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Taylor, G(raham) P(eter) 1959(?)-

TAYLOR, G(raham) P(eter) 1959(?)-

Personal

Born c. 1959, in Scarborough, England; son of a cobbler; married; children: Hannah, Abigail, one other daughter.

Addresses

Home Cloughton, Yorkshire, England. Agent c/o Author Mail, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

Career

Novelist and cleric. CBS Records, London, England, band promoter, c.1970; worked as an elder-care aide, mid-1970s; policeman, c. 1988-95; entered Anglican priesthood, parish priest of Whitby, now Vicar of St. Mary's Church, Cloughton, Yorkshire, England.

Writings

Shadowmancer (self-published, 2002), Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Wormwood, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Adaptations

Shadowmancer has been optioned for film, and has been adapted as an audiobook by Listening Library, 2004.

Work in Progress

A third novel in the trilogy.

Sidelights

At the age of forty-two, English vicar G. P. Taylor decided that if he wanted to realize his dream of being an author, it was now or never. Drawing on his surroundingsthe vicarage of Cloughton, in Yorkshire, Englandas well as his former vocations, which included work as a policeman, social worker, and rock-band promoter, he produced the novel Shadowmancer. Working from his kitchen table, Taylor self-published and distributed his novel beginning in 2002; after receiving a copy from one of Taylor's parishioners and noting the popularity of the book, London publisher Faber & Faber reissued it nationwide a year later. By 2004 the bestselling Shadowmancer had made its way across the Atlantic to American readers, while its author had become something of a celebrity in his native England.

Set in the history-filled lands along England's northeast coast, Shadowmancer draws readers back to the 1700s. Power-hungry Obadiah Demurral, vicar of the remote parish of Thorpe, begins to secretly explore the black arts, having long since lost his faith and concern over his soul in his lust for godlike power. Demurral's efforts are aided by a powerful gold artifact called the Keruvim, which he acquired from thieves who stole it from an African temple to the gods. Together with its mate, the magic artifact will allow him to gain control over all things. When African traveler Raphah traces the Keruvim to Demurral's parish, he hopes to reacquire it for the temple. Instead, he finds himself engaged in a battle with the ruthless Demurral, as well as with dead spirits capable of such awful things as cursing humans with perpetual nightmares. Aided by two children, Kate Cogland and the homeless Thomas Barrick, Raphah fights the greedy vicar, who has no qualms about robbery and murder in attempting to gain absolute power over nature.

Reviewing Shadowmancer for Library Journal, Tamara Butler described the novel as "steeped in English folklore" and added that while the book is geared for teen readers, "it is complex enough to hold the interest of adults." While finding the story, with its religious parables, "a dark and weighty morality tale," a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that Shadowmancer contains "enough surprises to keep readers madly turning the pages." In 2004 Taylor continued what he intended as a novel trilogy, producing Wormwood, a sequel to Shadowmancer. The year is now 1756, and Dr. Sabian Blake and his young housemaid, Agetta, are as fearful as their London neighbors about news that a giant comet threatens to demolish their city. Blake has more on his mind, however: the coming of the comet, Wormwood, had been foretold to him in a mysterious book, the Nemorensis, which recently and mysteriously came into his possession. While Blake at first used the book to further his own explorations into the supernatural, it quickly becomes clear that the Nemorensis is desired by an evil force, the fallen angel Hezrin, who hopes to be made mortal by the comet's power. When Agetta becomes an unwitting pawn of Hezrin and steals the book, humans and immortals line up along traditional battle lines separating good from evil, while London society falls upon itself in its panic.

In School Library Journal Carolyn Lehman noted Taylor's inclusion of "exquisitely detailed scenes of violence and mayhem," all of which make Wormwood "unremittingly dark" While a Kirkus Reviews critic also found the novel "relentlessly horrific," in Kliatt Michele Winship praised Taylor's prose as "sensuous and spell-binding," and added that Wormwood will transport "readers into a place where angels battle over human souls and immortality." In Publishers Weekly a reviewer noted that the author is "even more explicit about his allegory's tether to Christianity" in his second novel, with its battle between fallen and true angels, and added that Wormwood "brings some cohesion and depth" to Taylor's fantasy trilogy.

Although Taylor's books have benefited from the rise in popularity of fantasy novels in the wake of J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels, it gained a large following without much of the hype that publishers normally provide to first-time authors. As Taylor noted on an online interview for the British Broadcasting Corporation Web site, Shadowmancer "has been spoken about by kids and it's been a success through word of mouth." Interestingly, the one thing that may give potential readers qualms is the fact that the book's author is a devout Christian. "Everybody thinks the book is a Christian book, so I have to explain it is not," Taylor added. "Just because I'm a vicar does not mean I have to write a Christian book. It has hindered me in a way, because some of the reviewers look for things which are not there. The guy who wrote 'Thomas the Tank Engine' was a vicar."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Shadowmancer, p. 1451; September 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Wormwood, p. 109.

Christianity Today, June, 2004, Greg Taylor, "A Christian Harry Potter?," p. 63.

Entertainment Weekly, May 28, 2004, Troy Patterson, "Has G. P. Taylor Written the Next Harry Potter?," p. 78.

Horn Book, July-August, 2004, Anita L. Burkham, review of Shadowmancer, p. 461.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of Shadowmancer, p. 230; September 1, 2004, review of Wormwood, p. 874.

Kliatt, March, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Shadowmancer, p. 16; September, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Wormwood, p. 16.

Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Tamara Butler, review of Shadowmancer, p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, April 5, 2004, review of Shadowmancer, p. 63; April 19, 2004, James Bickers, "The Vicar and the Bestseller," p. 25; August 16, 2004, review of Wormwood, p. 64.

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Jane P. Fenn, review of Shadowmancer, p. 86, and Carolyn Lehman, review of Wormwood, p. 180.

ONLINE

British Broadcasting Corporation Web site, http://www.bbb.co.uk/blast/ (December 3, 2004), transcript of interview with Taylor.*

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