by Michael TaylorMichael Taylor who recently published his debut novel, Survival of the Fittest. Many of my students have read his book and absolutely loved it1 I think one reason the book has become so popular is because readers identify with the characters and see themselves through their eyes.
The story begins one night when the seven teenagers awake to find they are completely alone. Their parents are gone, and it seems everyone on earth has disappeared as well. The electricity is off. Surrounded by darkness, the differences among them that once seemed so important no longer matter. They are the sole survivors of an alien attack and the last hope for humanity.
A big thank you to Michael for giving us a peek inside his writing and publishing process.
1. What made you want to write a science fiction novel?
I didn't really pick the genre of the book before I started. I began writing and this is where my story took me.
2. Where did you get the idea for Survival of the Fittest?
Most of my ideas come from movies, reading, and television.
3. How has being a teacher influenced your writing?
I think my style of writing has been greatly influenced by teaching. When I was in college I had a professor who hated my creative writing because I didn't use a lot of imagery and metaphor, but I think my style is what teen readers really look for. I feel kids today are part of the instant gratification generation and to make them stop and think about what they have to picture in their mind is, at this time in history, too much. Let's hope this will all swing back to more thoughtful writing.
4. As a full-time teacher, how do you fit writing into your schedule?
I make time. Writing is what I love to do, so no matter what, I'll build my fun into my schedule. It's very much like people who golf, do ceramics, or are active in social groups.
5. More writers are beginning to consider self-publishing over traditional publishing fpr various reasons. Why did you chose to self-publish your novel? Would you tell us a little about the process?
I self-published because I was getting nowhere by sending my manuscript to literary agents. The market isn't scrambling to find authors. So in doing some of my own research, I read that most literary agents won't even look at a manuscript until the author has been published. It's a smart thing for literary agents to do, it shows them who actually wants to be an author and who might be wasting their time.
The process was easy for me. I worked with iUniverse who basically walked me through the whole process. I had to pay for everything, but in the end, realizing a life-long dream, it was well worth it.
6. I know that you are an voracious reader of YA fiction. Which authors have been the biggest influence on you as a writer?
The biggest influence for me has been Neal Shusterman. I think this man is an unstoppable force in the realm of young adult literature.
7. What can your readers look forward to next?
I'm in the process of editing the first book in a second series I'm writing, The World Beyond - Ancient History and hope that the first book will be out by spring. I've also just finished the second book of Survival of the Fittest, subtitle, The Closest Enemy. The second book is a whole lot edgier than the first. And spinning in this head of mine are a million other stories that I hope to write. If all goes well, and writing turns out to be successful, I will keep readers well stocked with series upon series.
Here are a few of the comments students shared with me:
"My favorite character is Trevor because he acted very closely to the way a person would be expected to act in these circumstances. I really loved the ending, it was very interesting and suspenseful. The ending left room for another book, but it was still exciting." -Serena (7th. grade)
"The best part was when the blade comes out of Trevor's arm because it was really surpising. It was the beginning of the end! - Alexei (7th. grade)
If you enjoy reading fast-moving, action-packed science fiction, Survival of the Fittest is for you! You can read more reviews here.