What’s Not Said by
Today we have with us, Valerie Taylor, the author “What’s Not Said”
Tell Us About You
What inspired you to start writing? What inspires you to keep writing?
I’m convinced writing is in my DNA. I won a short story contest in fifth grade about a trip to Mars. And then as an adult employed in corporate America, I wrote a boatload of non-fiction: memos, white papers, budgets, newsletters. Subsequently, as a marketing professional,I crafted hundreds of communications mostly for financial services institutions. But the bug to write a novel itched inside me. When I read Jennifer Weiner’s debut novel, Good in Bed, in 2001, I threw it across my bed and said, “I could do that!” And so I did. My debut novel, WHAT’S NOT SAID, was released in September 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. Publishing WHAT’S NOT TRUE, the sequel this past August means as a writer, I’m here to stay.
What is your writing process? Any rituals or must-haves (must not haves?) when you write?
Mornings are the best time for me to write. When I’m almost finished writing for the day, I write one or two sentences to jumpstart the next. Generally, before I start, I straighten up my desk. Neat desk, focused mind! I solve the New York Times mini crossword puzzle, or at least try to. Oh, and I must wear earrings! I pull on my earlobes when searching for an idea or word. Weird, huh?
Are you a “pantser” or a plotter? Why? Which works best for you?
Nothing is simple, right? I’ve been both a pantser and a plotter. For WHAT’S NOT SAID where I knew the ending, I was mostly a pantser, though I often would plot a scene or two ahead, but never the entire story. For WHAT’S NOT TRUE where I knew the middle, I did a one-page bulleted outline before I committed to writing to be sure there was enough of a story to tell. However, once I started, I don’t think I referred to that outline, and just “pantsed” my way through the book.
Being an Indie Author is tough, are there any things you’ve learned along the way that surprised you: Perhaps about writing, publishing, promotion, or yourself?
No one really tells you that being an author, Indie or otherwise, is a 24/7 proposition. I’m either promoting my backlist, launching a new book, writing a future book, arguing with my characters, and so on! The most pleasant surprise has been the welcoming reception and recognition WHAT’S NOT SAID has received, domestically and internationally. And now reviewers say that reading the sequel, WHAT’S NOT TRUE, is like sitting down with old friends for coffee or a martini!
What’s on the horizon for you?
Recently I committed to my publisher to write the third book in what I now call the WHAT’S NOT Series. I might spin off a secondary character in that book to be the protagonist in a cozy mystery series. I’ve been studying that genre, noodling ideas, reading Edgar Allen Poe and his contemporaries, and watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote. My challenge now is to complete the first trilogy before digging into the second. Wish me luck!
Of course! We wish you the best of luck!
Tell Us About the Book
What is “What’s Not Said” about?
In the award-winning debut, WHAT’S NOT SAID, Kassie O’Callaghan is confronted with a mid-life crisis. She’s stayed in her marriage long past its expiration date and has decided to file for divorce. Just as she’s about to serve papers to her emotionally abusive husband, she discovers he has a life threatening illness, truly mucking up her dream of moving in with a younger lover she’d met on a solo trip to Venice. Now, she must decide whose life to save: her husband’s or her own?
When did you start writing “What’s Not Said”? Finish?
I began writing this novel seriously in September 2017, one year after I retired. I type THE END of the first good draft eight months later in April 2018. Then seven months of editing and revision occurred before I submitted it to my ultimate publisher, She Writes Press.
Where did you get the idea from?
Not wanting to spoil the story, let me just say the ending of WHAT’S NOT SAID had swirled in my mind for a decade. I’d toyed with some chapters early on through my work with a small writer’s group. But the story didn’t blossom until I decided to keep the ending idea and chuck everything else. When I resurrected the story in 2017, I let the characters create their story and lead me to the conclusion.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled or where it just flowed like a waterfall?
Since WHAT’S NOT SAID is a story about a love triangle, there are logically three points-of-view. In the middle of the story, there’s one chapter from Kassie’s mother’s viewpoint. Before releasing the manuscript to my publisher, I wrestled with whether or not to keep it since it’s an outlier. In the end, I left it in because it contains elements critical to the other characters’ behaviors and motivations. If I’d deleted it, I would’ve had to weave those elements elsewhere in the story. Interestingly, readers have commented that they think that chapter is meaningful and, in fact, have suggested I write an entire book about Kassie’s mother. Who knew?
What type of person do you believe will get the most out of your story? Why?
Though technically women’s fiction, WHAT’S NOT SAID is geared toward the 85 million mature women in the U.S. alone who made chick lit popular in the 1990s. Older, many of those women are looking for stories about women they can relate to now. I like to say WHAT’S NOT SAID does for women’s fiction what Bridget Jones’s Diary did for chick lit more than two decades ago.
Born and raised in Stamford, CT, Valerie Taylor earned a B.S. Marketing degree and an MBA from Sacred Heart University, as well as a graduate certificate in health care administration from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College). She had a thirty- year career in the financial services industry as a marketer and writer.
After her divorce, she spread her wings and relocated her career to Boston and then to Seattle. When she retired, she resettled in her home state to be near her two grown children and granddaughter.
Valerie is a published book reviewer with BookTrib.com; and a member of Westport Writers’ Workshop, Independent Book Publishers Association, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She enjoys practicing tai chi and being an expert sports spectator.
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