Please join the Chicks in welcoming Elena Taylor, author of ALL WE BURIED. Elena is also a playwright as well as the author of the Eddie Shoes Mysteries–and as you’ll see below, she’s had a number of fascinating jobs!
Everything I Ever Learned Turned Out to be a Lie
When I was a kid, I was really, really good in school. I soaked up everything ever taught to me and could regurgitate it back in short essay, multiple choice, or true/false form. I bought into the fantasy that teachers knew the truth and all I had to do was study and I too would know the ways of the world.
That turned out to be a lie.
Pluto isn’t a planet, no wait, I lied to you, yes it is.
New Math would never make an appearance, no matter how much it was touted.
And not everyone can be president when she grows up, even if she’s the right person for the job.
I’ve even learned recently that my science teacher lied to me about how tides work. I had to have it explained correctly by some guy on YouTube, except maybe that was also a lie. It’s hard to know what’s true anymore.
Given all that, it makes perfect sense every career path I’ve ever followed is that of a professional liar.
I started out as an auto mechanic and that’s no lie. This was back in the ‘80s, so I was definitely a novelty, having, you know, boobs and all, but I was an honest-to-god auto mechanic.
It was in that particular industry that I learned how to upsell. Not that a car owner didn’t NEED a particular part or service, but would the car run fine without it? I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Then I worked as a bartender. Talk about a professional liar. All that stuff about you being a great conversationalist? Total lie. When you are paying someone to listen to your jokes, they aren’t laughing because you’re funny. Trust me, you are being lied to. You also aren’t half as good looking as you think you are at one o’clock in the morning.
But it put me through college and that’s no lie.
I’ve also worked as a college professor. So much lying. I can’t even begin to tell you the depths of lies spouted on college and university campuses. I could write an entire post just about that.
Or maybe write a new mystery series. I have more than once considered killing off a dean or two, it would be so incredibly satisfying. On paper of course, I would NEVER do that in the real world.
I also spent more than twenty years working in the theatre. The very nature of theatrical productions is to lie to the audience. This is real food! It’s actually raining on stage! That actor died in front of you! Ghosts walk among us!
It’s all a lie.
We have this great expression in the theater, “to lie truthfully,” which means that you are in fact lying, because you aren’t the person you pretend to be onstage, it’s not the first time you’ve ever said those words, and you don’t look this good without your stage makeup on, but you do so with an honesty that makes it all right.
After all, everyone is in on the gig, including the audience.
But lying is lying even when the people being lied to have paid big money for the pleasure of you doing it. Let’s just admit it, we all love being lied to in the right context.
I followed that career up with, well, you know, writing fiction for a living.
So here I am, lying again . . . professionally.
Every writer lies. Our characters are fake, our scenarios have never happened, our emotional stakes are fabricated, except . . .
There is oh so much truth in it all.
One of the strangest things I ever experienced as a playwright, was discovering people who lived through the exact events I put onstage, long before they ever set foot in my theater.
This has included an Iraq veteran who accidentally killed an Iraqi child in a basement and buried him in that cellar, a son discovering his never-before-known father by tracking him down to a small-town bakery, and a Vietnam veteran who came to me after one of my plays and said, “Yes, I lived this. How could you know?”
I won’t lie to you. It was quite the eye-opener to realize I wasn’t always lying. I was in fact, speaking truths. Truths I didn’t even know I was telling, because I thought I was, you know . . . making stuff up.
Fiction is by definition created through imaginary people and events. You know, lies.
So why then, are we so engaged with these characters? Why are we caught up in their loves and fears and struggles? Why, why, why if it’s all one big fat lie?
I think I have come up with the answer.
We love fiction because it shows us the truth in our own lives. We see all the things we could do if we quit lying to ourselves. We meet characters braver than us. Characters who act selflessly and without thought of the danger to themselves.
We love fiction because the characters in books do all the things we wish we could. They act on their desires. They make bold choices. They play for huge stakes against incredible odds . . . and win.
So, here’s my advice to you, from one liar to another, pretend for just a little while, you’re a fictional character. Take the chance. Make the big gesture. Be bold. Play for the huge stakes. Fight the incredible odds.
You might find that little voice in your ear that has been telling you for years that you can’t achieve something, has been nothing but a lie.
And that’s the truth.
Readers, take it away in the comments!
Elena Taylor spent several years working in the theater before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduces a quirky mother/daughter crime fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel.
When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. To learn more, visit: https://www.elenataylorauthor.com
Synopsis: All We Buried
For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.
Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?
Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
All We Buried is available in hardback, e-book, and audio formats.