Name: Taylor Siluwé
Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ
Current Residence: I’m a Jersey boy to the core, born in Jersey City.
Current or most recent project:
Dancing With The Devil is my first collection of short stories. Five connected tales centered Danté and his dances with his own dark side. From When Romeo Wakes which finds an older Danté in an apocalyptic situation with his unconscious lover, his ‘Romeo’, explaining to him how he wound up chained in Danté’s basement. The four tales that follow – Breeding Season, Beneath Paradise, Pretty Young Gangsters and the eponymous Dancing with the Devil, are an extension of Dante’s soliloquy to Romeo and chronicle his life, his break from an oppressive religious ‘cult’, and some other taboo dalliances that you wouldn’t confess to a friend. Overall, the collection simply asks: How far would you go?
Earliest memory of being a writer:
High School. I wrote a play that got raves from my teacher. She pushed my down the writer path.
When were you first published? And under what circumstances?
Also High School, I won a state-wide essay contest. It was called A Strong Nation Needs Strong Schools, and it was published in the newspaper. But my first short story to see print was A Taste for Cherries in the erotic anthology Tough Guys (pub. – Black Books). That’s also where I got my rep as an erotic story writer. “… Cherries” was erotic, but it was more about the Machiavellian things people do to get what they want – sexually.
How do you identify and nurture ideas for new projects?
I don’t really have a process. An idea comes to me for a story, and I immediately start a Word doc with my thoughts, sometimes the first few paragraphs of the story. Over time, it either takes on a life of its own or it doesn’t. I can’t predict it. I’m usually surprised when a story takes off and ends up in unexpected places. But that’s what I love about writing, you never truly know what you’re writing until it’s finished.
Please describe 1-3 authors/writers/performers that have influenced your artistic style?
Stephen King was a favorite of mine as a teenager. He could write about the most wicked situations with humanity and humor. I love that, warm, cozy stories that still creep me out. I try to emulate that. Because although I’m intrigued by the dark side of life, its our humanity and ability to laugh at ourselves that get us through it. The list goes on to E. Lynn Harris, and James Earl Hardy – who taught me that black gay stories are myriad and awesome and all of them should be told. I have to add Larry Duplechan to the list, because it was his short story “Zazoo” (about another quirky little gay boy) that made me fall in love with the short story format. I loved that story. Short stories became my thing after that.
What 2 books and 2 CDs should everyone own?
I so hate questions like this. I always feel I should point to something profound and undiscovered; like people will think less of me if I didn’t say The Bible, or did say DMX. Everyone needs to decide for themselves what’s important in their lives. Too many of us already follow blindly like fat lemmings behind other people who sometimes don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
Do you believe LGBT authors have an obligation to the LGBT community? Why or why not?
“Obligation” carries a little too much weight for my taste. However, if you mean telling LGBT stories with truth and heart then I can agree with that. So, yes, we do have an obligation to chronicle lives of same gender oriented people, to fill that huge void in the entertainment world that we all grew up with – never seeing our own stories. So, yeah, we have a bit of an obligation to change the landscape of the arts for all the little gay boys and girls just coming into their own.
What is the biggest misconception about you and/or your work?
Oh god, that its erotica. It’s been described as such and it does have erotic themes, but its hardly erotica. The most titillating things for me are the build up, the wondering if they or will they, not the actual act. Blow by blow sex scenes bore me, and no one needs a how-to guide.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Just write, all the time. Tell stories that only you can tell.
What does your name mean?
My family name is Taylor. I dropped my first name because I never liked it. I chose Siluwé (suh-LOO-way): a Zambian name that means Leopard, cunning and strong. I connected with that because I’ve always been that loner leopard. Actually, one of my very first short stories was about a quirkly little gay boy who lives life mostly in his head – it was called Cheetah.