C.S. Taylor is a former Marine and avid fencer (saber for the most part, foil and epee are tolerable). He enjoys all things WWII, especially perfecting his dogfighting skills inside virtual cockpits, and will gladly accept any P-38 Lightnings anyone might wish to bestow upon him. He’s also been known to run a kayak through whitewater now and again, as well give people a run for their money in trap and skeet.
His latest book is the historical fiction, Nadya’s War.
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Nadezdah "Little Boar" Buzina, a young pilot with the Red Army's 586th all-female fighter regiment, dreams of becoming an ace. Those dreams shatter when a dogfight leaves her severely burned and the sole survivor from her flight.
For the latter half of 1942, she struggles against crack Luftwaffe pilots, a vengeful political commissar, and a new addiction to morphine, all the while questioning her worth and purpose in a world beyond her control. It's not until the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad that she finds her unlikely answers, and they only come after she's saved the life of her mortal enemy and fallen in love with the one who nearly kills her.
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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?
First, thanks for having me! I’m not sure what first inspired me to write, other than my first attempt at a story was due simply because I’ve always liked creative things like writing, drawing, painting, and Legos (who doesn’t like Legos?). I believe my first “book” was a “Little Mr. Soccer” book I did in first grade (maybe?) and modeled after the Little Mister series by Roger Hargreaves.
I can, however, certainly point to my dad who kept encouraging me to write and still does. One instance of his ongoing support that really stands out is around 7th or 8th grade, one of my English teachers had us journal each day, but instead of just journaling, we were allowed to write a story. So, I opted to do that and began writing some Aliens fanfiction. Being in a public school, I censored a lot of the language, obviously, but my dad went to my English teacher and said he’d prefer if I didn’t as writing shouldn’t be censored, especially if the language being used was true to the character.
I was a bit shocked that not only did he suggest that, but my English teach agreed. So, I might have taken advantage of the situation to really pump out some pages that would have raised a few eyebrows elsewhere. And once you’re hooked writing, it’s hard to stop.
At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
As I mentioned before, I was always trying. I don’t think it dawned on me I should try to get published until maybe tenth grade or so. Around that time, I managed to finish my first 90k word novel (terrible, but fun to look back on), and once I knew I could stay focused on a single story that much, I just kept going, getting slowly better with each try.
Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?
I take mental notes all the time, especially for characters or plot devices I like. There’s a huge downside to doing that though, and that I find it’s hard to get sucked in to a movie sometimes as I’m analyzing what’s going on too much.
Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?
First, believe in yourself and keep writing no matter what. I know that’s advice that everyone gives all the time, but it’s the truth. Everyone starts at the beginning. Everyone has tons of doubts and obstacles along the way, but it’ll never happen if the effort isn’t there.
Second, write for what works for you and what you like. That’s the only way you’ll have a voice on the text that’s true to you. Third, make sure you have people who will critique your work mercilessly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have family and friends read and gush over it, but hands down my best beta readers and editors have been the ones who have given me a solid kick in the teeth as to why a book doesn’t work (or *gasp* is terrible).
I suppose there’s a subpoint to number three in that any aspiring writer needs to develop a thick skin, but it’s not so much for the bad reviews that eventually come by someone, somewhere, but rather so you can take good, constructive criticism and see what’s wrong with your plot, characters, pacing, etc. and be able to fix it.
Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?
I do, but that’s because I’m human. I dare say every writer gets distracted at some point, so I’d say to anyone struggling with that is to purposefully carve out time each day / week to get back on the horse.
What hours do you write best?
Late night. I have a house full of littles, and it’s hard to concentrate when there are four tiny tornadoes ripping through everything. Also, during the day I’m brainstorming when I can, jotting little notes, etc. so at the end of the day I have a better idea what I want to do.
How often do you write?
I try to make some time every day, even if its editing or flushing out ideas.
Are you an avid reader?
More than some, not nearly as much as others I know who devour books like I pop M&Ms.
What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m going through Benjamin Wallace’s Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors with plans on finishing the series. It’s fun and very much an escape book, which I’m in the mood for. After that, I’ll probably dive into Kathryn Atwood’s Women Heroes of World War I which I’ve been meaning to get to.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m in general research mode, toying with the setting for my next novel. Continuing with the 586th all-female fighter regiment is on the table since that is the group Nadya’s War is focused on, but there’s appeal to jump to a sister regiment (I have my eye on the 587th bomber regiment), not to mention there are some other time periods I might go to first.