Payton Salmons and Taylor Bivens, writing under the pseudonym Payton Taylor, are two co-authors who love chocolate, good books, and lady assassins. They enjoy all genres of books and write across multiple genres as well including fantasy, paranormal, and thriller. Their first book, Crown of Sunlight, will be published soon! You can follow along with them on their writing journey by checking out their site by clicking on the link below.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you wanted to do with your life? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you so much for this opportunity, we really appreciate it! I think deep down we’ve always wanted it. We’ve always been “live with your head in the clouds” kind of people. Always making up stories and jokes and characters. But we started “seriously” writing about three years ago. We’ve both always enjoyed reading, but I think we had the thought of “wow, I can’t do this” or “that’ll never be us” when it came to writing, but once we went for it, we couldn’t stop. Writing is our passion, and it’s to the point now that we feel weird if we skip a night of it. I think one of the most frustrating things about being a writer is when people dismiss it as easy or frivolous. Finishing a book and then going through it, over and over, editing and rewriting can be difficult and tedious. So, if anyone out there has written a book, even if it isn’t published yet, congrats because you are a superstar!
2) Can you tell our readers where they can find out more about you? What kinds of books can our readers expect to be looking for from you? Do you have a preferred genre to write in or do you like to write in multiple genres?
Yes! We are all over social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and here is a link to our blog, https://paytontaylorauthor.wixsite.com/website/blog We’re also on Wattpad and Inkitt under the name of Payton Taylor. Our preferred genre I would say is anything paranormal or fantasy. We love complex, diverse characters who have magical powers that have to either slay dragons or become their friend. We also love creepy, suspenseful ghost stories. Any kind of creative world building that helps you escape reality. We do sometimes venture out of the fantasy genre, though. Our first finished book, Crown of Sunlight, is fantasy at heart but with a bit of a sci-fi twist. It can be fun to blur and cross genre lines at times.
3) What made you want to become co-authors and do collaborative work? Do your writing styles mirror each other or are they different and balance each other out?
We are actually cousins. And we’ve always sorta been our own “book club” and I feel like it was an overnight thing where we just said, “We should write a book!” And I remember that night we poured wine into coffee mugs and made a toast to becoming authors whether it happened in one year or fifty. We would get there someday. We both have our own style of writing, but I think the more we write, the more alike it gets. We spend a lot of time together and now that we’re working on the second book of our four book series… it’s as if our minds have merged. We always joke that we can read each other’s minds now. I think we balance each other out in the way that we write and work social media. Sometimes Taylor works really hard for a few days doing both, then Payton will for a few days. We both want our writing and the story to be as good as possible, so whenever we have a new idea or conflicting ideas (which doesn’t happen very often) we talk it out and weigh all of the ways each idea will impact the story so we know that whichever idea we end up choosing is the one that will benefit the story and the character growth in the best possible way.
4) Do you have regular writing routine, a schedule for when you write? Do you like to prepare outlines and character sketches when preparing to write a book or do you prefer to just wing it and write as you go?
We both have busy lives with college, work, and kids so we prefer to write at night after things have settled down. We’ve settled into a schedule of Payton writing one night and Taylor writing the next, back and forth, with both of us talking and reading through what the other has written. When we start a book we come up with a very rough outline of the major plot points we want to happen and then we sort of just wing it from there. We’re both constantly coming up with new ideas, so to plan that all out in the beginning is next to impossible.
5) Do you have any projects that are currently in the works? What can you tell us, if anything, about what you have coming down the pipeline?
We’ve written our first book, Crown of Sunlight, and we’re currently having it edited. We’ve sent out a lot of query letters, but so far we haven’t been picked up yet. If we aren’t picked up by an agency, we’re planning to publish the first and second books in the series in August of this year. We’re almost done with the first draft of the second book now and we have a few other book series in the beginning stages. We’re really excited about all of them.
6) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
For me, hi Payton here, the first book that touched me was probably the first Nancy Drew book I read in middle school, which I think was The Secret of the Old Clock. It was amazing to read about a young woman, a teenager, who was taken seriously as a detective and who was considered smart and capable while also retaining her femininity. Until that point, I sort of thought that a girl had to be a tomboy or act less stereotypically “feminine” to be taken seriously. It taught me that girls can be smart and capable no matter how they dress or present themselves. I read the whole series that year. As for my favorite author, there are so many I adore. I read a lot of Leigh Bardugo, Tahereh Mafi, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan. And of course, I love J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books. And J.R.R. Tolkien. There are so many, it’s hard to keep track. Right now, I’m reading The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater, the last book in The Raven Cycle series. Her writing is so beautiful and aesthetic.
Taylor here, the first book that ever touched me emotionally was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read it in the seventh grade and it was the first book that I absolutely loved and what started my love of reading. I wasn’t the best student in school. I struggled a bit. But I remember my mom coming in to wake me one morning, surprised to find me already awake and reading. I don’t think I could name a favorite author or book. That’d be like picking a favorite child. We would be here all day if I started naming favorites. Right now, I’m currently reading The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Vortex Visions by Elise Kova. Yes I know, I have a problem.
7) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Probably the first good review we got that wasn’t a family member. We had a woman on Wattpad messaging us, telling us how much she loved our book and couldn’t wait for the second one. And to first-time authors putting their work out there, that really means so much and helps them to keep doing what they’re doing. I would hope to see ourselves thriving within five years. Still creating worlds and characters and loving them and pouring our hearts and souls into them. I hope that we can have the same effect on readers as some of our favorite authors have affected us. I hope we have the entire Crown of Sunlight series published by then.
8) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career so far? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in regards to traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
We have been querying off and on for the past year now, and yeah, rejection definitely sucks, but we try not to let it get us down. It makes us work that much harder. We keep telling ourselves that our book will not be for everyone and that sometimes we will get rejections and bad reviews. I think it’s great that writers have more options now. Querying and getting a publishing deal takes a lot of time and even if you have a near perfect book, they can sometimes get overlooked. I think it’s great that you can publish on your own terms now and get your work into readers hands quicker. It’s nice to know there are different options and success can be made with either.
9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I don’t think it’s ever too late to start writing and become successful with it. If anything, I believe age only gives you more experience and wisdom to draw on when telling stories. I don’t know everything about the writing industry, being a beginner myself, but I like to think that age doesn’t matter and that a story’s relevance and quality aren’t determined by age or time but by the writing itself. Writing is a skill that improves over time and practice, but I don’t think there’s a set age limit on hard work and dedication.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
One way we like to try and stay authentic in our writing is with diversity in our books. We think it’s important to have representation be it POC, LGBTQ+, or disability because we live in such a beautiful and diverse world that to have a story of only white people or straight or able/neurotypical people is simply inaccurate. Not only that, readers deserve to see themselves in characters and to see characters like them portrayed as strong and capable. Not perfect, because no one is perfect, but complex and dynamic. Reading has taught us so much about different people and cultures and we think writing is a way for us to keep that train of thought and learning going.