Taylor, Janelle 1944- (Janelle Diane Williams Taylor)
Taylor, Janelle 1944- (Janelle Diane Williams Taylor)
Born June 28, 1944, in Athens, GA; daughter of Alton L. Williams (a mechanic) and Frances (a homemaker) Edwards; married Michael Howard Taylor (a business manager and accountant), April 8, 1965; children: Angela Michelle, Alisha Melanie. Education: Attended Medical College of Georgia, 1977-79, and Augusta College, 1980-81. Politics: Republican. Religion: Baptist. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting dolls, music boxes, model ships, "sea treasures," souvenir spoons, old books, and book cover art; reading; music; movies (especially old westerns and science fiction films); Indian, American, and English history; sports (football, tennis, fishing, horseback and motorcycle riding, and target practice); chess; exploring the land around her home; working outdoors; traveling around the United States.
Home—Martinez, GA. Office—Janelle Taylor Enterprises, Inc., P.O. Box 211646, Martinez, GA 30917-1646. Agent—Acton, Oystel, Leone, Jaffe, Inc., 79 5th Ave., 11th floor, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]
Worked as orthodontic nurse in Athens, GA, and Augusta, GA, 1962-72; Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, medical research assistant, 1975-77. Writer, 1977—. Owner of Janelle Taylor Enterprises, Inc., Augusta, GA. Teacher and lecturer on romance literature and creative writing at conferences and schools, including Augusta College, 1982—; guest on television and radio programs.
Romance Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Authors Guild, Novelists Inc., Southeastern Writers, Cowboy Hall of Fame, Georgia Romance Writers, Georgia Writers Coalition for Literacy, Augusta Authors Guild.
Honored at Sioux National Celebration in South Dakota, 1983, for first five books of "Ecstasy Saga" series; Maggie award for best historical romance, Georgia Romance Writers, 1984, for First Love, Wild Love; Reviewers Choice award, Romantic Times, 1984, for Golden Torment; Indian Series award, Romantic Times, 1985, for first five books of "Ecstasy Saga" series; Golden Pen award, Affaire de Coeur, 1986, for Sweet, Savage Heart; certificate of merit, American University Women, 1986; Bronze Pen award, 1988; Silver Pen award, 1989; reviewer's choice certificate of excellence for Victorian romance, Romantic Times, 1992, for Promise Me Forever; career achievement certificate of excellence for historical fantasy, Romantic Times, 1992.
"ECSTASY SAGA" SIOUX HISTORICAL ROMANCE SERIES
Savage Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1981, reprinted, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Defiant Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Forbidden Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Brazen Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Tender Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Stolen Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Bittersweet Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Forever Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1991.
"LAKOTA SKIES" HISTORICAL ROMANCE SERIES
Lakota Winds, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Lakota Dawn, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Lakota Flower, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Love Me with Fury, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1983.
First Love, Wild Love, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Golden Torment, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Savage Conquest, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Sweet Savage Heart, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Destiny's Temptress, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Wild Is My Love, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
Kiss of the Night Wind, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Follow the Wind, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Whispered Kisses, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Promise Me Forever, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Fortune's Flames, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Passions Wild and Free, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Midnight Secrets, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Destiny Mine, Kensington (New York, NY), 1994.
Chase the Wind, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Anything for Love, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Defiant Hearts, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Three Complete Western Love Stories (contains First Love, Wild Love, Sweet Savage Heart, and Midnight Secrets), Wings Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Wild Winds, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Love With a Stranger, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Valley of Fire, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1984.
Taking Chances, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Someday Soon, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Can't Stop Loving You, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2001.
In Too Deep, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Night Moves, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Don't Go Home, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Dying to Marry, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2004.
Watching Amanda, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
Haunting Olivia, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2006.
SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE
Moondust and Madness, Bantam (New York, NY), 1986.
Stardust and Shadows, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Starlight and Splendor, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Wild, Sweet Promise, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Janelle Taylor Three Novel Collection, Wings Books (New York, NY), 1993.
A New Collection of Three Complete Novels (contains Bittersweet Ecstasy, Forever Ecstasy, and Savage Conquest), Wings Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Contributor to books, including How to Write a Romance and Get It Published: With Intimate Advice from the World's Most Popular Romantic Writers, edited by Kathryn Falk, Crown (New York, NY), 1983; Candlelight, Romance, and You, edited by R. Buhrer, P. Moore, and R. Jones, Cookbook Publishers, 1983; My First Real Romance: Twenty Bestselling Romance Novelists Reveal the Stories of Their Own First Real Romances, edited by Jerry Biederman and Tom Siberkleit, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1985; and Christmas Rendezvous, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1991. Author of short stories and poems; author of newsletter for Janelle Taylor Enterprises, Inc. Contributor of articles and stories to magazines, including Romantic Times and Love Line.
The "Janelle Taylor Collection" of books, manuscripts, and promotional materials is archived at the University of Georgia Libraries.
