Interview with historical fiction author Kyle Taylor

Today’s
special blog guest is Kyle
Taylor
. He’s sharing about his newest book, Wildflower: The Dramatic Life of Barbette – Round Rock’s First and
Greatest Drag Queen
as part of a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions.
Kyle will
be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to the person who leaves the best question or comment. To be
entered for a chance to win, leave a
comment below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
other tour stops
and leave comments there, too.
Bio:
The
character of Kyle Taylor debuted in the novel Billion Dollar Dreamer as
a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history
teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil.
 Kyle is an award-winning journalist
who writes for the gay magazine, The
Advisor
. He grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, attending private
schools with other trust fund punks. He graduated from Harvard University and
is presently dating billionaire philanthropist, John Driskil. Oh yeah, he is a
complete work of fiction.
Welcome, Kyle. Please tell us about
your current release.
Wildflower is the story of a real-life person,
Vander Clyde Broadway, who grew up in a small town north of Austin, Texas,
called Round Rock in the early 1900’s. Vander sees the circus as a child and is
transfixed. He’s a runt of a boy with big dreams. At sixteen he leaves Round
Rock and tries out with the Alfaretta Sisters aerial act. They are a trapeze
and high wire act. Vander has to wear drag in order to get the gig. From there
he just develops his act into a highly-stylized drag impersonation of a female
aerialist, who he calls ‘Barbette’. He eventually caught the attention of
talent agent William Morris, who books him in London and then Paris where he
becomes a sensation.
But that is
just the start of his adventures! This is a guy who should have been washed up
in his late thirties after a devastating bout of polio, but he is tough as
nails and becomes a highly respected director of aerial ballets for the
Ringling Circus. He associates with some of the greatest cinematic directors of
his day – Minnelli, Welles, Cukor. Every decade is a new challenge.
There is a
grit to Barbette’s story – a Seabiscuit
sort of quality to his life, I really tried to bring out.
What inspired you to write this book?
For my last
two books, Exposition and Billion Dollar
Dreamer
, I had very specific outlines for each work set up before the
actual writing.
For this
book, I had a very different sort of outline than what actually came of it. I
was going to do a parallel sort of story – juxtaposing 1914 Barbette with
another modern young person growing up in Round Rock in 2014. Both were gay and
I wrestled with the question, what was different then versus now?
But as I
kept digging into Barbette, and retrieving little tidbits from parts of his
life, I was totally captivated by his story. His career spanned far longer than
I first knew. And he encountered fascinating people of his era. So I decided to
scrap my original plan and work just with material from Barbette’s life.
Excerpt:
Crowning the side of her head was the
smartest crimson hat Vander had ever seen. If her appearance wasn’t striking
enough, there was the matter of the fully grown cheetah walking alongside her.
Lean and slinking on a sparkling chain attached to a jeweled collar, the
cheetah most certainly put the woman over the top. Passersby cleared a path for
the woman and her wild animal as she made way down the street—the woman’s head
held high and mischievously proud, pretending not to notice the commotion she
was causing as she made way.
            “Please!
Stop looking at her!” Radiguet begged.
            “Josephine!”
Cocteau remarked with some excitement and knowing. “Your only true
competitor—the great Josephine Baker! Look at how she walks down the street—African
queen of the jungle! I don’t know what they are putting into the water in
America to grow such exotic flowers as you both.”
            Vander
was well aware of Josephine Baker. Her scandalous dance, where she only wore a
skirt of bananas tied low about her hips, was the talk of Paris. If Barbette’s
star shone bright, Josephine Baker was a super nova.
“She has a cheetah!” Vander exclaimed.
            “Yes!”
Radiguet said extremely agitated. He held his hand up to the side of his face to
hide his visage from her so she would not recognize him if she turned her head
toward the front window of Harry’s. “The cheetah has an unpleasant
disposition!” Radiguet warned. “Chiquita is her name. She terrifies me! How
Josephine is not arrested on the spot for having such an animal roaming the
streets!”
Vander could do nothing by gape.
“Don’t look her way or she will come
over!” Radiguet hastened.
“It is a good thing Princess Violette
is at home, because you know she would have made a big fuss,” Cocteau added.
“It seems the princess fancies Josephine. She excites her. She finds her
fascinating.”
            “In
all my time in America, I’ve never seen a Negro looking like that!” Vander
exclaimed. He watched Josephine move down the street, like an exotic cat herself—so
strong and confident, yet her eyes were vivid and alert tingling with a hint of
mirth. The woman owned the street, with or without her pet cheetah!
            Then,
almost directly across from Harry’s Bar, a blonde driver in a black,
gold-braided uniform emerged from a long, white Rolls Royce with sweeping lines
and fancy running boards. The chauffer opened the rear door to the stunning
automobile. Josephine was ten paces from the car. She released the cheetah’s
lead and the cat leapt inside of the auto in a single bound. Josephine smiled
at her driver as she stepped into the car.
            “Unbelievable!”
Vander remarked, eyes wide open. “I’m not in Round Rock, Texas anymore!”
            “You
most certainly are not!” Cocteau replied with a flourish. 
            “Thank
god she is driving away,” Radiguet
said, quickly downing his Bloody Mary to settle his nerves.
            “If there is one way to keep
autograph hounds from running up, that is it!” Cocteau smiled. He too downed is
midday cocktail and turned to Vander. He pushed back from the table. “Now, we
must head onto our next great adventure. Vander, my dear, have you ever seen a
pornographic film?”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’ve
written three major novels in three years. Each of them necessitated a great
deal of research. I’ve decided to take a break this summer – travel and relax. I
do have another subject for the next Kyle Taylor book, but I need to do more
research. We will see if I stay with that after a long rest.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I really
consider myself more of a director. I think each of my books are very visual
and told in a cinematic sort of way. I don’t know if I can ever be a writer.
They are too talented.
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?
I have a
fulltime job and I also write freelance. Putting a book together is a craft. I
am very disciplined and will work on the craft every day after my day job. You
have to really feel passionate about it. There’s no way to write four hundred
pages half-assed. You will lose enthusiasm long before you finish.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
My home has
to be clean and smell nice before I write. I will dust and tidy up everything
so it feels settled in my mind. I have certain lights in my living room I must
have on – no matter how much light is coming into the room. I am completely OCD
about it.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I wanted to
be interesting enough to be interviewed on the Mike Douglas show!
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Wildflower was the first book I crafted entirely
on my own. The images for the print book, the font choices – everything was my
vision. I became obsessed with trying to tell Barbette’s story in a way that
would honor who he was. I hope the work makes people want to know more about
this fascinating performer!

10 thoughts on “Interview with historical fiction author Kyle Taylor

  1. Unknown says:

    Thanks Lisa for your support! Everyone – ask me an interesting question and you could be the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So eager to read this! Do you think performers from small towns are more drawn to performing drag than those from big cities?

    vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  3. Unknown says:

    Thanks for the enthusiasm everyone! Vitajez, we'll have to watch more of Ru Paul's drag race to see! haha! It seems like today that the best drag comes from urban areas. But there are lots of stories of gay men in fashion, like Halston for example, who came from country backgrounds. If anything, my impression of Barbette was that the hard work ethic of his family was instilled into his legendary preparation for his act.

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