sausage roll, and crashing on the sofa for hours and, using my tablet and write. Or, otherwise, when the weather is terrible, I’m mostly sitting on my desk, with my MacBook, and I listen to some old French music. I’m very easily inspired, I’ve got that chance, and when I start, it takes me hours before being willing to leave. But when I write, I’m always switching off my phone, I don’t want anyone to disturb me.
8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?
Follow your dreams. Remember that sentence from Steve Jobs, “if you do not follow your own dreams, then someone will hire you to start working on his own”. That’s how I also see my life, stick to the dream, whatever the cost. So far, remaining stuck to my dream made me a published author, a manager and a pilot, so I’m actually very happy with that. The prime need for me to write is to exist. To soothe my pain and to say what I cannot say in real life.
And don’t look for a literary agent. Quite important advice, if you want to be a real artist. If you want to be a bestselling writer, of course, seek an agent, but a bestselling writer, in my view, isn’t a real author. He’s here to sell, not here to create.
9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!
Well I recently reopened my website, taylorhardingjenkins.co.uk, where you can find literally everything about me. You can even buy my books there. Otherwise, I’m a bit everywhere, on Instagram @taylorhardingjenkins or @charlottekominsky, I’m on Facebook as well, @taylorhjenkins… Goodreads, if you want to follow me.
And my books are literally available everywhere. On my website, on Apple iBooks, Amazon, smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones… everywhere. I’m very easy to find.