A prolific, best-selling romance novelist, Janelle Taylor is perhaps best known for her historical romance books. Notable among these are the titles in the author's "Ecstasy Saga" series, which features the ongoing love story between a Sioux warrior and a pioneer woman of English ancestry. The series commences in the northwest territory of the United States during the late 1700s, and the first four novels concentrate on the problems the couple faces as a result of their mixed marriage. Later volumes of the series involve their descendants in romantic adventures of their own. Presented against the backdrop of historical events like Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn, the Sioux series explores what Taylor termed in an interview for Romantic Times "an in depth look into the life, heart, and mind of the American Indian."
Taylor attributes her interest in Native American culture to her childhood pursuits. She once told CA: "I think it started off with growing up as a tomboy, with two brothers. We played a lot of cowboys and Indians, and that kind of thing. I read a lot of what used to be called boys' books: [Anna Sewell's] Black Beauty, Jack London books like Call of the Wild and White Fang. I did male things; my brothers taught me to fish and track and hunt and shoot…. And I've watched a lot of westerns and read a lot of western novels—like Louis L'Amour's books."
Taylor reported in Romantic Times that she unearthed a number of "inconsistencies and unknown facts" while researching native North American history for her novels. "It was amazing to me to learn how many customs were attributed to [American Indians] which were actually begun by the white man," Taylor recalls. Focusing on the Sioux tribes in particular, Taylor wants to reveal the native North Americans' struggle to survive and protect their lands against non-native settlers and U.S. Army onslaughts. In addition, she portrays the native North American as victorious, since—as she pointed out in Romantic Times—"most westerns have the white man as the victor." Taylor further explained to the magazine that native North Americans have been "misunderstood and maligned, and I wanted to reveal their culture and emotions."
It seems Taylor has touched many readers with the "Ecstasy Saga" series. As the author told CA: "I get a great deal of mail from Indians of all tribes telling me how much the series has done for them individually and as a nation…. A lot of people write in and say, ‘I've always been embarrassed to tell anyone I was an Indian until I read your series.’" Taylor also said her books have inspired many white readers who "have written to the Indians to get more information on Indian culture and religion and things like that. They've said that it's because of reading my books that they've seen things in a different light and developed this interest."
Commenting on the historical aspects of her novels, Taylor stated in Romantic Times that she "combined turbulent history with passionate romance," adding: "I tried to intermingle reality with fantasy." Similarly, Taylor incorporates authentic Sioux language into the dialogue of her stories, enhancing what she termed in Romantic Times the "reality, accuracy, and uniqueness" distinguishing her writing. Overall, according to Taylor's synopsis of the "Ecstasy Saga" series, her books provide a balanced account of both the white man's and native North American's motivations while documenting history through a believable love story. In recognition of the realistic depiction of native North Americans and their history and culture presented in her historical romance novels, Taylor was honored at the Sioux National Celebration in Sisseton, South Dakota, in 1983. Two years later she won the Indian Series award given by Romantic Times.
Taylor's literary career began after she saw a television show featuring Kathleen Woodiwiss, a popular historical romance writer. Taylor was inspired by Woodiwiss's observation that many people could be writers if they took time to put on paper the stories that run through their minds. Taylor, who had recently quit her job as a medical research assistant, followed her advice. Reflecting on this decision, she explained to CA: "I doubt I could have become a writer before reaching thirty-four, because I hadn't grown enough emotionally or experienced enough of life. When I did begin it was like a dam breaking, and all my pent-up creativity came pouring out very rapidly and intensely. Now I doubt I can ever stop writing—and you have to love writing to do it because it's a lot of work." Taylor wrote her first two manuscripts longhand and says of the experience, "when I had to type my first manuscript and then they told me it still was not in the proper form, my career almost ended then and there. It took me about three-and-one-half months to retype." When business details become overwhelming, Taylor's husband, Michael, steps in to help: "He takes care of all the mail, the government papers, and the tax forms. And he sets up the trips with my publishers, sends most of my public relations stuff out, and takes care of our children and the house. It really helps a lot. I couldn't get as much done as I need to do if I didn't have him to help me."
Being a popular writer has made Taylor a mentor for some of her readers who write asking her either to critique their work or for advice on personal matters. "Mainly people write during hard periods of their life," Taylor told CA, "like after the death of a spouse or the death of a child…. People talk about times being so hard now, and that seems to distract them from their present everyday problems." To satisfy her readers, Taylor publishes a newsletter that answers frequently asked questions and updates fans on new novels and characters. "We started the newsletter because so much of the mail that came in would ask basically the same questions: What else have you written? What's it about? When did it come out? What's coming out next? Every time we do a newsletter, we pull about the last ten questions that are asked most frequently by readers. It's so time-consuming to answer mail. Most days, I would say, I get between 150 and 200 letters. It's just impossible to answer those, but you want to. The best way I've found to deal with it is to do a newsletter. It has gone over extremely well."
