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L U C Y   T A Y L O R

(excerpted from Locus Magazine, November 1998)
Lucy Taylor
    Photo by Beth Gwinn

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Lucy [Lucile Campbell] Taylor was born November 30, 1951, in Richmond, Virginia. She studied philosophy and art history at the University of Richmond, graduating with a B.A. in philosophy. Her first writing was non-fiction, mainly travel writing, and she has also taught English in Japan, and ballroom dancing in the US! She turned to fiction seven years ago when she moved to Boulder, Colorado. Her first novel, The Safety of Unknown Cities (1995) received the Stoker Award, along with the International Horror Critics Award and the Deathrealm Award. Her short fiction has been collected in Close to the Bone (1993), Unnatural Acts (1994), The Flesh Artist (1994), and Painted in Blood (1997); horror novella Spree came out this year.

''A lot of people are going to be turned off by the kind of horror I write. I don't write very much supernatural horror. It's less frightening, because it's horror couched in metaphor. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, all this stuff, can be brought off really well if the writer's good enough, but real-life horror is much scarier. We're pretty sure there's not going to be a werewolf coming through the window, whereas if somebody flips out, breaks in, and blows us away, that could happen. I'm much more worried about the guy out there with the gun than the werewolf.

''Part of the appeal of supernatural fiction, it seems to me, is you're getting the same frisson, but dressed up in metaphorical terms one level removed from reality assuming you don't really believe in that stuff. You're not dealing with the real world anymore; you're dealing with a fantasy world. However horrible it may be, you're still right there in escapist fiction. In my work, what I've always felt to be the most terrifying situation of all because of my background and how I grew up is not the werewolf or the total stranger nutcase who breaks in the door and shoots folk. It's your mother, your father, your husband, your lover, your child whoever you are closest to, love the most in this world, and think loves you you wake up and they're the ones standing there with the ax.

''Sometimes they're not standing there with the ax, they don't do it that cleanly they just do it by increments, destroying you. If I had to define horror, that's horror: knowing you're hated that much by the one person you love more than anything. That, to me, is worse than dying it's dying plus knowing this level of betrayal is taking place. And that's what I like to write about.

''The safest I've ever felt in my life is when I'm in a foreign country where no one knows me, and I know no one, and no one on the planet, to the best of my knowledge, knows exactly where I am. To me, that is such safety! I was telling a friend about that, and it is from that conversation that the title for my novel, The Safety of Unknown Cities, evolved.

''It's basically a novel about addiction, specifically sex addiction which is another area I feel fairly interested in. It's also about the only fiction I've done that's completely fantasy. I wanted to do something with the ultimate erotic paradise, that sort of degenerates into an erotic hell when it gets to a certain level. For all the bells and whistles in this exotic land, the protagonist is basically a sex addict, and she's wandering through a metaphorical sex addict's hell. At the end, she's sort of recovered, but there's always that possibility she could relapse, because she hangs onto this one object that would be her ticket back to the city.

''If I really think about it, everything I've ever wanted God has given me. My life hasn't always been that great, because I have wanted some really stupid things! Sure, be careful what you pray for. But it's really amazing when I really wanted something and thought I couldn't have it, it has appeared.

''So maybe my writing career will end up somewhere real good too. Who knows? I would like for my work to be reaching a wider public, for sure. I hope to hell somebody buys this stuff. But if they don't, I'll just keep writing!''

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.