Interview with humorist Bryan Taylor

There are
some laughs in store today because Bryan Taylor is here to talk about his novel
The Three Sisters.

Bryan is giving away a signed paperback copy of his book to a lucky commenter — use the form below to enter for a chance to win.

Bryan Taylor is a double PK, a
preacher’s kid of a preacher’s kid. With that legacy he faced two destinies,
being an unhappy triple PK (Jubilees 17:23, “He that is born unto the son of a
preacher and himself preaches shall be miserable until his dying day and suffer
eternal damnation.”), or being sacrilegious and happy.

He decided to forsake the
Southern Baptists for Catholicism, but when he applied to join a convent, he
was rejected (sex discrimination!), so he decided to do the next best thing:
write a novel about the three nuns he would most like to meet.

Bryan Taylor was born in
Louisiana, grew up in Michigan and Texas, went to school in Tennessee, South
Carolina, and California, taught in Switzerland for a year, and has traveled to
50 countries, more than any Pope except Saint John Paul II. He now lives in
California, which is one of the few places with people crazier than him.
Bryan! Please tell us about your current release.
Three Sisters
about three former nuns who just want to have fun! But when they have too much
fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run. The novel is
set back in 1979 and primarily takes place in Washington, D.C.
Coito Gott is the leader of the group
who survived twelve years of Catholic School. She never liked the way the nuns
treated her, so after she is kicked out of college, she becomes a novitiate so
she can change the Catholic Church from the inside, but soon realizes this is a
lost cause.
After escaping from the convent with a
priest who falls for her, she meets Theodora Suora in Appalachia and Regina
Grant in Washington, D.C., and thus, the three sisters are born.
Driving back to Washington, D.C. where
they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are
arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they
escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous, misogynistic Detective
Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on
the 700 Club.
Three Sisters
is a
humorous, adult satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the
government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed, and every other part of
the establishment. As I like to say, maybe not the greatest story ever told,
but possibly the funniest.
What inspired you to write this book?
I conceived
the plot of the book back in college when a friend of mine gave me photos of
some nuns she had found in a book. I turned one of the pictures into a Wanted
poster, and the second into a story about three nuns kidnapping an elderly
couple and demanding three well-built men in exchange.
thought the posters outside my dorm room were funny and wondered what the nuns
were going to do next. Not one to deny the demands of my public, I started
“publishing” an episode each week and thus the tale of the three was born.
In graduate
school, I converted this into a novel. I sent the book off to various people,
but for some reason, I had no success in convincing agents and publishers to
take on a novel about rebellious former nuns who are hunted down by a misogynistic,
Catholic-loathing detective.
The novel sat
in my closet for the next 30 years until a writer friend of mind told me how
easy it was to get self-publish. I only had a typewritten manuscript of The Three Sisters, since it had been
written before computers made publishing and editing so simple. So I took the
next logical step, and outsourced my nuns to India. They actually enjoyed the
visit since they had never been there and were tired of being stuck on the
upper shelf in my closet. I got a Word version of the novel, found a good
editor, worked with her on getting it published, and now my three former nuns
are ready to entertain and astonish the world with their exploits.
(From Chapter
One of our goals
in Catholic School was to save the Pagan Babies. For only five dollars, which
seemed like a pretty good deal to me, we could get a Pagan Baby baptized and
sent to heaven. They even showed us short movies of Catholic missionaries in
Africa baptizing the Pagan babies to spur us on. We could buy a saint stamp for
ten cents to paste in a book, and when the book was full, we could redeem the
book for a Pagan Baby, whom we could name on our Pagan Baby Adoption
Certificate. When we were first told about this opportunity, I rushed home to
my parents and said, “Guess what, I’m going to have a baby, and she’s black,”
which would have given my dad multiple heart attacks were it not for the
biological impossibility of my statement at that tender age.
Catholic equivalents to S&H Green Stamps prepared us for the future because
they taught us how to buy on the installment plan. I asked our teacher if our
book were half full, if we could we redeem it for half a Pagan Baby, but she
said no, so there was always a rush to fill the book before the Pagan Baby
Awards Day ceremony. There was a poster with Jesus in a pastoral scene at the
front of the classroom and every time someone adopted a Pagan Baby, we got to
add a child to the poster. By the end of the school year, Jesus had become the
most prolific father in history.
In a way I
thought the pagans were lucky. They automatically went to limbo and didn’t risk
going to Hell until the missionaries baptized them. I could just imagine tribes
fleeing the missionaries to make sure they kept their spot reserved in limbo.
When my mother told me that our dog had gone to “Doggie Heaven,” I wondered
whether unbaptized pagan dogs went to “Doggie Limbo.”
