Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Liza interview Kyle Taylor author of Wildflower

Today, I have the very interesting Kyle Taylor over for an interview and to tell us about his latest book, Wildflower.

Peep Rep: Before you begin the interview, are there any prizes?

Liza: Kyle will gift a $25 Gift Card from Amazon to the person who writes the most interesting question in their comments. He'll also be giving away surprise books throughout his tour.

Peep Rep: Oh, I'm good at asking questions. Here's one: Why do otherwise sane people agree to interviews by Liza?

Liza: Well for your information, I intend to behave today.

Peep Rep: Why?

Liza: Because Kyle turns out to be very interesting on his own, and there is no way I would ever release Fox-like news upon him. 

Peep Rep: But why not. You release the fox from hell upon your author friends.

Liza: Well that's what they get for befriending me. This will be the first time Kyle and I meet.  Now go away, because the interview needs to begin.
Welcome to my blog, Kyle. Let's get right to the interview. What's your favorite part of writing?  

Kyle: I enjoy the actual writing process.  When I have set in my mind the setting, and the characters involved and what must be accomplished in the scene, I just love letting the characters inhabit my imagination.  If you have just enough structure, the characters come to life in your mind but you have to be careful. Margaret Mitchell worried that you have to marshal and guide them or else they can take over and change your plot. 

Liza: Hold on, you are taking character control lessons from Margaret Mitchell?  The woman who wrote a never ending book, letting her 'heroine' marry countless times, dress up in curtains, and allows the story to end in a shocking down note when Brett says his infamous last words?  So I'm concluding your characters do whatever they want and God help us all. 

Now, is there anything you don’t like about being a writer? (Other than interviews with annoying Liza?)

Kyle: I am the worst—the absolute worst—editor of my material.  I’m dyslexic and I have a terrible time spotting simple errors.  It looks great in my mind, though! 

Liza: I've the same problem with editing and no excuse for it, other than my fingers think they are secret agents and type in code.

So, what part of your book was the hardest to write?

Kyle: Not to be a spoiler, but death is a major theme in the book.  I didn’t expect how strongly the theme would resonate.  Barbette lead me there. He had to face death every night in his act. When he contracted polio, he told his doctor he wanted to die. Maybe it’s personal foreshadowing? Who knows, maybe I’ll have a heart attack at the end of this interview. You could say your questions brought it on.

Liza: Oh, no! I'm not taking the blame for killing you. Your characters...the ones you leave standing... will come after me. 
Speaking of out of control characters, has a secondary character ever threatened to take over your book? 

Kyle: The surrealist writer and artist Jean Cocteau came close!  Like many geniuses, he was absolutely insatiable. He had to devour Barbette.  He had this drive to experience and consume—lovers, drugs, art—you name it.  So I had to temper Cocteau. His manic energy contrasts with Barbette’s consistency. Barbette had to work constantly to refine his act and stay in top physical condition. Cocteau seemed to do best when he lived right on the edge of total collapse.   

Liza: Just so you know, I never condone cannabalism, so tell Cacteau to behave himself. Now describe the hero/heroine in 5 words:

Kyle: Glamorous. Perfectionist. Genius. Survivor. Lost.

Liza: Who's your favorite character in the book & why?

Kyle: Princess Violette Murat. She’s a real person. I adored her!  Her lineage was from the Bonaparte’s. She was a wealthy, hefty lesbian.  She was completely decadent and flaunted her empiric lineage. As preposterous as she was, I believe she had a wonderful heart.  The joke among the surrealist artists of the time was that Violette was more of a truffle than a violet. If Barbette had a fag hag, in my mind, Violette was it.

Liza: I went searching for pictures, but couldn't find any for Violette. However, I checked out a lot of Princess Bonapartes pics and they all look like strong independent women. The Napolean genes....no doubt.

Liza: What's your favorite line in the story?

Kyle: “More fun than a sexy party!” It’s the slogan for my book. It was an actual line from Barbette. I love it because it shows his sassy dry sarcasm.  Those who worked with Barbette seemed to adore his scalding tongue. 

Liza: What event occurred in your life that has influenced your novels?

Kyle: My own curiosity about my gay sexual orientation makes me curious about gay history. I’m striving to uncover stories of the last century, when gay love was considered sinful or unlawful. Gay people need heroes. Barbette needs to be raised up. He was brave. He was a pioneer in so many ways, yet not many people know about him.

Liza: Well, I'm glad you've brought Babette to light. If he had been allowed to write the novel rather than you, how would the story have been different?

Kyle: Ever the showman—or should I say
‘showwoman’? (Haha!)—Barbette would present his life in the best possible, most glamorous way.  But I think it was the grit, the struggles in his life that really define him. So much of Barbette wasn’t the glossy glamour queen he presented. His genius sprung forth from a tenacious determination only creative vision can generate. 

Liza: How would you describe your relationship with your muse?  Have you ever needed intervention?

