Happy Memorial Day, Reader Friends!
Today we have the lovely Taylor Bennett visiting with us. Taylor has allowed me to interview her and talk about her debut release, Porch Swing Girl. Isn’t the cover great?
Let’s get started!
About the Book
The Blurb: “What if friendship cost you everything?
Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.
With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.
But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.”
Toni: Welcome, Taylor! Thank you for joining me to talk about your debut release. Why did you choose Hawaii for a setting?
Taylor: Thank YOU, Toni, for having me! I chose Hawaii for a setting because it is one of my favorite places on earth. My aunt’s boss (who is practically a member of the family) owns a gorgeous condo on the west side of Maui and I fell in love after staying there for the first time, when I was twelve. As I began to brainstorm ideas for Porch Swing Girl, I was struck by the need for an unusual, whimsical setting—and, thanks to my love for the islands—I instantly chose Hawaii. Plus, I knew a “research trip” might be in order… 😉
Toni: Yay for a research trip! I love that this is a YA read. What made you choose to write in that genre category?
Taylor: I chose to write YA books because, as a teenager myself, I was getting frustrated by the lack of clean and engaging contemporary YA fiction. I’ve always been on the practical side—fantasy/sci-fi/speculative genres don’t hold much appeal for me. Contemporary YA in the secular market often contains material that makes me uncomfortable. When I realized that there wasn’t a book out there that could quench my unique literary tastes, I decided to write it.
Toni: So glad you took that path. Tell us a little about Olive. What would be her life verse?
Taylor: Olive is a bright, artistic teenager with a big heart and an even bigger attitude. She often finds herself in situations where she’s one word away from sticking her foot in her mouth. Beneath her slightly cynical outlook, though, lies a heart of gold and a desire to help those closest to her.
When Porch Swing Girl begins, Olive has given up on God because of the recent events surrounding the death of her mother. By the end of the book, though, her relationship with God has been restored. Olive’s life verse would definitely be Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” It’s a verse she definitely doesn’t understand at the start of the book, but it really helps her as the story progresses.
Toni: I love that verse! Brander is the worship leader. What would he pick as his favorite worship song? Would yours be the same? Why or why not?
Taylor: Brander’s favorite worship song is “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham. It’s filled with exuberance and optimism, and it focuses on the amazing freedom we have because of Christ’s resurrection.
And yes…it’s one of my favorites, also! I actually listened to it a lot when I visited Hawaii on that “research trip” and singing it now reminds me not only of Jesus’s incredible sacrifice, but also the beauty that God created for His people.
Toni: Love! Would you choose the beach or mountains?
Taylor: Ooh…tough! I love the mountains—I live near some beautiful ones in my home state of Oregon—but I’d have to pick the beach. Something about the crashing waves and striking sunsets speaks to my heart.
Toni: Agreed. Coffee or tea?
Taylor: Tea! Always tea—and it has to be decaf…otherwise I’d start bouncing off the walls. I do love a good cup of chamomile with honey, though, and I have a ridiculous collection of writerly mugs.
Toni: I don’t think anyone could have enough writerly mugs. 🙂 Sunsets or sunrises?
Taylor: Sunsets! Something about the end of another day, the twilight drawing near, is tender and comforting. As the darkness surrounds me and the last rays of light fade from the sky, I feel as though God Himself is wrapping me in His arms and holding me as I stare up at the dusky evening sky.
Toni: That’s such a beautiful image! Book or movies?
Taylor: Definitely books! Honestly, movies usually bore me to tears. I have such a vivid imagination that, to me, watching a movie takes away half the fun. When I’m reading, I like to visualize every detail, so that the BOOK becomes a sort of “movie” in my mind. Movies often cast the “wrong” people (in my very humble opinion) or move too slowly for my taste.
Toni: I can understand that. Last but not least, what can readers do to support you on your writing journey?
Taylor: They can connect with me! I love nothing more than hearing from someone whom my work has touched. If my words impact someone’s life, I absolutely love to hear about it. I have an active blog, and I absolutely love hanging out on Instagram, too. I’m also on Twitter, but I’m so chatty that tweeting can be difficult for me 😉
Another thing readers can do to support my journey is LEAVE REVIEWS. Good or bad, short or long, reviews are sooo important to authors—the more reviews a book has, the more likely it is to get chosen for ad campaigns and the like. So, even if you don’t love my book, go ahead—hop over and leave a review anyway! I’ll appreciate it more than you know.
Thank you so much for having me on here, Toni! I had so much fun.
Toni: I’m so glad you stopped by, Taylor. Readers, do you have any questions for her?
About the Author
Homeschooled since kindergarten, Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of Porch Swing Girl, which will be released by Mountain Brook Ink on May 1st. When she’s not reading or writing, Taylor can be found playing her violin or taking walks in the beautiful Oregon countryside. She loves to connect with readers via her author website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (her favorite!), Pinterest, and Goodreads.