realizing that once the Pagan Babies were baptized, they too would need a
Catechism to guide them along the straight and narrow path, I wrote K’s Catechism for Cannibals in perfect
Palmer Method penmanship, providing dozens of important questions and answers
as well as prayers written just for the pagan cannibals.
Q: Is it better
to cook a Virgin Martyr or a Heretic?
A: It is
better to cook a Virgin Martyr than a Heretic because the Virgin Martyr is
sweeter to the palate and the meat is softer to cook than that of a Heretic.
Q: Should a
converted Cannibal woman continue to walk around topless?
A: A
converted Cannibal should continue to walk around topless because Priests are
celibate and will not be tempted.
I even
provided the cannibals with a prayer to say before each meal.
Our Martyr,
who hath been cooked, blessed be thy meat. Thy flesh be done, so thy sweet
taste will fill us when we eat.
I sold my
literary creation to my fellow students for a dime and then contributed all my
earnings to converting the Pagan Babies in Africa. Despite my altruistic
intentions, when the sisters got a copy of my addition to the canon, they
imposed an excessive number of penances on me. The nun who imposed the greatest
guilt and fear in us was Sister Mary Margaret whom we referred to as Attilla
the Nun because she behaved more like a four-foot, ten-inch tall Auschwitz
prison matron than a Sister of Mercy. Some students were convinced that not
only did she have eyes in the back of her head, but that the Blessed Virgin
Mary had endowed her with the ability to see through walls and read our minds.
It was rumored that she made extra money in the summer by training Marine Drill
Sergeants, and we had no doubt that she gave every penny she made to the
church. We joked that Satan would rather do battle with the Archangel Gabriel
than Sister Mary Margaret because at least Satan had a chance with Gabriel.
Even K watched her step around Attila the Nun.
What exciting story are you working on
Most of the
people who have read The Three Sisters
have wondered if there is going to be a sequel or if it will be part of a
series, so I’ve been thinking about what new trouble my nuns could get
themselves into. In the meantime, I’ve been writing some short stories, about
the bizarre ideas that pop into my head, about a miracle-working saint in
Central America, about having face-to-face interviews with Jesus (it turns out
Jesus loved to play practical jokes on the Pharisees), about Al Gore’s Cannibal
Café’s, about an embalmed dictators tour, you know, the usual things. I’m sure
at some point, they will all coalesce into my next novel.
When did you first consider yourself a
It would
have to be in college when I put together The
Three Sisters
. Everyone seemed to enjoy my serial and the humor, so I was
hooked. On the other hand, after I finished the novel in 1983, I didn’t touch
it again until 2012, so I’ll have to admit, I do have some long periods of
writer’s block.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
No, I don’t
write full time. I got a Ph.D. in Economics (hope the mention of Economics
didn’t scare everyone off), and I spend most of my time analyzing and
organizing financial data on the stock market (there went the last person. Is
someone snoring?) In addition to the Nun’s Blog which I write for my novel and
put on the Three Sisters website, I also write a blog on the stock market and
on financial history. So far, my blog for the stock market has gotten more
attention than the blog by my nuns, which is a bit of a disappointment, but
since nuns live in poverty and people are interested in the stock market to
make money, I can understand the result. I write on the stock market at work
and on nuns at home after work. Maybe I should write a novel about nuns who put
together mathematical algorithms based upon Gregorian Chant that they use to
make a killing in the futures market.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I talk to
the ceramic penguins in my yard to get inspiration. They inspire me, and bizarre
ideas that pop into my head and find their way into the novel. I love to play
with words and twist them around to give them new meaning.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
Alive mainly.
I didn’t want to be a nun. I would have had to have a sex change and follow the
rules, and those would be two things I couldn’t abide by. To be honest, I never
had anything that I clearly wanted to aim for.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I enjoyed
the whole process of publishing my novel on my own. I could do exactly what I
wanted to with the book and make it come out just as I wanted it to be. I had
some great editors who supported me throughout the process. I don’t think the book
would have been the same if I had gone through a mainstream publisher. The book
wouldn’t have had the crazy humor, the unusual plot twists, the illustrations
from Catholic books from 100 years ago or the stylistic idiosyncrasies that
make the novel what it is. The trade-off of publishing your book independently
is that it is much harder to get noticed and get people to read your book, but
it’s worth it. You can make sure the novel is what you want it to be, not what
someone else thinks the public wants it to be. Without e-books and Amazon and
other resources, my book might never have been published because it doesn’t fit
into any pre-defined category, it would have been too controversial for many
publishers to take the chance, and even if they had, they probably would have
wanted to shape it to be like the book they would have written, not like the
book I wanted it to be. So if you want to publish a book on your own, just do

Thanks, Bryan!

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