Taylor Stevens is the New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist. The first novel featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe, it received critical acclaim and has been published in seventeen other countries. Raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Stevens broke free of the Children of God and now lives in Texas. She is at work on a third Munroe novel.
RH Library: What is your first memory of being in a library?
Taylor Stevens: I was born and raised within the Children of God, an apocalyptic religious cult spun out of the 60’s, and the cult, in addition to viewing education past 6th grade as a waste of time, didn’t allow access to books from the outside. I was fortunate, because unlike many of my cohorts, I was able to sporadically attend public school between grades one and six. We moved a lot, I attended maybe as many as dozen schools in that time frame, but the one constant between them was the school library which I would access every opportunity I could.
RH Library: Why are libraries important?
Taylor Stevens: Even now I am incredibly under-read, but prior to THE INFORMATIONIST being published, hadn’t even read an online book review. I didn’t know that there was a world out there where people were connoisseurs of the written word, people who lived and breathed books, who understood books in the same way that a finance major understands spreadsheets. And I really had no idea whatsoever that a large portion of these people were librarians.
I find that it is not just for the sense of community or the free and open access to books that libraries are important, but because librarians truly know and understand books—know quality when they find it. That sounds like such a statement of the obvious, but I think many people don’t realize that librarians are able to provide for their patrons a similar curating experience to what independent book sellers provide for their customers. As an author I’m exceptionally grateful for the support that I’ve received from librarians who’ve appreciated my work and have introduced many readers to Vanessa Michael Munroe who would have otherwise never found her.
RH Library: What would you like librarians to know about your new book?
Taylor Stevens: That it’s really good. Ha-ha. In seriousness, THE INNOCENT, which is the second in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series is probably as close as I’ll ever get to writing an autobiography. Without a doubt THE INNOCENT is fiction, but just as THE INFORMATIONIST used the thriller format and the character of Munroe to take the reader through central Africa, so in THE INNOCENT she leads us behind the walls, into a religious cult (which mirrors The Children of God in which I was raised), skirting the gray areas of the law in order to infiltrate and kidnap back a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped eight years prior.
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