Q&A with Virginia Taylor
What brings you the greatest joy?
Beauty gives me the greatest joy, and beauty comes in many forms - like the smell of a bread baking in the oven, the opening of a rose, the colours of the sunset, or the shiny polished grain of wood.
What quote do you live by?
'If you want anything done, ask a busy person.' I think that person mainly ends up being me but I love being busy.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Crying when I need to.
What makes you laugh?
I have a quirky sense of humour, rather dry. The ridiculously silly is more likely to make me laugh than the obvious.
What is on your nightstand?
A tall pile of library books and a kindle sits on my nightstand. Oh, and three bookmarks. You can never have too many.
What makes you cry?
It's crazy really, but kindness makes me tear up.
What talents do you wish you had?
I would really, truly love to be a good public speaker.
What is your most irrational fear?
My fear of flying is irrational, so they say.
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
The most interesting people I like to eat with are those who don't drink too much, appreciate good healthy food, and share my interests - like other writers or people who paint, design, or work in gardens.
Who do you envy?
I have a 92 year old neighbour who is beautiful, smart, and still active. Someone once said to me, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to end up like Jean?" I said, "Well, since I didn't start out as Jean, I don't see that happening." Nevertheless, I dream.
What author had a profound effect on you?
Dorothy Dunnett. I've read each of her series books four or five times and I still find words or phrases that make me breathe reverently.
What do you wish you'd known when you were younger?
That I was going to get older too.
What is the best compliment you ever received?
A famous artist who was once married to an almost famous artist I worked with said that I did the best faux-marble painting she'd ever seen. I can't decide if being a good faker is as good as 'oh, and you used to be sooo beautiful,' which was said in a disappointed voice to me by someone I hadn't seen for twenty years. I tend not to concentrate on compliments unless they are memorably funny.
What surprises people most, once they get to know you?
I'm pretty sure I haven't ever surprised anyone.
Do you believe in writer's block?
I don't believe in writer's block. Writing a book is like being confronted with a series of paths and deciding which one to take. A writer might go some way along the first path before she realises she has reached a dead end. Then, she needs to retrace her steps and find the right path. It's there. She just needs to keep walking.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always wanted to be a reader but when I wasn't finding the stories I wanted to read, I decided to write them myself.
What piece of advice would you give aspiring writers?
Finish the first book and don't expect anyone at all to be impressed.
An aspiring dressmaker, orphaned Starling Smith is accustomed to fighting for her own survival. But when she’s offered a year’s wages to temporarily pose as a wealthy man’s bride, she suspects ulterior motives. She can’t lose the chance to open her own shop, but she won’t be any man’s lover, not even handsome, infuriating Alisdair Seymour’s…
To prevent his visiting sister from parading potential brides in front of him, Alisdair has decided to present a fake wife. He lost his heart once, and had it broken—he doesn’t intend to do it again. But stubborn, spirited Starling is more alluring than he bargained for, and Alisdair will risk everything he has to prove his love is true…
Set against the sweeping backdrop of 1866 South Australia, Starling is a novel of cherished dreams and powerful desires, and the young woman bold enough to claim them both…