Laura Jane Williams

Taylor Blake Is a Legend: The teen debut from the bestselling rom-com author
Laura Jane Williams

About Author

Queen of the cute-meet Laura Jane Williams introduces her debut novel for teenagers, Taylor Blake is a Legend.       

Laura is Grazia's former dating columnist; she wrote a weekly column for Red magazine online, and was Marie Claire's Break Free from Fear ambassador for 2016. She has contributed essays and articles to the Telegraph, the Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Grazia and more.  She now writes fiction full time. 



Taylor Blake is a Legend  (Bloomsbury YA)

July 2024

Queen of the cute-meet Laura Jane Williams, ReadingZone's Author of the Month, introduces her debut novel for teenagers, Taylor Blake is a Legend;  meet 14-year-old Taylor Blake, keen to be the author of her own story and to find a path to her first proper kiss. 

Laura Jane Williams tells ReadingZone how her own 14-year-old self helped inspire Taylor Blake is a Legend, how you can never be 'too much', and what she would have loved to tell her own 14-year-old self.

Read a Chapter from Taylor Blake is a Legend


Laura Jane Williams introduces Taylor Blake is a Legend 

"Writing about a girl in Year 9 was a great way to reconnect to who I was before the world told me
who to be. And I have loved it!"

1.    Can you tell us a little about yourself, your hopes and dreams when you were a teenager, and about your life as a writer?

Hi! My name is Laura Jane Williams and I have always wanted to be a writer. The thing is, I didn't know if people like me could be writers! I didn't know any, and it seemed very "other". I think girls from Derbyshire were expected to do well at school and get "normal" jobs. Luckily for me, my parents were very cool and let me find my own path.

I got a creative writing degree and wrote for the school newspaper, kept a bi-weekly writing blog religiously, took journalism courses and applied for any opportunity I could. It was only when I moved to London when I was about 27 that I met people in proper creative fields, and got my first break contributing to a piece in the Guardian.

From there I wrote my first two books, both non-fiction, worked as a dating columnist and opinion journalist, and then I moved to romances for grown-ups. It's been an exciting and varied path!

2.    What inspired you to write your first novel for teenagers, Taylor Blake is a Legend? What have you enjoyed the most about writing for young people?

I think at my heart, I've always known that I was most myself at about age 14, in year 9. I absolutely loved it, and had so many friends and adventures and silly happenings. Once I got on the exam treadmill of school and university I definitely lost myself a bit, so writing about a girl in year 9 was a great way to reconnect to who I was before the world told me who to be. And I have loved it!

Re-engaging my most passionate, interested, unapologetic parts has been so good for me. I've already written the next Taylor Blake book, Taylor Blake Seizes The Day, and hope to write many, many more.

3.    Can you tell us a little about the characters at the heart of the story, Taylor Blake, and her friends Star and Lucy?

Taylor Blake is what you might say, "a lot". She's wild and passionate and really goes for life with both her head and her heart. I didn't want her being "full on" to be a bad thing, though. I was full on at school and had loads of friends! So it was important to me that her best friends let her be totally herself, and accepted her in totality even though they're different. Star, for example, is a lot more quiet and reserved, and Lucy is a straight-talking truth-giver who can be a bit bossy. But they're both accepted as themselves, too, so it's a really supportive and generous little friendship group, which I think is quite aspirational, to be honest. I want to be as good a friend as these three girls are to each other.

"Taylor poured out of me so easily, and I think it's because she's very much like the girl I was at 14."

4.   Why did you decide to let Taylor tell her story, and how did you find her voice? What are her best and worst habits?

Taylor poured out of me so easily, and I think it's because she's very much like the girl I was at 14 (the one I am trying to remember be more like now, at 38!) She was just waiting for her story to be told!

It's been very healing to write her, actually, because a lot of her best and worst habits reflect mine, so having love for Taylor has also meant having love for myself. I'd say her best habits are her zest for life, the way she encourages everyone around her grab life with two hands, because she does the same. On the other hand, she can be a bit hyper-focused on things, to the exclusion of paying attention to other people. She's working on it, though - as am I.

5.    Are there any teenagers in your life who helped you with your characters or dialogue?

I used to nanny three girls who are all teenagers now (one is even in college!) so I very much had them in mind when writing, because they are all fun and sassy. Friends have kids who are that age, and I used a few as beta readers too, which was amazing of them.

As for dialogue... I tried not to be an old person writing how I thought "hip" young folks would talk, and just wrote normal words that everyday people say. I hope that worked!

6.    There are many funny moments in Taylor's life - what made you laugh the most when you were writing her story?

I think anything involving her grandparents was funny to me, because they're so much like my own parents and how they behave with my child. It was really nice to be able to immortalise them in print that way, to be honest. And they only get even funnier in book two...

7.    Taylor is very focused on the upcoming French exchange, and all things French. Have you ever dreamed of living in Paris, like her?

I think part and parcel about being passionate about life is dreaming of all these different lives you might one day lead, and most people go through a bit of a Francophile phase because let's face it: the Parisiennes are very, very awesome. Taylor's mum lived in Paris and that probably helped to make her a Francophile, and just like her mum says, she'll probably also want to one day live in lots of places. Her friends talk about New York and L.A., so their horizons are broad!

I'm lucky that in my early 20s a good friend of mine lived in Paris, so I got to try on her life a few times a year. I didn't want to do it full time like she did, but it definitely gave me a great taste for how they do things there. I think buying fresh fish and bread at the market was my favourite thing to do there - it felt so chic!

"Taylor discovers, if you learn to apologise quickly and thoughtfully, and forgive yourself for never being perfect,
life will mostly turn out okay. It's not that serious!"

8.   Taylor gets many things wrong through the story - and many things come right. What would you like your readers to take from her journey?

That part of growing as a person means you will inevitably misstep and make mistakes. If you don't misstep occasionally, you're probably not taking enough risks! But like Taylor discovers, if you learn to apologise quickly and thoughtfully, and forgive yourself for never being perfect, life will mostly turn out okay. It's not that serious!

9.    What would you, as an adult, like to tell your own teenage self?

Oh gosh, where do I begin! Don't wear the frosted brown lipstick. Don't be so scared of boys. Apply yourself in French class more, so the language actually sticks. When you move suddenly, hold your chin up and be proud of yourself. Tell your parents you love them. Laugh, because like I say... it's not that serious!

10.    Where do you prefer to do your writing? And where do you go to relax and seek out inspiration for new books?

I recently moved, and have my own office now. I've decorated it in intricate William Morris wallpaper and painted the ceiling pink and put my desk right in the middle of the room so I don't stare at a wall when I write, but rather outwards, towards the rest of the room. It has all my favourite artwork and just feels cosy and inspiring to me. It's very personal. See my office, and it is to see my soul!

When I'm not there, I like to go to the gym where I throw really heavy weights around with women who have become fantastic friends, or do a movie night with my kid. As for inspiration for new books... I try to live with my eyes open, heart first, and stories usually present themselves. I read for several hours a day, both with my kid and on my own, and find that stirs up my creativity too. And if in doubt, I do a paint-by-numbers canvas and listen to an audiobook, or take a massive long walk in the hills with my pal. Basically, living well is the best way to get ideas!

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