The Bookstore Window Story
Here's a fun story that starts what feels like several lifetimes hence, when I was still married and my children were still small:
At the time, at home with the kids (it made no economical sense to enter the workforce when daycare for two babies would be more than any paycheck I would bring in) I worked odd jobs from home to help supplement the income, and we lived very frugally in a two-bedroom apartment, drove used cars, skipped on things like cable, eating out and such, but on one modest income we struggled to pay even the bills we did have.
That was what life looked like when I first began THE INFORMATIONIST.
I read voraciously back then--always garage sale books--but it took awhile before I started reading fiction. The first year after arriving in the United States, most of my reading was self-help or business related--just trying to get a grasp on this thing called "real life." When I couldn't take any more of that, I turned to fiction, which is when I discovered Robert Ludlum, and everyone has already heard that story so I'll skip it here and get to the one that hasn't been told yet.
At the time, life being what it was, it was difficult, very difficult, to mentally project time forward to the point where I could see anything beyond the meager life we lived, beyond the struggle to get on our feet. In every way, life was an enormous challenge, and sometimes it felt as if that challenge swallowed me and became a symbol of what forever would be.
But I did understand from all the self-help stuff I'd pumped myself full of in the year prior, that never mind the circumstances that had brought me to this place--circumstances over which I'd had no control--from this point forward, I myself might possibly the biggest thing standing in the way of any success in life: my own limiting beliefs, my own acceptance of what normal could be, my own willingness to settle for a little bit, because it was so much more than I'd ever had before.
I don't remember exactly when this story took place, but I remember that I was at least far enough into THE INFORMATIONIST that it was more than an idea--had maybe written the first 30,000 words or so--but that's a guesstimate. Not far from where we lived, there was a bookstore that stood beside the grocery store where we sometimes shopped. For whatever reason, that day all of us were out and about running errands together and we parked in front of the bookstore in order to walk to the grocery store.
In a very spur-of-the-moment decision, while the others went on ahead, I paused for a second in front of the bookstore window. I wanted to see if it was possible to take myself out of the moment, out of my limited idea of what was possible, and visualize what it might be like to actually have my name on a book somewhere--to see the impossible, if you will, as a way to dampen my own lack of vision and change my perspectives on what could actually be.
I have no idea what book I looked at, no recollection of the title, or which author's name graced the cover. All I remember was standing in front of the glass, while in my head--my minds eye--I took away the author's name on the book closest to me, and put mine on the cover instead. The emotional reaction, the mental reaction was instant and overpowering. For one second, I visualized and dreamed, and in that same second the disbelief, the mental dissonance, combined with the sudden revelation of what life might be like if this vision were true, became such a rushing torrent of uncontrollable emotion that I burst into tears.
I could not at the time, in any way shape or form imagine how such a thing could come to be, did not even know the steps I would have to take in order to make it happen, but I saw it there, on the other side of that glass window those many years ago, and I dared to dream, and worked daily toward that dream.
So with that little story, and this lovely attached image which features THE INFORMATIONIST as seen through a bookstore window, I leave you now to head off to ThrillerFest as an attending author, because today, that momentary vision those many years ago, is a reality. Wish me luck :)
And PS: Yes, I know. I still can't punctuate.
Taylor Stevens is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling novelist who—by odds and expectations—should never have become either successful or published. Like many aspiring authors Stevens had no credentials or platform, and no direct route into the publishing world. But, unlike most, she was also limited by a life of cultural isolation and a sixth-grade education.
Born into an apocalyptic cult and raised in communes across the globe, Stevens grew up as a child laborer, cooking and cleaning for up to a hundred at a time, caring for younger commune children, or out on the streets begging on behalf of commune leaders. Books, movies, music, and pop-culture from the outside world were strictly forbidden, and she finally gained unlimited access to fiction after returning to the United States in her early thirties. Her books have since been published in over twenty languages, with The Informationist optioned for film by James Cameron’s production company, Lightstorm Entertainment.