Indie Saturday – Author Tom Taylor on “In Memory of Todd Woods” (With Giveaway!)
** Tom Taylor is offering a FREE download of “In Memory of Todd Woods” through Jan 14 via Smashwords! (Use this coupon code CG39F to get it for FREE) **
Today, we have author Tom Taylor featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for his debut coming-of-age novel “In Memory of Todd Woods” (Available at Amazon). Tom Taylor tackles suicide, love and friendship among a group of very real teens. (We read the sample on Amazon and liked it so much we had to invite him!)
Author Tom Taylor writes about ‘In Memory of Todd Woods’:
Coming-of-age stories tend to be very personal, don’t they? Which leads many readers to assume that the writer is simply cataloguing his or her own experiences. I brought this on myself a little harder, maybe, by setting my book In Memory of Todd Woods in a perfect replica of my own high school and hometown in Connecticut.
And sure, there’s a lot of me in my main character Bob. Like him I know maybe a little too much about Star Trek, and in high school I mooned over a girl or two, had zero idea what to do about it, and hid in the AV room with my friends, pretending not to care. Unlike Bob, though, I had no beautiful and unattainable Ellen Trumbull show up out of nowhere to suddenly upend my whole life, become my girlfriend, and drag me into the popular crowd.
To be honest, I really don’t know for sure where Ellen Trumbull came from. I like her and I understand her, but I’ve never really known anyone quite like her. On the one hand, she’s the It Girl, the Most-Popular-Girl-in-School Girl, the girl every guy would of course be in love with. And yes, she’s the girl every writer would want his fictional alter-ego to hook up with. But as much as Ellen’s role in the story might sound like obvious wish fulfillment on my part, it’s not that easy. As much as she seems to have it all together, she’s actually very haunted, and she really does have very good reasons for approaching Bob the way she does.
Some of those reasons might have to do with the recent suicide of her friend Todd Woods. Todd had been the Most-Popular-Guy-in-School Guy, and no one seems to know why a guy like that, with the world on a string, would ever want to take his own life. But Ellen and her friends know, and maybe she isn’t so much running to Bob as she is running from something else.
But, even if this amazing girl just lands in Bob’s lap, this is still high school, which means that nothing is easy. The trouble is that Bob’s best friend Pete is also one of those guys who’s in love with Ellen Trumbull. And yes, I do know what it’s like to be that guy. It’s not easy for Pete, seeing his best friend trot off with the girl of his dreams. He doesn’t know what they do together, but he can still torture himself by guessing.
This is the kind of thing that Bob and Pete never saw coming, and they are completely unequipped to deal with it, as is their close circle of friends. Martin may be an angry quasi-punk rock agitator, but that doesn’t keep him from going all doe-eyed for Maggie Smart. Not only does she possess the serene inner beauty that could calm his raging brain, but if Bob and Pete aren’t going to be his stable foundation anymore, he’s got to land somewhere. And Jen hates to see Bob and Pete growing apart and tries to help, but maybe tries too hard. I feel bad for Jen. Things get very tangled for her.
Of course, things get tangled for everybody. As things go from confusing to bad to unrecognizable, some of these characters begin to think that maybe they do know what happened to Todd Woods.
But it’s not all hopeless. I feel I’ve written a book about vibrant, intelligent young people meeting intense changes head on. Whatever they do to make it to the other side, they’ve come of age.
Tom Taylor was raised in Connecticut. He studied writing at Emerson College in Boston, and received his MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife and son. This is his first novel.
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Read an embedded sample of “In Memory of Todd Woods” after the jump!