Jeremiah doesn’t know what to expect when he goes to Parliss County. He knows nothing about the Auralites, and the life Tom once had before he left this strange community to become a simple high school counselor. He only hopes to spend his summer reconnecting with his estranged friend Alicia, and that the people who live here will help him become the exciting, confident man he’s always wanted to be. But his adventure takes an unexpected turn when he learns about Alexandra Cardor, a mysterious woman who came to this place many years ago in search of a new identity, and who may be the reason why Tom left his old life behind. As he explores Alexandra’s dark past, Jeremiah begins to learn more about Tom, a hidden feud among the Auralites, and why his summer in Parliss County may not be so wonderful after all.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author J. Taylor Baker whose book The Cardorian Complex thrilled me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love science fiction but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and J. Taylor Baker will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful J. Taylor Baker!
John Baker grew up as the oldest of three siblings in the small town of Bainbridge Island, Washington. He began writing at twelve years old but would not finish a complete draft of his first book until the summer of 2016, when he was twenty. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2018 with plans to pursue a career in mental health counseling. The Cardorian Complex is his first book.
Now, how wonderful does J. Taylor Baker sound?! J. Taylor Baker is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy J. Taylor Baker’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself
My real name is John Baker. I’m a first-time author who writes under the pen name J. Taylor Baker. Sometimes when people first reach out to me, they like to call me “J” so I tell everyone I’m fine being called John, haha. I recently graduated from Western Washington University with my B.A. and a few months after that, I published my first book. I’m currently twenty-three, but I’ve wanted to be an author since I was nearly twelve years old. Aside from writing, the only other profession I’ve taken seriously was getting involved in mental health counseling and childcare. I currently work at a nearby Boys and Girls Club and I’m trying to balance my time between work and writing so I can get a healthy dose of both my greatest passions.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
The Cardorian Complex is about a young boy named Jeremiah who has spent his last four years in high school trying to escape his reputation as the shy, quiet kid everyone perceives him to be. As graduation draws near, Jeremiah is worried he will spend the rest of his life as an outcast until the school’s counselor, Tom, reveals that he used to be a member of the Auralites: a secret community of people who can gain information about their personalities by studying aura. Tom offers to take Jeremiah and his friend Alicia to spend their summer with the Auralites, promising that the time they spend with these wise and unusual people will help them find the change they are seeking. But Jeremiah’s adventure takes an unexpected turn when he learns about Alexandra Cardor, a mysterious woman Tom brought to this place many years ago. As he explores Alexandra’s dark past, Jeremiah learns more about himself, the Auralites, and why his summer in Parliss County may not be so helpful after all.
I think my biggest inspiration for writing this book comes from my experiences going through school. Like Jeremiah, I was very quiet and introverted when I was younger. I constantly wanted my more extraverted classmates to be my friends and accept me as I was, but I also knew that in order to make friends, I had to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to them first. This is a problem I think resonates with a lot of people because we struggle with it every day no matter how old we become. We all experience this confusion of balancing our desire for acceptance and our desire for self improvement, and I wanted to put that conflict on display with my story so we can explore how both sides affect us.
I think what makes the The Cardorian Complex a unique coming-of-age story is how it adds a new perspective to the “just be yourself” message that is so common in young adult fiction. My book makes a point to show this message is not always a good moral because sometimes just being yourself is the problem. For example, if I were incredibly introverted and constantly relied on others reaching out to me in order to make friends, I would never develop the skills to build relationships and connections that I’d need to function in my adult life. There’s a lot of harsh reality in my book about how loving yourself as you are no matter what can be damaging. Instead of preaching about the importance of self acceptance, I tried to write a story that illustrates the pros and cons of both self acceptance and our desire to improve.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
I assume most writers have already heard “show don’t tell” and “write the book you want to read,” a thousand times by now, so I’ll do your audience a favor and give them something else, haha. Jokes aside, there are three pieces of advice I always plan to give when asked this question.
First, always write because you love it and not because you want to be famous. I’m still learning how to do this myself. When I was younger, I constantly imagined that when I grew up and got published I’d be an instant success. I dreamed of being the next J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King, and I’ve learned that when that’s your goal, you’ve already set yourself up for unhappiness. The publishing world has a lot of moving parts, and even when you’ve written a great book it still takes lightning in a bottle to have a fraction of that success. I want aspiring writers to focus on telling stories because they love it because it will make someone’s day a little brighter than it was before. If you write for love instead of fame, you will always be happier.
Second, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Nowadays there are many different routes to getting a book published and when things start to get messy, it’s easy to panic and think this could have been avoided if you’d done something different. As a self-published author, I’ve experienced this quite a lot, but nothing is ever the end of the world. If I don’t like a cover, I can always get it redesigned. If I’m not happy with sales, I can always relaunch a book and try again with a different marketing plan. You don’t need to get everything perfect right away, you just need to do it. If you make mistakes, learn from them and do a better job next time, but you’ll never get anywhere if you’re too paralyzed by fear to make that first step.
Third, accept that you can’t do this on your own. Even if you think you’re the best proof reader in the world, you always need multiple pairs of eyes to look over everything before you even consider publishing your work. There’s no need to feel ashamed. Every writer needs support, so don’t be afraid to seek it out.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
For me, the most important thing about a book is its characters. The greatest books you’ll ever read are the ones with characters who stick with you after you’ve turned that final page, making you wonder what they’ll do in five or ten years or how this lesson they learned can help you with your own life. A great book doesn’t just entertain you for a few days; it changes your outlook on the world and gives you characters you can hear in your head after the story is done. If you can write characters that truly connect with your reader, your book can live forever.
What is your writing process like?
Oh gosh, I’m not even sure I have one! I mainly just write whenever I have time. I tend to “overwrite” a lot in my first drafts and then decrease my word count in later drafts. Usually when I start a book I’ll have two or three possible endings I try to work for, and then as I write the story and learn more about my own characters, I realize which ending is best for my story. The best analogy I can make is that I’m like a kid with a coloring book. I know what I’m drawing and what it’s supposed to look like, but I don’t know what colors I’ll use until I start. If I think one color clashes with one I’ve already used, I’ll switch it up before I finish.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I did so much research for this book that ended up not being used in the story. Most of the research I did involved making the aurascope, a fictional device that is used to look at a person’s aura. I used something called the 16 Personality Factor model that was designed by Raymond Cattell to find the sixteen trait pairs that were measured in the Aurascope. I also did more research on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and Freud’s concept of the id, ego, and superego. For a while I did some research on Carl Jung’s concept of integration and individuation, but none of that research made it into the book.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I don’t have a schedule. I just write whenever I have time.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I don’t read as much as I want to. Part of that is just because I’m busy working and even when I do take the time to read, I get distracted easily and can’t focus unless I’m in the right mood. I’m making an effort to read more now that I’m out of school and have more time to spare. I have a few favorite authors. J.D. Salinger, who wrote The Catcher in the Rye, is someone I always try to emulate. I think I’m similar to him in terms of my occasional cynical outlook on American culture, and in the way I value a child’s innocence and unique wisdom that’s lost in older generations. When I think about the kind of reputation I’d like to have as an author, I think “the Modern Salinger,” has a nice ring to it.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I’ve finished the manuscript for my second book, which is called The Laws of Vanity. I’ve seen the cover and I may start posting about it on my social media pages. My expected release date is May 18, 2020.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with J. Taylor Baker! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,