A couple of years ago, Buffalo State English Department lecturer Ed Taylor was contemplating what life must be like for children growing up within the shadow of celebrity parents.
“We live in such a celebrity-driven culture, but we don’t hear so much about the children of the talented people. They can be in a perilous position even though their lives look rich and privileged from the outside,” said Taylor, former director of the Just Buffalo Literary Center and a writer whose short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies.
Taylor’s ruminations resulted in his first novel, Theo, released earlier this month by the United Kingdom’s Old Street Publishing. Read review in The Guardian.
Although Theo is very much a novel for adults, the protagonist is a 10-year-old boy. Taylor expertly tells the story through the eyes of this boy, who despite his tender age, lives like a virtual orphan. His hugely successful rock star father spends most of the year on tour while his fragile mother floats in and out of drug rehabilitation. Theo’s grandfather, raising him in a decrepit Long Island mansion, should be the stabilizing influence in Theo’s life, but he isn’t.
Set in the 1980s, the novel focuses on two days of debauchery after Theo’s father returns home for the summer with an assortment of musicians, publicists, agents, and groupies in his wake.
“The ‘80s was an interesting period. It was before the Internet, so (characters) can be more isolated, but it’s not the ancient past,” said Taylor. “The ‘60s bands were becoming obsolete. Punk was still hanging on but changing, and the next generation hadn’t broken through yet. Music was just starting to get visual with MTV, and that was important to the culture.”
Theo does not mirror the author’s childhood in North Carolina, which he described as “great.” Rather, the novel stemmed from Taylor’s imagination and his diligence in writing every day for the year the novel took to complete.
“Overall, it was a relatively easy experience because the characters ran the story; the plot just flowed from them,” said Taylor, who is now working on his next novel.
Theo is available at local independent bookstores and on Amazon. Taylor will present a reading on Wednesday, April 30, at 7:00 p.m. at Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main Street in Buffalo. It is free and open to the public.