Today we’re so excited to introduce you to Jessica Taylor and WANDERING WILD, which is slated to release Spring 2016!
- First and foremost, we love WANDERING WILD’s title! Did you have this title picked out right from the beginning, or was it a process to uncover?
Thank you so much! I’m actually really horrible at coming up with titles and WANDERING WILD has been called many things along the way. WANDERING WILD sold to Alison Weiss at Egmont as INVINCIBLE WILD but everyone worried it sounded too much like a wilderness survival story, and I agreed. We all bounced around a lot of titles and WANDERING WILD was the most fitting. Now that Alison has acquired the book again at Sky Pony, I think (and hope!) it’s going to stick.
- What was your inspiration for WANDERING WILD?
I knew I wanted to write about a character who lived an unusual life and had her beliefs in her world shaken. Then I threw in a lot of other weird things, like the idea of a boy named Spencer Sway and a setting that looks like a Free People catalog. Those vague ideas slowly became my book.
- Why did you choose the setting for your book? Did you draw from any real places to create your world?
Quite honestly, I chose South Carolina as the setting because, while I was writing, James Taylor’s Carolina in my Mind started playing on Pandora. I intended to use South Carolina as a placeholder and change it later in revisions. Later I decided to keep it because the wildness of the setting complemented the struggles and emotions of my main character. The town itself, Cedar Falls, is fictional, but it’s based on my own experience of growing up in a small town without a lot of diversity and where most people had stiflingly conservative beliefs.
- Your book’s protagonist, Tal, is a young con artist. What research and sources did you pull from to get the details of her profession right?
I read SON OF A GRIFTER, the true story of Kent Walker, who was raised by a con artist mother. I also watched a lot of the Showtime show, Shameless.
- What was your favorite part about writing WANDERING WILD?
Writing the relationship between Tal and her brother, Wen. Sibling stories always fascinate me because I’m an only child and can only imagine what I would be like to have a sibling. I love vicariously experiencing that very important relationship through my characters.
- What was the hardest part about writing WANDERING WILD?
Tal is someone who rarely says what’s on her mind—in fact, she usually says the opposite. Making Tal someone readers could relate to and root for wasn’t always easy.
- What’s one thing you want readers to know about WANDERING WILD?
There are owls. The events concerning the owls were inspired by this frightening true story.
- Describe the type of reader you hope picks up this book when it’s on the shelves.
Strong girls. Scared girls. Girls on a path that’s clearly not for them. Girls who’ve been labeled. Girls who don’t want to be labeled. Boys who respect girls.
- If you could put together a playlist that represented WANDERING WILD, what are some of the songs that you would choose?
I’m Not Calling You a Liar by Florence + The Machine
Comin’ Up From Behind by Marcy Playground (It’s so delightfully con artist-esque!)
Infinite Arms by Band of Horses
You Are a Tourist by Death Cab for Cutie (Particularly for this line: “When you find yourself a villain in the story you have written, it’s plain to see that sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemption.”)
Good Feeling by The Violent Femmes
Girls Just Want to Have Fun—the Greg Laswell version
Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis (To me, this song is Tal.)
- Who is your favorite rogue character from a book, TV show, or movie?
Sydney Bristow from Alias. After the death of her fiancé, she shows moments of weakness that keep her relatable while also being completely badass and trying to take down the people who had him killed.
Jessica Taylor is a young adult novelist who adores sleepy southern settings, unrequited love, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California with a sweet-yet-spoiled dog and many teetering towers of books.