G. P. Taylor
Reverend G.P. (Graham) Taylor is not your average village vicar. Not every vicar was a police officer. Not every vicar used to work in the high-pressure pop music industry. Not every vicar's first vicarage is visited annually by thousands of vampires. And not every vicar is a best-selling author…. Perhaps it is fitting, therefore, that his first novel, Shadowmancer, is not your average book.
G.P. Taylor was born in the north of England in Scarborough, the youngest of three children to a working class family. His father, a cobbler, was profoundly deaf so sign language was almost like a first language to Graham. He says that his writing style is very visual for that reason.
Growing up, Graham hung out with the neighborhood rebels. As a teen he idolized David Bowie. Plans to become a teacher were sidelined when he moved to London. In London, at the age of 19, Graham became a promoter for CBS Records, plugging such popular acts as Earth, Wind, and Fire, Adam Ant, and Bob Dylan to radio stations, record stores, and concert promoters over the phone. Meanwhile, in the evenings he was heavily involved in the Punk Rock scene with the likes of Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, the Stranglers, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols.
By 22, the hectic lifestyle of the Punk Rock scene had taken its toll and Graham decided to leave London. He returned to the North of England with a single suitcase in hand and less than ten pounds in his wallet. He found a job in the social work sector at a drop-in daycare center for the elderly, and adults who were mentally ill, had learning disabilities, or were visually or hearing impaired. He met his wife, a volunteer, at the center and they married within six months. Today they have been married for over twenty years.
Beginning in his teenage years, Graham had often felt as if a voice were telling him to turn toward the Church and to become a Vicar. He first ran away from the voice to go to London and he ran away from it again at this time. Many of his friends were members of the police force and they loved their jobs. Graham decided he would join them.
After his police training, Graham was assigned to large market towns in the North with a lot of street violence. He will tell you that for two years he spent his weekends "rolling around on the ground with teenagers." Later, he moved on to drug enforcement, the riot squad, and was sent to the New Castle Riots.
During all of this time, Graham ignored repeated callings from the voice. One day, he hoped to quiet it a little by enrolling in theological college while still working full time as a police officer.
While Graham had many close calls during his eight years on the police force, it was in 1995 that he was beaten to within an inch of his life. The physical trauma resulted in serious, permanent injuries which made him unfit for duty. As a result, he was forced to retire.
His time as a policeman came to an end, but during the same year, he had also finished theological college and was ordained by the Church of England. Later, after the attack, the Bishop of Whitby offered Graham the post of Parish Priest of Whitby. Something, it seems, the voice had known all along would happen.
Graham's first Church, St. Mary's of Whitby, is one of the oldest in the UK and is famous for its connection with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hundreds, if not thousands, of believers in the occult come to St. Mary's every November to commemorate Dracula's escape from the shipwrecked Dementor. Stoker's story has Dracula, who changed into the form of a black dog, run from the destroyed ship in the harbor up 199 steps and into the church.
In addition to "vampires," Whitby's parishioners have had their fair share of ghosts. In Graham's time there, he was asked at least once a month to expel ghosts from people's homes. Graham believes that it is the rise in people's interest in the occult that attracts the spirits into their homes. In the middle ages, it was a capital offence if a Vicar was unable to rid a home of a troublesome ghost. In his career as Vicar, Graham has been involved in at least 50 exorcisms.
Today, Graham is the Vicar of Ravenscar at another church called St. Mary's. It has a dramatic location, set on high clifftops. On sunny days, sometimes a white fog rolls just below the level of the cliffs and makes it look as if you could walk off the cliffs and into the clouds. It was in this idyllic setting, as Graham was driving over the moors one night, that the idea for Shadowmancer started taking form.
The very next day, Graham sat down to begin the story. He wrote in his spare time over the next nine months. After sending the manuscript to an on-line editor for what turned out to be a very negative critique, Graham decided that he would self-publish his novel. Since a Vicar's wages are meager, Graham decided to sell his most prized possession, his 1000cc "chopper" motorcycle, to finance the endeavor.
Graham's first two events as an author took place at local bookstores. He sold about 100 copies at each signing, but was a little discouraged because he had 2,000 more copies lining the small hallways of his house. He did not realize that these numbers were impressive for a first-time author. These events proved to be an early key in the success of Shadowmancer as a reporter from the local daily newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, attended one of the signings. He later gave Shadowmancer a shining review, and after hearing about it, Waterstones (a big chain in the UK) ordered 1,500 copies of the book.
Eventually, Graham's self-published volumes found their way into the hands of an agent and were sold to Faber and Faber (UK). The publishing house was so confident about Shadowmancer's appeal that they published it on June 21, 2003, the same day that the fifth installment of Harry Potter was set to hit the shelves. Immediately, Shadowmancer soared to the top of the bestseller list right next to Harry Potter.
Since then "Shadowmania" has swept the UK. The Reverend Graham Taylor has been interviewed by every major media outlet and has become a bona fide celebrity.
G.P. Taylor is the Vicar of Ravenscar, and currently divides his time between writing and his clergy. He lives in Cloughton, a village near Scarborough in Yorkshire, UK with his wife and three daughters.
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