Taylor Gordon is a Georgia native who writes about ghosts of the South and the multi-generational impact of abuse and prejudice. She loves rain hikes, cooking big meals, and making a personal connection with any kind of animal. She received her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Georgia, where she studied fiction writing with Reginald McKnight.
What made you decide to pursue an MFA in creative writing? Why did you choose the program at UW?
My undergraduate adviser pointed me in the direction of an MFA program before I graduated. After six years in the world working with animals and doing occasional freelance writing and editing, I decided to pursue an MFA in search of a new path and new opportunities. Wyoming was an early front-runner as I decided where to apply, because it was a significant change from the Appalachian South where I was raised and because the program was fully funded and had a strong reputation.
Do you think living in Wyoming has changed your writing process, or your perspective on writing?
Wyoming is different than any place I’d been before, and coming here was a moment of significant transition and expansion in my life. I not only gained perspective on the place I’d come from, about which I wanted to write, but also on the world beyond that place and what my part in it might be.
What have you been working on lately? What is your thesis about?
My thesis is a collection of fabulist, feminist short fiction set primarily in the American South. The stories included there obsess over phenomena, liminal spaces, cycles of trauma and abuse, and the reasons why ghosts hang around. I am also in the early stages of a novel about the effects of small towns and full moons.
What do you think the major influences on your work have been? Any particular books, movies, albums, or experiences that have shaped you as a writer?
I love anything with a hint of magic woven through. My bookshelf is sagging beneath the great weight of Karen Russell, Kelly Link, Joy Williams, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Anna Kavan, Anais Nin, Marguerite Duras, Carmen Maria Machado, Haruki Murakami, Sandra Cisneros, Margaret Atwood, Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Sabrina Orah Mark, Carrie Fisher, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeanette Winterson, Don Delillo. I would say each of these writers and many others (J.K. Rowling, Laura Ingalls Wilder, R.L. Stein) shaped me as a writer because reading was always my first love. I also depend on the music of Modest Mouse and the movies of Christopher Guest.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write about the things that scare you, and be willing to be vulnerable. Neil Gaiman says that writing is like walking naked down the street–you have to be willing to share more of yourself than is necessarily comfortable. Also, writers write and writers read. Do both of these things regularly and you will be on your way.
Come see Taylor read at the second event in the 2019-2020 MFA Reading Series, a Halloween Party & Reading on Thursday, October 31 from 6-9 PM at the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.