"Holy Toledo And The Virgin Shirley" Is An Intoxicating Literary Romp Crafted & Served By Robert Leland Taylor.

Welcome again to Madame Perry's Salon. It delights me to introduce a guest who may be new to you. The eclectic, artsy hamlet of Zanesville, Ohio is the home of artist and author Robert Leland Taylor.  

Most of you are fans of my co-interviewer, Grant Jerkins, author of A Very Simple Crime, The Ninth Step, and At The End Of The Road. Although many people, including author Kerry Dunn, author and publisher Sheryl Dunn, and myself encourage Taylor to get his work to the public, I believe it was Jerkins who gave him that last push off the ledge. So to speak. And away we go.

Grant Jerkins: What genre does Holy Toledo and the Virgin Shirley fit into? In a typical bookstore, in what section should your novel be shelved?

Robert Leland Taylor: I'll take any shelf—just get me in there. But if I had to choose, I'm torn between Humor and Sci-fi. Like most writers, successful or struggling, I hate being categorized at all. A large table at the very front of the store would do nicely.
GJ: What kind of people read your books? Who is the average Robert Leland Taylor reader? What do they look like?

RLT: Well, I hope my work appeals to a broad audience, although my protagonists are generally quite young. Sometimes I picture my nine readers that way—young, bewildered and slightly demented.
Madame Perry: To my delight I found Holy Toledo and the Virgin Shirley shared many of the qualities I love in Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. Your use of dark humor, satire and science fiction was a surprise at first, but I wasted no time in strapping on the seatbelt for the ride. Are you a Vonnegut fan?

Robert Leland Taylor

RLT: Huge Vonnegut fan. I was drawn to his unconventional style, humor, and shared many of his sentiments regarding our priorities here on the planet, although I certainly didn't share his genius in expressing them. Early on I made a conscious effort to avoid mimicking him, realizing that a Vonnegut wannabe would garner about as much acclaim as an Elvis impersonator. Speaking of which—before Elvis' career took off, a music producer asked him who he sounded like. “I don't sound like nobody,” he said. That's my goal, too—I don't wanna write like nobody.
Grant Jerkins
GJ: I know you’re a painter, and I have to say I’m quite taken with the images you create. There is a wistful, forlorn quality to your art. Loneliness is prominent. Isolation. Often, human figures are absent, and when they are included, they are typically dwarfed by landscape and structures—sometimes at the expense of scale. Your novels, however, have more humor and are first and foremost about people. You could even say the people in your fiction exert themselves over structures and institutions. They triumph, whereas the people in your paintings succumb. I wonder if you are driving at the same truth with both forms, or is there a dichotomy there?

RLT: Wow. I've never had my work analyzed with such depth and detail. There is a sadness to existence, and it succeeds in breaking through in our lives, no matter how hard we try to keep it at bay with humor, art, literature and any other earthly distraction we can conjure. For me, sadness is a natural state, and any interruption to that state, no matter how brief, is euphoric and very much worthwhile. My sad paintings may reflect the reality of life, and the humorous writing could very well represent the way I wish things were. Bullshit? Probably. But it's true to me.
MP: What authors, or artists, do you feel had the greatest effect and influence on you and your work?

"Regrets" by Robert Leland Taylor
RLT: Well, I can tell you which author inspired me to start writing—Shephard Mead. The novel was called The Carefully Considered Rape of the World, a sci-fi. I was below drinking age at the time, which helped considerably with comprehension and the motor skills required to turn pages. I devoured the novel, wrote one just like it—or similar to it, only not as good—called Where Dead People Go. It sucked big-time and remains somewhere in my closet with three other big-time stinkaroos from the learning days. (Although one of them won an honorable mention somewhere but please don't make me look it up)

MP: Is there a certain music you enjoy while writing, or a preferred place in which to write?

RLT: I can work anywhere, but pretty much prefer a quiet atmosphere where I can hear the voices in my head. I've written at my place of employment before, scribbling on a clipboard while pretending to attend to some work-related matter of great importance.

GJ: Nathan, the protagonist in HolyToledo and the Virgin Shirley, has a universal appeal. He’s an everyman. Befuddled but smart. Simultaneously weak and strong. He doesn't entirely understand the world around him, but it’s a world that doesn't make much sense. Still, he does the best he can with it. Are there aspects of you reflected in Nathan?

RLT: Yeah, quite a bit, actually. And I'm assuming those characteristics pertain to most in the everyman category. I suspect that I'm similar to my protagonists in a number of ways, but quietly pray that I'm wrong.

GJ: Can you tell us a little about your vestigial twin?

RLT: Well, as you know, I try to keep that part of my life private, but thanks for asking. Trebor and I get along much better these days and no longer entertain thoughts of a surgical separation. Doctors deem the operation too dangerous, and even if it were successful, Trebor would have a difficult road ahead, being only eleven inches tall when removed from my abdomen. Sure, we still argue on the bus at times, but Trebor (that's Robert spelled backward, for those who don't know) is a huge, necessary part of me.

MP: I think I hear Trebor now, which means it's time for your ride back to Zville. We wish you much success, and look forward to your next book, A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Through The Ant Farm. Thank you, Robert, for sharing time with us. I love your FaceBook and Twitter posts more than you can imagine. Thanks also to you, Grant, and I hope you will have time to visit again very soon.
RLT: Thanks for inviting me to Madame Perry's, and it's great to see Grant Jerkins here. I've been a big fan and admirer of your work for several years now. (Looks around) Wow, it

looks like the inside of Jeannie's bottle in here. Nice. Smells like Lysol and vanilla—not the artificial kind, but the real stuff from beans. At least I think vanilla comes from beans, doesn't it? Not the artificial kind, but the...never mind.
MP: I am delighted to have both of you here, Robert and Grant, and I wish you both much success as even more people discover your books. Grant, I look forward to another visit from you soon as well!

Please follow Robert L. Taylor on FaceBook and Twitter. You can get the Holy Toledo And The Virgin Shirley on Amazon. You may leave questions for either of these gentlemen in the comments section.



Jennifer Perry said…
Thank you, Robert and Grant, for a delightful visit. Robert, I'd like for you to design the book cover for Memoirs Of A Misanthrope, please.
Madame P.
Eugenia said…
Great artist, that is why i love about art, your creation reveals who we are and Art always returns one way or another to nature and it also involve both the taking and giving of beauty and joy, i enjoy your post a lot thanks
David H. said…
There was a reprise link that got me to reread this excellent interview. Good stuff!
Jennifer Perry said…
Thank you, David, glad to hear that. Taylor is quite the clever and enigmatic fellow to follow on Twitter & Facebook.

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