(Photo: Janice Marriot, William Taylor, Antony Millen – Owhango Market August 2013)
I’ve been meaning to write a memorial post in tribute to this gentleman following his passing in October 2015. This installment of the Weekend Name Drop features a writer of international acclaim who mentored burgeoning writers in my local region as well as throughout New Zealand. Meet William Taylor.
Name: William (Bill) Taylor
Creative field: Novelist
Location: Formerly Raurimu, New Zealand
Best known for: Authoring classic New Zealand YA novels such as Agnes the Sheep, Possum Perkins, Spider and dozens more. In 2004, he was made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature and the community. Mentoring authors through NZSA and the Taumarunui Writers Group. He was also once a teacher and mayor of Ohakune.
My connection: I had heard of William Taylor for years as an acclaimed writer who often visited local schools. Curious, I read Agnes the Sheep. My English department at Taumarunui High School is filled with copies of his books. I finally met him at the Owhango Market where he bought a copy of my first book, Redeeming Brother Murrihy. Bill invited me over for a cup of tea and a chat after reading it and was very encouraging. A year later, I was pleased to gift him a copy of my second novel, Te Kauhanga and he kindly reciprocated with a signed copy of his last novel, Land of Milk and Honey.
Inspiration for this writer: When I met with Bill, he was highly complimentary of Redeeming Brother Murrihy. That year, he had acted as judge for the Ashton Wylie Book Awards. He told me that, had Murrihy been entered in that competition, he would have short-listed it and it may well have won. He made me promise to enter it the following year. I didn’t win, but his words carried me as I wrote Te Kauhanga.
Why you should check him out and share with others: In his time, many of William Taylor’s books pushed boundaries which may seem less controversial today. From what I have read of his work (Agnes the Sheep, Land of Milk and Honey, Telling Tales: A Life of Writing) and from what I know of the man, his stories still stand up for their humour, humanity and intelligent construction.
Sample of work:
Mrs Pearson started again. ‘Let’s put an end to this school nonsense. You’re here as a worker, boy, nothing more and nothing less, even though our Darcy tells me you didn’t bring suitable work clothes. I’m willing to concede the authorities might not have told you, what with things as they are in the mother country …’
‘They told me I’d be going to school in New Zealand,’ said Jake. ‘That’s what they told my Dad and that’s what they told me.’
At which point Mr Pearson stood, scratched his belly and looked down on Jake, then lifted his hand and swiped him across the head. ‘You’ll learn one lesson quick, lad, and that’s don’t answer the wife back. get that into your thick skull. Understand?’
Darcy Pearson giggled happily. ‘Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll be helping him understand. Hell’s bells, I’m looking forward to the responsibility.’ He grinned at Jake, this time with menace in his smile.
Here’s William himself in a light-hearted interview at the 2010 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.
The is a new weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.