ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS came out on August 18. My main character is inspired by the heroine of Daniel Defoe’s 1722 novel, Moll Flanders. ETIQUETTE is the story of a young woman’s regret, ambition, and a quest for redemption that will take her from Virginia to Prohibition-era New York, and on to Jazz-age Paris in 1925 in a search for answers to the questions: how do we ask forgiveness when we’ve intentionally deceived the people who love us most? And how do we forgive ourselves?
What's your writing process?
Well, like any historical novelist, I first decide on setting, character, and time period. I don’t write sequentially. Scenes and characters come to me and then I write forward and backward, connecting things and losing what doesn’t work. Once I have a finished draft I do a lot of revising and work on characterization. I like to start working first thing in the morning, (sometimes, I confess, in bed, with dogs and coffee). If I’m puzzling out a plot point or not feeling the dialogue, I’ll do research instead. I can start on Pinterest and then I’ll look up and it’s getting dark and the dogs are like, yo, where’s our dinner?
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
I’m finding—as I begin my third novel—that like to write around historical events that aren’t that well known, or else use actual legal or medical cases. For ETIQUETTE, those were The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, and Josephine Baker’s 1925 Paris debut in Le Revue Negre. For my second novel, I set the plot around the events of the Veteran’s Bonus March that happened in Washington, D.C. the summer of 1932. Each era has its own character, and I’m finding I can’t stick to just one.
Do you listen to music while you write?
Sometimes. For both of my novels I’ve had playlists, with some music of the era I’m writing about and also some mood music, and I’ll play the same set of songs every time I work on a particular scene. For instance, in working on a traumatic flashback scene in ETIQUETTE, I played Natalie Merchant’s My Skin on repeat. When I was writing the dance contest I played a lot of Tango music by Gotan Project.
What's your favorite genre to read?
Classic Literature and 20th century literature. I love Dickens, the Brontës, Truman Capote, and Daphne du Maurier.
What are you reading right now?
GREEN DOLPHIN STREET by Elizabeth Goudge. I got a 1944 copy on eBay. I love old books. I’m also reading Jotham Burrello’s debut novel, SPINDLE CITY. Jotham and I will do a library event together next week. I’m listening to THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston, for the umpteenth time. The late Ruby Dee narrates, and it is my #1 audiobook of all time. I named a character Janie, after Hurston’s Janie Starks.
What's the next project and when can we expect it?
Right now I’m working on pre-publication edits for my second novel, working title: IN ALL GOOD FAITH, which is coming next August 10, also from the wonderful crew at Blackstone Publishing. It’s a stand-alone sequel to ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS. It’s set during the Great Depression, around the events of the summer of 1932 Veteran’s Bonus March on Washington D.C. May will be back, as well as some familiar characters, but it’s a dual narrative. About halfway through the two main characters will meet and influence each other’s lives in ways they could never had anticipated. It’s the story of two women’s unlikely success during the Great Depression.
Liza Nash Taylor was a 2018 Hawthornden International Fellow and received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts the same year. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine; Deep South, and others. Her debut historical novel, ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS released on August 18 from Blackstone Publishing and is listed in Parade Magazine’s 30 Best Beach Reads of 2020 and Frolic’s 20 Best Books of Summer 2020, and is the August book of the month for 50-Plus Today. A native Virginian, she lives in Keswick with her husband and dogs, in an old farmhouse which serves as a setting for her novels.