Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recent graduate gets book contract for stories she wrote at Randolph

A collection of short stories written by Sara Taylor ’12 for her senior project at Randolph will be published soon.

Taylor recently signed a contract to publish the collection with Random House Publishers imprints in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. She will spend the next six months working with editors to prepare the book for publication (while also studying for her Ph.D.).

Taylor, an English major with an emphasis in creative writing, started working on the collection the summer before her senior year at Randolph when she decided that she wanted to complete an honors project. “I was told that honors meant 100 pages minimum and no maximum,” she said. “I figured that if I was going to write that much, I might as well write a whole book.”

English professor Bunny Goodjohn, Taylor’s senior advisor, provided guidance and challenged Taylor to perfect the stories’ plots, characters, and language. “Working with her was one of the best experiences of my entire time at Randolph,” Taylor said. Their work brought rewards before long: one of the stories from Taylor’s senior project won the coveted Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize last year.

Goodjohn already knew that Taylor was a talented writer, but seeing her senior project come together taught her something else about her student. “She was also a dogged writer—fully committed to learning two other skills a modern writer needs: self-promotion and marketing,” she said. “Sara knew it wasn’t enough to sit down and write; she had to take control not only of craft but also of her own publishing success.”

Most stories in the volume take place in a fictionalized version of Eastern Shore, a region on a peninsula on Virginia’s eastern coast where she lived when she started writing the stories.

While studying for her master’s degree at the University of East Anglia (UEA) last year, she met a literary agent who started marketing the book. The agent called with frequent updates, and she finally had good news a few weeks ago.

“She called me to say that there was no news, and then she had to leave because she was getting a call. Then she called back and said an offer had been made,” Taylor said. “By the end of the evening I had a publisher.”

The book is currently titled The Shore, but that might change as the book is prepared for publication. It will be about 360 pages and will appear in hardcover and paperback. It is scheduled to hit bookstore shelves in 2015.

“I still can’t believe it’s happened,” Taylor said. “It’s given me a lot more energy to do the next book.”

Her next major project is a novel that she started during her master’s program. She would like to be a professional writer, but she also plans to look for opportunities to teach after completing her Ph.D. at UEA.