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Friday, July 1, 2022

Author interview Lawrence G Taylor / Book review 'Strangers in another country'

 AUTHOR INTERVIEW

I’m delighted to introduce Lawrence (Larry) G Taylor to Tweetables and I asked him to tell us a little bit about himself.

‘I was born in Guyana, went to England and worked and studied in London before I took up residence in Sweden in the autumn of 1969.

In the 70s, I tried my hand at writing, mostly short stories, a four-act closet drama, a novella and an unfinished novel. I spent two years nurturing the ambition to become an author of some repute. But the going was tough, creating a sense of insecurity for the future.

Eventually, I shelved the idea and got a job as a hospital porter. Later, I did a BA (Eng. & Edu.). After a summer job in a psychiatric hospital, I decided to take a 4-term course for mental-health workers. Following that I completed the first of two stages of psychotherapy education and several short courses in cognitive therapy. After retiring, I worked in mental health counselling for several years.’

Wow, what a fascinating background Larry brings to his writing! He admits to writing in the genres of ‘Historical, Contemporary and Bittersweet Romance, but I’ve also dabbled in Closet Drama and Fantasy-satirical’, so quite a diverse range! He was first published in 2016.

The book we are discussing is ‘Strangers in another Country’ and it’s a collection of two long and two short stories, some of which were first published as singles. I asked Larry what inspired him to write these pieces?

My interest in how my characters behave on different levels, especially how they struggle to find love and manage love relationships. Their happiness and joy, their frustration, disappointment, bitterness, sadness, or sorrow. Loneliness or people without a love life also interest me.’ 

And what does he enjoy the most and least about writing? 

‘The satisfaction comes at the completion. I consider writing to be difficult and emotionally demanding. My perfection is mostly to blame. I’m not easily satisfied. And like W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, ‘I don't write as I want, I write as I can’

I strive for good storytelling, style, tone – all should be smooth. Getting it all right is hard. Professional editing is expensive. A poet once remarked that his poem is never finished, for there is always room for improvement. I regard most of my writing as unfinished, no matter how many rewrites were made. But there has been some measure of satisfaction.’

Gosh, this sounds hard! As Larry’s the first author to say he finds writing painful, and is his own worst critic, I wondered how he reacts to reviews left for him?

‘The good ones are easily digestible. But the bad ones used to get to me, especially after my debut book appeared. But not anymore. I get inspired, more energized by constructive critique.’

So if Larry could go back in time and speak to his younger self, what advice would he give himself?

‘To read, read, read, and write, write, write. To listen to the advice following the rejections my stories received during the first two years of writing. And to have more patience.

At least, I was wise to start with short stories and leave the novel as my writing experience developed. I did keep a diary to jot down memories, ideas, sceneries, and the like.’

And how about Larry’s favourite book?

‘Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. A fastmoving and gripping story. A story of deeper morality. He is worse off than earlier, despite the problems he faced. The burden of guilt and remorse on Raskolnikov’s soul, after murdering a pawnbroker-landlady. Alienation, free will, and poverty are some of the themes that caught my interest. Raskolnikov is full of pride which separates himself from society.’

 Wow, that’s one heck of a book, I’ve not read it in years!  I finished by asking if there was anything he would like to say to you, his potential readers?

‘In general, my stories depict characters in a realistic setting, with an attempt to understand behaviour, response to problems, whether managed or not. The themes: Romance. Love. Unrequited love. Fear. Need. Loneliness. Frustration. Disappointment. Sorrow. Racial discrimination, racism, inequality, and multicultural environment.

My stories in eBook format are available in online bookstores in various European countries, in the States, and Japan. Amazon, Apple, B&N, Scribd, Kobo, Tolino, Vivlio, Books2Read, Bokus.com.’

I asked to give a tweetable-sized extract of his favourite part of the book and he says (tweet here):

On this Friday evening of summer, I find myself strolling streets of Stockholm. No plans on how to pass the night, dreading the thought of going home alone.’

 

BOOK REVIEW

This is an unusual book choice for me and I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Why? Because I tripped over Larry’s syntax initially, which delayed my engagement with the story. But it didn’t take long to get into the book’s rhythm and I started to appreciate what Larry was trying to achieve. Here’s an example from the first page:

‘As the cold seeped into her bones, the young woman sensed the ineffectiveness of her words. With vexation and moral force, Betty ventured after the black puppy. Due to traffic congestion and the animal’s erratic movements, she managed to rescue the puppy.’

This is the start of the first short story, Betty and the Black Puppy, and there is a further short story and two novellas, all of which stand alone. They are set in the 1960s and you can tell that it’s semi-autobiographical as there is a rich, honest realism which I found slightly uncomfortable at times (which meant Larry was doing his job well!).

The protagonist in each story is a West Indian who has relocated to Europe and is experiencing challenges. The characters are complex and I can’t say that I found them loveable, more realistic, but they were memorable and I wanted to know what happened next.

Larry creates such painfully real observations at times, I think brought about by his psychotherapy background. The stories aren’t so much plot-heavy, more character studies, and the book has heart whilst asking tough questions. There are occasional typos, but some are intentional such as the ‘West Indian Creole English’ dialogue which often made me smile, ‘But remember dis, me friend. Yo misses left de house wit a bag in she hand.’

Larry has a unique voice and I’m glad I read these stories because I feel richer for having done so. If you like fresh, realistic stories that don’t shy away from tough subjects then this book is definitely for you. Find out more by visiting the authors links below:

Website: https://lgt41blog.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lgt41

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/larrytaylor41

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lgt41

Author Page: http://amzn.to/29T0KU3

Or you can buy directly from amazon here

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2 comments:

  1. Interesting interview, love the dialogue :)

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Larry's Creole English is such fun!

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