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Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Taylor’

Further Ruminations on “Hot Young Author Chick Syndrome”

Remember the time when it was almost impossible to get a novel published if you were under 40? Remember when author photos were nixed if you looked too young for a serious endeavor? Yeah, I don’t either, but I have it on pretty good authority that’s what publishing was like in the thirty years after World War II. And then the photogenic boom set in and now we get articles like the cover story of this week’s Boston Phoenix about why authors must look goooooooood to get published. All the usual suspects – Pessl, Kunkel, Krauss & Foer, Freudenberger, Vachon – are namechecked and analyzed for why their looks helped get them a big publishing contract (a topic Ron covered in similar detail for Writer’s Digest last year.)

“It’s easier in life to be attractive. That’s reductive but true,” says HarperCollins editor Gail Winston to Sharon Steel. “On the other hand, a brilliant book by an author who is not young and not attractive isn’t going to fail. It’s just, I think that those other books – for those reasons, those authors maybe get a little bit of an advantage.” But Gawker’s Emily Gould wishes the story was a little different. “The combination of fair-to-middling – or even strong but underdeveloped – talent with attractiveness and youth seems to be eternal catnip to publishers, if not reading audiences, and I think that’s a shame. What I am deeply, passionately opposed to is all the ridiculous praise that’s heaped on just-okay books because of the looks and pedigree and other accomplishments of their authors.”

Another feeling the adulation and backlash is Katherine Taylor (first talked about here last fall when I speculated she was a good bet for a Starbucks pick, which didn’t happen.) “I haven’t had a very long career as a writer, but while I was publishing stories, and when I got this book contract [for RULES FOR SAYING GOODBYE, published last spring by FSG] nobody knew what I looked like or who I was at all. My appearance had nothing to do with anything,” Taylor says. “But I’m not terribly concerned…The book is there, the book is always going to be there…I think the book stands on its own. All the noise surrounding it is just noise. I feel like whatever you have to do to get your book in the cultural conversation is all fair,” Taylor continues. “Because the bottom line is, you’ve put so much of yourself and so many years of your life into what you’re doing. The greatest tragedy would be if nobody noticed.”

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Katherine Taylor Falls Into Chick Lit Bait Trap

In reading debut novelist Katherine Taylor ‘s interview with the New York Observer’s Spencer Morgan, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time James Frey made headlines, long before any charges of fake writing and fabrication were levied his way. No, I’m talking about the interview where he railed against Dave Eggers‘s A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS in particularly profane terms, and then it turned out that Frey, like so many men of his generation, is a casual f-bomb dropper without any real malice attached to it. So where do you think that first interview, the one that got Frey in so much trouble, ran? The New York Observer, of course!

So what is up with the salmon tabloid charming opinionated (at best) or incendiary (at worst) from young, impressionable writers? In Taylor ‘s case, perhaps it’s the constant dangling of the chick lit carrot what with her novel – published by FSG this May (and an early theorized candidate for the Starbucks slot occupied by Ishmael Beah) – set amidst glamorous New York surroundings and adorned with the chicklit-standard cocktail glass, cigarettes and pink lettering. “But I love it,” she said. “It works, and I love that [the cover] looks like an old film still and that it’s an old-fashioned cocktail glass and that the woman is wearing dark nail polish, not something bright.” Besides, one has to cut Taylor slack if only for her closing comment: “Indecision [by Benjamin Kunkel] was ridiculously simple, I thought. And had it been a girl who’d written it, it would have had the pinkest cover in the world. It would have been the pinkest of all-time pink covers.” Can’t argue with that…

Starbucks Taps Ex-Child Soldier for Book Sales

ishmael-beah.jpgAfter selling nearly 100,000 copies of Mitch Albom‘s For One More Day, Starbucks has announced that the next literary offering at its coffeeshops will be A Long Way Gone, the memoir of 26-year-old Ishmael Beah (left, decked out in Armani for a Playboy feature on hip writers wearing jackets), who was pressed into combat in Sierra Leone’s civil wars as a young child and now acts an adviser to Human Rights Watch as well as speaking about child soldier issues before the United Nations on several occasions. In fact, Starbucks plans to donate $2 from each sale of the book, which will be published by FSG next month, to UNICEF.

Sarah adds: Way back in October, when speculation abounded about Starbucks’ next book choice, we thought the winner might be Katherine Taylor , whose debut novel is slated for a spring publication by FSG. Score us one for two, then – right publisher, wrong author…