Taylor aspires to have her books and other romance novels become a respected literary genre and claims that many readers are missing out on worthwhile fiction due to the genre's pigeonholing. In addition, she extols the camaraderie of romance novelists, pointing out to CA that "romance writers seem to be one of the most helpful groups of people; they're constantly helping their competition…. That's one big thing I've noticed that romance writers have in common, that sense of wanting to help other people." To that end, Taylor teaches writing courses at Augusta College in Georgia and participates in at least four writers' conferences a year around the country. "Most people think writing is very easy, and they think about instant fame and fortune. It's very rare, you know, that a first book will be a national best-seller. People don't realize that you've got to pay your dues, to put in years of hard work to get your name known so that you can become a big writer."
While Taylor's courses don't attract many male students, she does notice that a sizeable portion of her readership is male. "When I was doing my signing at the American Booksellers Association Convention, I signed probably fifty percent for men," Taylor told CA. "And a lot of the mail I get is from men. Usually a letter from a man saying, ‘My wife (or my girlfriend) said I should read this.’ Then they'll ask what else I've done, because they like my style. Because we've been using a romance cover and the books have been in the romance section of the stores, people sometimes don't realize that they're getting about the same thing that they'd get in the mystery and western and other departments. Once they get past the romance image, they realize that they've got a good action-packed book."
Taylor senses a shift away from the more sexually explicit romance novels of recent years. She believes that women want the option of reading "the same thing the man had—books and magazines with different degrees of sensuality," she told CA, but once this interest is fulfilled, women find they prefer stories with an "emphasis on the romance and the relationship between the characters rather than the heavy degree of sensuality." Taylor said this works out well for her, since "one of the things my publisher usually tells me when I turn a book in is that I don't have enough sensuality. My revisions will usually involve adding more…. To me, the story is what's important. You don't want the sensuality to overshadow the story."
Giving range to her talents beyond the "Ecstasy Saga" collection, Taylor has written many other historical romances. These include the award-winning national best-sellers First Love, Wild Love and Savage Conquest, which is set in the post-Civil War American South. She also wrote Love Me with Fury, an adventure set during the War of 1812; Golden Torment, which takes place in the frozen landscape of the Yukon Territory at the time of the gold rush; Chase the Wind, set in the 1880s southwest as a pair of government agents find romance as they search for a gun runner; and the "Lakota Skies" series dealing with members of the Lakota Sioux tribe.
Taylor has written novels in other romance subgenres, including an innovative science fiction series and a number of contemporary titles. The science fiction series includes the novels Moondust and Madness, Stardust and Shadows, and Starlight and Splendor. Valley of Fire is a contemporary romance, as is Taking Chances, set in New Mexico and featuring the love between a lonely woman suffering from diabetes (with which Taylor has been diagnosed) and a rural doctor. Mystery elements figure in Can't Stop Loving You, about a woman seek- ing the daughter she gave up for adoption fifteen years earlier, and In Too Deep, concerning a fiercely independent single mother with an extortion-minded ex-husband; Booklist reviewer Shelley Mosley termed the latter a "suspenseful, pulse-racing read."
In Night Moves, a woman is charged with protecting her best friend's four-year-old son, a challenging task that becomes dangerous after the boy's parents are murdered. Booklist reviewer Mosley described the novel as a "spine-tingling tale of suspense." Although a Publishers Weekly critic was not convinced by the story's elements of suspense, the reviewer noted that "well-drawn characters and a richly developed romantic subplot more than make up for the loss." The disappearance of a murder suspect is the focus of Don't Go Home; joining the suspect's twin sister in the search is the brother of a murdered victim. Mosley commented in another Booklist review that Taylor has "once again crafted a fresh, twisty, and surprising plot." Dying to Marry takes place in the weeks before a controversial wedding, as the maid-of-honor and the local detective work together to solve a related murder. Watching Amanda kicks off a trilogy of novels connected by the inheritances given three half sisters. In the second book in the series, Haunting Olivia, the protagonist faces ghosts from her past—including a lost love and a daughter she thought was stillborn—when she moves into a summer cottage left to her by her wealthy father. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly described the novel as "a compelling suspense story with vivid characters, plenty of heartfelt human drama and winning romance."
Taylor outlined for CA her progress as a writer: "I have matured both as a person and a woman by developing this previously unused talent. Through the extensive research for my books … I have discovered good qualities in other people—generosity, kindness, warmth, helpfulness, and understanding. I learned it is never too late to do anything a person wants badly enough. The only drawback to serious, full-time writing and its other requirements—such as publicity and deadlines—is the weighty demand it places upon your energy and time. But would I give up any of it? Never!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Falk, Kathryn, editor, How to Write a Romance and Get It Published: With Intimate Advice from the World's Most Popular Romantic Writers, illustrations by Ignatius Sahula, Crown Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1990.
Booklist, September 15, 2001, Shelley Mosley, review of In Too Deep, p. 209; June 1, 2002, Shelley Mosley, review of Night Moves, p. 1695; December 1, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of Don't Go Home, p. 654.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2001, review of Can't Stop Loving You, p. 55; June 3, 2002, review of Night Moves, p. 71; August 28, 2006, review of Haunting Olivia, p. 37.
Romantic Times, December, 1983, author interview.
Janelle Taylor Home Page,http://www.janelletaylor.com (July 10, 2007).