Kyle will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and as a special prize, Kyle's previous book, Billion Dollar Dreamer , will be given away free on Amazon the last day of the tour.
by Kyle Taylor
Meet Benjamin Wyatt, a handsome young architect helping create the magnificent 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. While immersed in work at the famous architectural firm of Burnham and Root, Benjamin’s pugnacious, social climbing father, Walter Wyatt, pushes him to marry the stunningly beautiful debutante, Evelyn Van Buren—thus securing the family’s position in Chicago society. Yet, when Benjamin meets the cocky young electrical engineer, Spencer Bowles, who is also working on the fair, his world and its ambitions are forever shattered.
Set amidst the opulent splendor of Chicago in the late Victorian Age, Benjamin Wyatt must confront the perils of accepting his own true love and risk destroying everything he worked so hard to achieve. Meticulously researched and filled with lush images of the Gilded Age, Exposition, tells the epic story of a love that dare not speak its name…
“I have worked, I have schemed and I have dreamed to make us the greatest architects in the world. I have made him see it and kept him at it—and now he dies—damn! Damn! Damn!” Daniel Burnham called out, rebuking supernatural powers in a sheer force of will demanding they relinquish his beloved business partner, John Wellborn Root. Burnham was summoned to John Root’s luxurious, self-designed, Astor Street mansion by Root’s wife, Dora.
Burnham paced the hand-woven, oriental rug of the opulent living room in a shocked daze not minding who witnessed his muttering rage. On this frigid night of January 15, 1891, John Wellborn Root, whom many considered the greatest living American architect, died of pneumonia, only in his forty first year.
Earlier in the day, Burnham hosted the American elite of architects at the prestigious Chicago firm he and Root opened some nineteen years prior. The task before these great minds was to construct the most spectacular exposition the world had ever witnessed on the barren, southern, Chicago shores along Lake Michigan, in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the New World….
As the doctor left the Root home on Astor Street and the servants awaited the arrival of the horse drawn, undertaker’s carriage to make way on the snow swept cobbled Chicago streets, Daniel Burnham, as one of Root’s family members recalled, “shook his fist and cursed the murderous fates as he paced back and forth between intervals of comfortless sleep on the living room couch.” It finally looked as if Daniel Burnham met a tiger he could not slay.
1. What or who inspired you to start writing?
I felt inside me this intense desire to release something inside - this manic sort of creative energy. No matter if the perspective was imperfect, I had to write stories.
2. How did you come up with ideas for your books?
I need to feel passionate about the topic in some sort of way. For my first novel, Billion Dollar Dreamer, I was so upset that the ocean liner, the SS United States was going to be scrapped, I had to write a zany novel about saving it - but the book was also a statement that one can be gay and love America and that dreams are important.
For Exposition, I wanted to write this lush, epic gay love story set in the Gilded Age. In my mind, I kept thinking about the The Age of Innocence. Even though the plots are very different, I wanted this story to have those sumptuous qualities and tell a gay love story amidst the backdrop of the spectacular Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
3. What components are necessary for the genre of this novel?
I don’t know if it is said very often, but the main characters have to care for one another. It can’t be only physical - there has so be a deeper connection. Young architect Benjamin Wyatt and electrical engineer Spencer Bowles have that sort of connection.
I think for historical fiction the author has to think very visually -- paint a mental picture for the reader of what the world is like during the particular time. But you can’t do too much, because it becomes too weighted down.
4. What expertise did you bring to your writing?
I write for an architectural magazine. It is an incredibly disciplined sort of writing which involves explaining very technical and spatial elements. I think this type of writing helps me explain complicated stuff in a simpler way. So Kyle Taylor books will have this layer of extra detail which will interest the reader.
5. What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?
Kyle Taylor is my pen name. The character of Kyle Taylor was featured in my first novel, Billion Dollar Dreamer. Maybe I studied neoplatonic thought too much, but using a pen name and placing the writer in a fictitious story, is a wonderful way to blur the lines of what is reality and what is fiction. Plato abhorred images because he couldn’t find truth in them. Our present culture is all images, so why not let Kyle be an image as well? Is there truth in the images? Maybe this is where Plato erred. Maybe there is far more meaning in images than he could ever have imagined.
6. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
I just finished my next manuscript. It is a gay historical fiction novel called, Wildflower: The Dramatic Life of Barbette -- Round Rock’s First and Greatest Drag Queen. It is based on the real life of a sensational drag queen aerialist, Barbette, whose aerialist drag act scandalized Europe during the Roaring Twenties. It is a moving, gritty story for sure.
7. If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
I would be John Driskil, the main character from Billion Dollar Dreamer -- who wouldn’t want to inherit a multi-billion dollar fortune?... I would be writing this from my own private island! haha!
- Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Exposition had a strict outline. There is a plot and subplot that intertwine, so I needed to map things out scene by scene. For Wildflower, my structure was looser -- or let’s say I thought I had a decent outline, but then I realized I needed to add scenes as I went along. Wildflower follows the life of a person, so there was already this sort of built in timeline.
- Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you've gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?
Exposition is loaded with all sorts of personal interests. I love architecture so much, it was fun to incorporate so many different historical buildings in the work. Also, Benjamin’s fiancé, Evelyn, is an avid gardener – guess who also has a rose garden?
- Do you have any family traditions or recipes you might like to share?
Since we’re all about to never eat trans fat again, let me share this shamefully delicious dessert recipe with you. (Trust me, you would rather die with a piece of this in your mouth than suffer dementia in a nursing home for ten years!)
Mom’s Half-Way Cookies
1/2 CUP CRISCO
1/2 CUP MARGARINE
1/2 CUP SUGAR
1/2 CUP BROWN SUGAR
2 EGG YOLKS
1 TBSP WATER
1 TSP VANILLA
1/4 TSP BAKING SODA
2 CUPS FLOUR
1/4 TSP SALT
1 TSP BAKING POWDER
6 OZ CHOCOLATE CHIPS
2 EGG WHITES
CREAM FIRST 4 INGREDIENTS; ADD YOLKS, WATER AND VANILLA AND BLEND. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS. DOUGH IS VERY STIFF. PAT OUT ON GREASED 13 X9 CAKE PAN AND SPRINKLE CHOCOLATE CHIPS ON TOP. BEFORE BAKING MAKE MERINGUE: BEAT EGG WHITES STIFF, GRADUALLY ADD SUGAR AND SPREAD ON TOP OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
BAKE AT 350 DEGREES 20-25 MINUTES. COOL AND CUT INTO SQUARES.
- What is your favorite reality show?
I’m a total sucker for shows like Master Chef and the Next Great Baker. I’m a Netflix binge-watcher of these types of shows.
The hero of Exposition, Benjamin Wyatt, thinks he has it all figured out – how he can carry on this double life and make it all work, but he has to confront who he really is honestly. It is very painful for him, but it also frees him.
12. If you were a casting director for the film version of your book, who would play your lead roles?
If it were made twenty years ago, Tom Cruise would be Benjamin Wyatt and his lover, Spencer Bowles, would have to be played by Brad Pitt.
13. Anything else you might want to add?
What’s left? I gave you a sacred family recipe for god’s sake! Now go buy the book and bake some cookies!
Kyle Taylor is the author of both Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil. Kyle has begun his next book, tentatively titled Wildflower. He resides in New York -- and of course he is a work of fiction!
Author Web Page: www.billiondollardreamer.com