By Mary Yuhas
Prudy Taylor Board is a project editor with Taylor and Francis Publishing, a leading publisher of technical, academic and scientific nonfiction headquartered in Boca Raton.
Currently, she leads two critique groups in Palm Beach County and is the immediate past president of the Writers Network of South Florida. She has had 22 books (15 regional histories in Florida and South Carolina and 5 novels) and more than a thousand articles published in regional and national magazines. She was a staff writer for the News Press, public information officer for the sheriff’s department; assignment editor and reporter for CBS and NBC TV affiliates on the other coast, and managing editor of two regional magazines — Lee Living and Home & Condo. She also edited The Fiction Writer, a magazine for writers distributed nationally. In Palm Beach County, before moving to Taylor and Francis, she was Managing Editor of Dartnell Corporation’s sales publications and personally edited Sell!ng™ and Sales & Marketing Executive Report for which she won a national award as most improved from the Newsletters and Electronic Publishers Association.
In addition, she has taught creative writing in Naples, Sanibel, Delray Beach, and Fort Myers and has lectured, appeared on panels, and conducted writers’ workshops throughout the United States and in Canada. Prudy Taylor Board is a native of Florida and a graduate of Stetson University in Deland and the University of Florida.
Her most recent novel, titled Devil Eyes dealing with Seminole lore and legends, was published in by Wings ePress. Previous novels include a paranormal mystery titled A Grave Injustice, published in hardcover by Archebooks. Her novel, Murder a la Carte, the first in the Recipes for Murder series, came out in hardback from Archebooks and was released in paperback by Harlequin’s Worldwide/Gold Eagle Mysteries and sold 17,000 copies. She is currently working on The Deadly Cleaver, the second in the Recipes for Murder series which takes place in Nassau at the Bahamian International Wine and Culinary Festival. Her previous novels, The Vow and Blood Legacy, were published in paperback by Leisure Books and Pocketbooks respectively. Prudy is also the author of 101 Tips on Writing and Selling your First Novel, which is now available at most bookstores and online. In addition, she was a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Inspiration for Writers.
LitVote: You’ve written 26 books. What were your first books?
Prudy: My very first book was the history of Lee County. I had written a column about local history for the local paper, the Fort Myers News-Press, so it seemed a natural. I was fortunate because the News-Press and a local bank financed it and Donning published it. Donning liked my work so I later did the other regional histories for Donning.
LitVote: How did you become move on to horror and mystery?
Prudy: I taught myself to read when I was about five and my mother loved to read detective magazines. I became interested in reading and later writing them as well. As for the horror, I always have loved horror movies. I’m especially fond of the old b/w movies with Karloff, Lugosi, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, not the slash and gash bodice rippers so popular today. In fact, my horror novels are more paranormal.
As for the real impetus for the horror, one day we were in the living room and mother stood up and said to my father, “Oh dear, Uncle John just died.” Uncle John had not been ill.
Within minutes the phone rang with the news that Uncle John had indeed dropped dead of heartache. That intrigued me and led me into a lifelong exploration involving travel to Haiti where I attended a voodoo ceremony, a trip to Chichen Itza with a medium who conducted a séance at a cenote and in Cartagena, I interviewed a 90-year-old medium. I also interviewed various mediums including Jeane Dixon.
LitVote: Is it difficult is it to write in different genres?
Prudy: Not difficult. The difference comes in the preplanning and the research. Regardless of the genre, I always do a complete outline and in-depth character studies. Stephen King inadvertently taught me to write. I had written my first novel which had been rejected 30 times. The rejections were growing more favorable, but still I couldn’t sell it. I finally took King’s (whose work I admire tremendously) Salem’s Lot and broke it down scene by scene. That taught me more about structure than any class. Needless to say, my book sold to Leisure and the second sold to Pocket. I’ve never had a book rejected since. Thanks, Mr. King!
LitVote: Do you use different pen names with each genre? If so, why?
Prudy: Yes. I write the mysteries under Prudy Taylor Board and the horror novels under my maiden name, Prudence Foster. It’s not a matter of being devious. I do this because readers have expectations. When they pick up Devil Eyes by Prudence Foster they are expecting and getting a horror novel. The same for Prudy Taylor Board and A Grave Injustice. Those readers get a mystery.
LitVote: Your mysteries have recipes in them? How did that happen?
Prudy: It’s not because I love cooking! I hdon’t even know how to turn on my oven. I decided to do that because I thought it would create a form of cross-marketing. It would appeal to mystery readers and mystery reader/foodies. Fortunately, I have good friends who have written cookbooks and they test my recipes.
LitVote: You’ve been a TV host and a journalist. Has that influenced your writing?
Prudy: Writing for newspapers, newsletters, and magazines has definitely influenced my work because I learned to “write tight,” to avoid too many adverbs and adjectives, to check my verbs to be sure they are strong and colorful, and to deal harshly with so, but, very, and that. They are so unnecessary. Like drenching a fine filet mignon in batter.Ugh! As for TV, yes, the amateur sleuth in that first book is the host of a TV cooking show and my background in TV was invaluable.
LitVote: You have a passion for teaching and have taught numerous classes. Is there a single most important thing that first time authors should do?
Prudy: I love writing and helping young (in experience) writers who share my passion. Today, there are two absolute necessities: 1) write the best book you can and 2) learn and put together a marketing plan to submit with your synopsis. I don’t think it’s really fair, but it’s reality—today authors must know how to market themselves and their works. Publishers no longer do it—at least not for midlist authors.
LiteVote: There have been so many changes in the publishing industry since you started writing. Do you recommend first time authors follow the traditional route and find a publisher book or take the e-Book route?
Prudy: A lot of people are self-publishing, and I wish them the best of luck. As far as I’m concerned personally, if my book isn’t good enough that a publisher will pay for it, it’s not good enough. As for e-Books, I let the publisher worry about that.
LitVote: You said that somewhere during writing a first book, an author finds his way. Can you explain that further?
Prudy: There comes a golden time when you’re writing a book, that it’s no longer work. It may be chapter one or chapter twenty-five, but of a sudden, you know your characters so well that you just sit back and let them tell their stories. Your writing becomes freer and better. It’s a magic time. The downside is that—I can’t speak for other authors—but for me, when I have finished a book, I grieve for the loss of those characters. They have become an important and intimate part of my life.
LitVote: Do you recommend critique groups?
Prudy: Absolutely! With one caveat. The person leading the group must be a working writer. English teachers are wonderful, but they aren’t in the business of writing. And you must choose your members carefully. They don’t necessarily have to be at the same level of expertise, but they should definitely be compatible and willing to be critiqued constructively and honestly. That’s the only way they grow as writers.
LitVote: What’s in your future?
Prudy: I work full time as an editor at Taylor & Francis Publishing where we publish scientific books, but I am also half-finished with Damballah’s Disciple, a horror novel that takes place in Haiti, and The Deadly Cleaver, a mystery that takes place in Nassau.
Mary Yuhas, is a journalist and has contributed to Sun-Sentinel, USA Today, China Daily USA and Washington Times among others, creator of Baby Boomers the first reality blog and the author of the upcoming memoir, QUIT AND BE QUIET, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother, featured three times on Scribd.