Kyle: Barbette inhabited my brain while writing Wildflower for sure!  The more I dug into his story, the more impressed I was by who he was and what he accomplished.  He drove me to push for perfection. It was a truly powerful, transformative experience for me. 

Liza: I was surprised to learn Barbette grew up in a small Texas town?

Kyle: Sometimes I think people want to divorce the gay experience from the American experience, which is a theme of all of my books. Barbette was so American. He was also very Texan. As much as he disdained Texas for its lack of refinement, he also possessed a Texan’s thick-as-iron spine. Barbette dreamt it. He worked hard with discipline and dedication to give birth to his vision. He thrived in a world he created in his own terms. 

When it looked as if his career was finished, like a true American, he reinvented himself.  His life is a bonafide American experience! 

Liza: This has been a fascinating interview. Please tell me more about your book.

The Dramatic Life of Barbette -- 
Round Rock's First and Greatest Drag Queen

Kyle Taylor

“More fun than a sex party!”

 — Barbette

Long before Ru Paul  eyed his first pair of six inch stilettos or Boy George donned his colorful caftan, a handsome young man from the small town of Round Rock, Texas barnstormed the stages of Europe’s most lavish theaters and night clubs as Barbette, a beautiful aerialist drag queen who became a scandalous sensation throughout the Roaring Twenties.

Performing his erotic, high wire and trapeze routine in lavish, feminine regalia, Barbette shocked audiences by revealing the true nature of his gender at the very end of his act.

From a child who picked cotton and walked his mother’s clothes line to headlining at the Moulin Rouge in spectacular drag,  Wildflower reveals long-forgotten secrets of this enigmatic performer: his arrest in London on morals charges, his bout with polio, his infamous collaborations with some of Hollywood’s greatest stars— Orson Welles, Vincente Minnelli, and Judy Garland, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis as well as his hidden affair with French surrealist  Jean Cocteau.

Wildflower captivates with every page, dramatically revealing the startling and at times heart-breaking story of Round Rock’s first and greatest drag queen.

“You need to take a French lover. It is how you will learn quickly,” Princess Violette said instructively. Her voluminous frame rested on a simple wooden chair, similar to the one Vander sat at in front of his vanity—her girth permitting her to only sit like a man, with her legs open, the heels of her shoes flatly on the floor. 

“Yes, preferably one with a mustache!” Radiguet joked. 

Vander’s face colored.

“Ah, look he blushed!” Radiguet laughed robustly. 
Jean Cocteau grew more serious as he looked intently at Vander. 

“I must confess, I have seen your show many times in the past week. You are an angel, a flower, a bird.” 

“Oh dear!” Radiguet rolled his eyes. 

“Please!” Cocteau turned to Radiguet his eyes darting a flash of anger. Radiguet slumped into the armchair, knowing when Jean Cocteau had a point he wanted to make he would not tolerate distractions. 

“I have written a review. It shall be published tomorrow, but I wanted to come back here tonight, for what I have written in it, I can only say to you personally—tonight’s performance was again confirmation of my earlier impressions.”

Vander nodded toward Cocteau apprehensively as the Frenchman pulled from his coat a couple of sheets of scrawled manuscript. He started to read from them:
“The curtain goes up on a functional décor—a wire stretched between two supports, a trapeze, and hanging rings. In the back, a sofa covered with a white bearskin.”

“I love the bearskin!” Radiguet smiled, but Cocteau immediately silenced him with his hand as he continued to read from his manuscript. 

“Barbette enters adorned in ostrich feathers and a flowing lamé evening gown. As he removes his evening gown, he begins to perform a scabrous little scene—a real masterpiece of pantomime, summing up in parody all the women he has ever studied, becoming himself the woman—so much so as to eclipse the prettiest girls who precede and follow him on the program. Bursting on the audience as a ravishing creature he throws his dust with such force that from then on he is free to concentrate on his wire work, in which his masculine movements will help him instead of giving him away. He is no mere acrobat in women’s clothes, nor just a graceful daredevil but one of the most beautiful things in the theatre.”

Kyle Taylor is the author of Wildflower, Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil. He resides in New York—and of course he is a work of fiction! You can contact Kyle at BillionDollarDreamer@gmail.com. 

Also check out the trailer he made 


Be sure to leave your email address along with your question in your comments


  1. Thanks Liza for an awesome interview! I posted an image of the Princess Violet on my web page along with other images of Barbette and his friends. Here is the link: www.billiondollardreamer.com It's a great picture of her! -- It looks like she is about to cuss out the photographer.

    Everyone - feel free to ask me interesting questions. You could find yourself a winner of a $25 Amazon gift card.

    1. I just checked out the pic of Princess Violet. She's one scary violet. lol. I loved having you here. I'll keep you for three days because you are too fab for just one. (Also my readers are do busy they require days to show up.) They may be turtles that can type...not sure.

