AUTHORLINK: What drew you to The Shore as a setting for your novel?
TAYLOR: As a small child, I read Misty of Chincoteague and was captivated by the descriptions of the place; when I moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia as a teenager I was captivated by the place itself. It is geographically so close to D.C. and culturally so distant, both charming in the small-town way described in Mistyand completely uncanny. I wanted to capture a sense of the place as I saw it, and preserve the memory of it for when I moved on.
AUTHORLINK: How did you decide on the arrangement of the stories since they aren’t chronological?
TAYLOR: Gradually, and with much agony. I did try the chronological order at first, because it made sense, but the whole lacked the sort of narrative shape that I needed it to have. Then, I tried arranging them based on the order in which I wanted the reader to encounter the characters’ secrets, but that didn’t quite work either. The ultimate order is because of some advice I was given about sending work to agents: ‘put the best bit first. If the best bit doesn’t come until page 50, you didn’t need the first 49 pages.’ So I put what I thought was the best bit first and the other bits mostly fell into place.
AUTHORLINK: Did you have more expanded versions of some of the stories in earlier drafts or did you use family members who wound up being cut?
TAYLOR: There were five chapters that were cut completely, and two others that didn’t get beyond the outline and note stage, mostly because they focused on characters that were peripheral. I’m more than a little tempted to go back to those and see what I can do with them, but I’ve recently gotten into trouble for working on two projects at once. The stories that made it to the finished book were actually quite a bit shorter in the earliest drafts, and a few gained so much weight in the editing stage that they had to be split in half; I don’t know how it happens, but no matter how much I cut out every draft winds up being longer than its predecessor.
AUTHORLINK: Your story concerns more than eight generations of the Day/Lumsden family, but some of the chapters are from the point of view of non-family members such as Izzy and Jake. Why Is that?
TAYLOR: There were certain events that I felt necessary to include in the book but that didn’t have the right impact when they were told from the point of view of what the reader would consider to be the main character. The stories that Izzy and Jake narrate are about Ellie, but the focus in both cases is on the narrator’s experiences; the stories explore the community and its attitudes more widely without being completely separated from the main characters. And it was important to me to have Ellie continually show up in the background but never get a voice of her own.