Harry Potter was at the top of his game until a first-time writer, G. P. Taylor, decided to take him on with a wildly delicious novel. In the span of a summer, Taylor's first book, Shadowmancer, became "hotter than Potter," garnering the attention of critics and readers around the world. But Taylor, an unknown to the literary world, was a mystery. His bio simply read, "Graham Taylor has spent the whole of his life searching for the hidden secrets of the universe. He lectures on the paranormal and folklore and lives in a secluded graveyard."
In Sin, Salvation & Shadowmancer, Taylor maintains that every word of his bio is true: "I've searched for the secrets of the universe all my life, and we lived in the middle of a church graveyard. I just wasn't going to shout out `I'm a vicar' and have people not buy the book because of that."
His autobiography takes a vivid look at his unconventional life. Taylor describes his parents as "hardworking, loving people," but all those hours at work took a toll on Taylor. He eventually grew angry and resentful of his father's absence, and began hanging out with the wrong crowd. Drinking, smoking and girls soon followed. His party life and rebellious behavior got him in trouble not only in the classroom but also in the streets. Despite poor grades and expulsions, Taylor was given a break and accepted into college. By the end of the first year, he was kicked out.
Promising himself and everyone he knew that he was going to be famous one day, he packed up and headed to London. He landed a job with CBS Records, where he promoted new releases --- including Bob Dylan and Earth, Wind & Fire --- to radio stations. He ended up partying himself out of the job, but soon landed a position at Virgin Records. Taylor quips, "Employing me was one of Richard Branson's only mistakes." This was particularly true on the evening Taylor crashed Branson's yacht. Needless to say, Taylor didn't work at Virgin Records much longer.
Yet God was constantly working behind the scenes. Wherever Taylor went, he found Christians who persistently shared the love and kindness of God with him. Eventually, he gave in and felt a call to ministry. Taylor continued to work an assortment of jobs usually accompanied by colorful capers (including working as a police officer) before becoming a vicar.
One day, he was challenged to come up with something better than the magical novels kids were devouring. He decided to give it a try. Of writing Shadowmancer, Taylor says:
"From that first morning in March, the story took shape little by little each day. Most days I found ten or fifteen minutes to write. The odd thing was, once I put the characters on the page, they took on lives of their own. They started to act and behave in ways that I did not completely control. As soon as they opened their mouths, their words would change the course of the story. The process was very exciting as the characters started to talk to each other and things started to develop. I never knew from one day to the next where the story was going."
The blockbuster success of Shadowmancer, which was originally self-published, was completely unexpected --- as were the health issues that accompanied Taylor's rise to stardom.
Taylor's life is a portrait of grace, a story of God's pursuit of one man. If you love his books, which also include Wormwood and Tersias, you'll love his story. Highly recommended.
--- Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg