After enjoying abundant success online via Wattpad including over a million reads and being a two-time Watty award winner including the 2018 Worldbuilders award, Given by Nandi Taylor is now gearing up for international release under Wattpad Books on January 21, 2020. Taylor discussed why her story ascending into trade publication is meaningful to her. “Posting the book online was kind of my way to keep myself accountable and make sure I kept writing,” Taylor shares with So Booking Cool. “As it gained popularity, people were asking me ‘hey, you were supposed to update this week, where’s the update?’ So that kept me going and just to see it grow and gain that following, especially a book—a romance book with a…explicitly dark-skinned heroine, it was really gratifying to see.
And seeing her on the cover and knowing that that book’s going to be in bookstores and other young, dark skinned girls are gonna see that, it’s really, really exciting…it gives me a warm, tingly feeling.”
In Given, 18-year-old princess Yenni travels abroad to enroll in an academy that can help her find a cure for her ailing father. Like many who relocate, Yenni must adjust to her new way of life, in which she endures culture shock and prejudice. She involuntarily falls for a human-altering-dragon who claims her as his Given (or soulmate) but like with any well-crafted romance, there are hurdles that test their relationship.
Many, including Kirkus Reviews, have praised Given for its worldbuilding. Taylor, who has been captured by fantasy and sci-fi since childhood (so much so that she penned her own stories even back then), also credits her alternate universe and description techniques to her experience as a travel journalist. “Going places and kind of really having to paint a picture of that place on the page so that people get excited and wanna visit,” the author describes. “And it’s the same thing with writing a book. You’re kind of trying to make people feel excited and almost want to visit the world you create.”
Listen to the full interview to learn more about Taylor such as having parents who wanted her to have a practical career; how creative writing in school fueled her love for literature; how Given is inspired by real events in Taylor’s life; the benefits of having readers comment one’s story in real-time; her thoughts on Yenni being a hero archetype and being unworried about the character seeming like a “Mary Sue”; recalling the time she realized how many black people enjoyed Game of Thrones; the advice she follows from an author she respects; Given’s sequel, Hidden; and more! For more information visit Taylor’s official website.