  2. OMG -- Tomorrow is my birthday. Check on in after 12 noon today (Central Time) for a very special announcement.

  3. I love the back-and-forth in the interview (especially the Margaret Mitchell remarks by Liza--they would have done Barbette proud, don't you think, Kyle?), and happy early birthday to Kyle!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  4. Okay Liza - Here is the scoop for your readers -- Tomorrow, June 25h, is my birthday! (George Michael and Supreme Court Justice Sonja Sotomayor - and no, it is not true that I have have slept with either of them!) Anyway, tomorrow, 'Wildflower' will be listed as a free ebook. I hope everyone enjoys the read!

    1. Well, I'll be sure to grab it. The book sounds fabulous!

  5. One more thing - Liza - I love your web page! I love how you post the research for your books. It is really interesting.

    1. Thanks Kyle. I have fun with my blogs (I've 2 of them, the other is sci-fi and you would not believe how I explain complex science facts to my readers. I can be very silly.)

  6. Interesting interview, thank you.


  7. Thanks Rita! You are so kind!

  8. Thanks for the offer! I will be getting the book. Happy Birthday! What is your birthday wish?

  9. Thanks Zachary! I lost my beloved golden retriever on Friday. My wish is to let the horrible grief I feel over his death subside. Thanks!

    1. So sorry to hear about your dog. It is painful to lose a loyal friend.

  10. Can't have much more fun than at a sex party! (like I'd know!) ha!

    1. LOL. Yeah, but I think Babette was very familiar with then. I'll find out when I pick up the book tomorrow.

    2. Hi D'Ann! Barbette said the quip to one of the women he was directing who came off stage and was pleased with her performance saying, "That was fun!" and then Babette said the quip. I think Liza is correct -- From my research, Barbette ran in a fast crowd of avant garde surrealists and deposed nobility. There were documented drugs and sex parties for sure. These elements are covered in the book. But Barbette was an incredible athlete and highly professional. I can't imagine him being debauched to any great degree during his performing career. He did multiple shows a day that required incredible strength and concentration. So in a way, he reminds me of Andy Warhol in the 1960's -- he didn't do drugs, but he sure had a lot of friends who did.

  11. Wonderful interview. What do you think Babette would tell teenage you who was wondering about your love interest? Would he be supportive or would he try to warn you off?

    1. Hi Melissa! Thanks for your question. I think you are asking what would Barbette say to someone who was a teenager today who may identify as gay? It is a great question. A little background -- I was never sure how Barbette came into sexual maturity. He left home at sixteen years old. I imagined that he came of age somehow on the road, in the circus or the vaudeville circuit where he played. Certainly, when he makes it to Paris, he was immersed in a very open gay world of the surrealists, with its ring master, Jean Cocteau, who was absolutely fascinated by Barbette. With the sexual nature of his act coupled with his associations, I think Barbette would have had a lot of suitors. (And then there is the fact of his arrest in London for having sexual relations with a man back stage at the Palladium.)

      So with that said - I think one of the reasons why I wrote this book was for the young person who may be unique like Barbette. I felt if this guy could somehow make it a hundred years ago, maybe that is comfort for a young person who identifies with his story. Barbette indicated in his 1969 interview a disdain for Texas because of its crudity. So I think he would embrace tolerance, acceptance and even celebration of the unique aspects of human sexuality. Fascinating question!

  12. Interesting interview. So sorry about your dog. They are wonderful friends.

    1. Thanks Karen -- I agree. He was the best friend. A true companion. I miss him every day.

  13. OMG! This is turning out to be a great blog day! Keep the questions coming! I will be around all night. : )

  14. Wow, super interesting interview as I've learned so much. I'm not sure there is an answer to this but I have to wonder what Barbette would see as his own successes and failures. I mean for someone that so many could look up to as a hero, it is easier for us to point out what we admire, but would he agree? What do you think he would say still lacked in regards to his accomplishments in life?

    1. Hi Toni -- Really interesting question! I don't think Barbette ever had a long term loving relationship. At least none surfaced other than that of Cocteau. He took his life at his sister's home - so in the end he didn't have a lover to care for him.

      Professionally, I bet Barbette would have loved to direct the entire production of a big-time circus. He directed aerialists, but not the whole thing. I always felt if Barbette lived to a hundred, he could have been a spectacular director of Cirque du Soleil productions. Those who worked with him said he was extremely creative and very demanding. He was a control freak as well and would often get into it with the supervising show directors. The fantasia of Cirque du Soleil would have been just the thing for him.

  15. Great interview. I tweeted.

    1. Thank you so much! Please feel free to tweet that the ebook of Wildflower is FREE today on account of my birthday! I want to really drive up the sales.

  16. I really enjoyed having you on my blog. Come back anytime! Best of luck on your blog tour.

  17. Thanks Liza -- I will announce the winner tonight of the best blog host - You are certainly in the running! You have been amazing!!!


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