Today we are chatting with Will Taylor, author of The Language of Seabirds
Read on for more about him, the book, and a giveaway!
Meet Will Taylor:
Will Taylor is a reader, writer, and honey bee fan. He has a degree in Sacred Architecture, a collection of Peanuts strips where Snoopy is on the phone, and an antique key he’s carried everywhere since he was ten just in case it’s magic. He lives in the heart of downtown Seattle surrounded by all the seagulls and nearly all the books. When not writing, he can be found hawking caramels for a local chocolate company or completely losing his cool when he meets longhaired dachshunds.
Over the last few years Will has been volunteer-teaching a picture book course for Freshman English classes at a local high school, and he cannot wait to get more involved helping kids and teens find and develop their voices in storytelling and writing in the future. He is also the author of Catch That Dog!, which went on sale last month from Scholastic Press.
About The Book: THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS
A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.
Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
More than anything, I wanted to write the book I needed as a twelve-year-old. I remember getting my first crush around that age and immediately feeling terrified in case somebody found out I liked other boys. Romantic attraction and shame became linked for me after that, and the absence of queer rep in the books I was devouring reinforced my belief that I was strange and alone and fundamentally unsafe. Happily, we’re getting more queer-focused kids’ books on the shelves these days, and I wrote Seabirds to give the awkward, introverted, romantic kids like me a story that acknowledged their feelings and showed them secure and thriving out under the sun.
Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I don’t really eat while I’m writing, I get too zoned out. But I’m always hungry after, and on big days I usually make a grilled cheese sandwich to get back to reality. There’s just something super grounding about the combo of warm cheese and salt and crispy bread, and okay, now I totally want one. They really are one of the most perfect foods.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love my cover so much, especially the gulfs of air you can feel lifting out over the ocean. That big-sky spaciousness is a core aesthetic within the book, and I was beyond happy to see it reflected on the cover.
Jeremy and Evan are perfect too. The way they’re sitting is totally in character, and the careful space between them shows the restraint and longing we feel in the first half of the book, along with just a hint of the warmth and closeness we get to see in the second. Covers are always a bit scary for authors, since we have no real control over them, and I got so, so lucky with this one.
What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I adored Healer of the Water Monster, by Brian Young. It’s the story of a Navajo boy finding his place within himself, his family, and his wider community, with the most perfect blend of interior and exterior growth. I especially loved that it portrayed a kid’s encounter with addiction in the family—something that comes up in Seabirds—with respect and care and hope. It’s a book about growing up while still leaving room for wonder. I cannot say enough good things about it. Absolutely everyone should read this book!
What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on what I hope will be my next middle grade book: a 12-century historical escape adventure full of castles and frozen rivers and treasure and swords and hidden keys and chases through midnight forests. After that, I’m beyond excited to jump into my first-ever YA project: a silly-scary-swoony musical-mystery-romcom (yeah, it’s a lot) (and super queer, of course) with a completely ridiculous hook that I cannot wait to share but have to keep under my hat for now.
Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
No question, the scene where Jeremy stands up to his father. Part of my intention in writing this book was to give uncertain twelve-year-old queer kids a happy example of self-emergence, but a book still needs conflict, and this scene is where I put it. And I have to say, I was surprised at how immediately the emotions I struggled with at that age—fear, vigilance, suppression, guilt, shame—rose up and made themselves known, even all these years later. It was a really tough scene to put my sweet Jeremy through. I was so proud of him by the end, though, and I hope readers will be too.
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or revising?
Ooh, can I say both? I love drafting when it’s going well. Drafting always feels vertical to me: either I’m sliding giddily downhill or I’m sweating as I pull my way inch by inch up a mountain. Revising is more like doing a puzzle: fun when the pieces are falling into place; frustrating as anything when they just won’t fit. I guess I could say that I love the problem-solving satisfaction you can get from revising, and I love the wild joy of discovery that arises from the best days of drafting. Hard days are hard no matter where you are in the process.
What would you say is your superpower?
It used to be finding four-leaf clovers; I saw those buddies everywhere! Now, though, it’s probably an even split between quoting The Great British Bake Off and finding excuses to buy ice cream.
Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I’m an enormous fan of DonorsChoose.org! Getting to help teachers meet specific needs within their classrooms is just such a great model, and the ability to search for schools near you adds that important local element. Many of the goals are super modest, but just from my own limited guest teaching experience I think fulfilling them can truly change lives. Plus getting a classroom over its goal is super satisfying.
What advice would you give to new writers?
The first piece of advice is to write a lot and read even more. That’s the foundation for everything. But after that I recommend checking out some writing guides. Stephen King’s On Writing was huge for me, like so many others, but it was the Save the Cat books (all three), along with Steering the Craft and The Wave in the Mind, both by Ursula K. Le Guin, that really helped me find my footing and develop a map of how writing books works for me.
Be sure you keep writing while you read, though. Most advice won’t truly land until you’ve finished at least two books or projects. So let yourself play. Write a silly, random book all in one go and then never look at it again. Get a writing prompt from a neighbor kid and write an entire novel from whatever they tell you. Dig those channels in your brain that say, “I am a person who writes and finishes books. This is what I do.” The more you write, the more writing will start to feel like home, and the easier it will be when you hunker down to let all those glorious stories waiting inside you out into the world.
Book’s Title: The Language of Seabirds
Author: Will Taylor
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Juvenile Fiction / LGBTQ+
Age Range: Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
Three winners will receive a signed bookplate and a copy of THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS (Will Taylor)~US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*