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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A posting at Bookshelves of Doom made me look again at the intellectual peregrinations of G. P. Taylor. In 2005 he told the BBC about how concerns about children being attracted to the occult prompted him to write and publish Shadowmancer for children:
“If it wasn’t true that books like Harry Potter, Philip Pullman’s work, Buffy the Vampire Slayer weren’t leading children to the occult, why did the Pagan federation appoint a youth officer to deal with all the inquires from children who wanted to become witches? . . . look in the Buffy books or in some other witch books out at the moment and some of it is genuine stuff…”
For his British audience Taylor rejected the idea that he wrote “to promote the Christian agenda.” However, in 2007 he offered the American public an open letter that claimed:
The reason why I wrote the book and all the others in the series was because of one man and the damage that his books were likely to do to the Christian Church.
I dissected the discrepancies in that letter back here.

Already, however, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series was becoming a huge hit, with the Breaking Dawn volume winning a 2008 British Book Award. So what did Taylor do? As he just told the BBC:
“I was going to a lot of schools, I was seeing what kids were writing, and I just thought this is what children want to read,” he said. “So I wrote a book about vampires which was very dark and scary and realistic…”
So much for worries about Buffy! Within a span of ten months in 2010-11 Taylor published three volumes of the Vampyre Labyrinth series.

In October 2010, in the midst of his marketing campaign, Taylor told the Yorkshire Post that he was “having to keep the details of a nationwide school tour secret, for fear of lobbying from Evangelical Christians”:
“I am about to embark on a school tour and talk to 20,000 children. . . . I am concerned that there is a real threat that some people may start lobbying bookshops and schools to stop children buying the book. . . . The book has recently earned the title ‘the most terrifying children’s book ever written’. Many people are saying that it is far too frightening and that children should be warned before opening the pages.”
In fact, a search for the phrase “most terrifying children’s book ever written” doesn’t produce a single Google hit independent of this article. But that complaint about “a real threat” from religious zealots gained Taylor a little press in the UK. (He had made similar claims of “an insidious hate campaign” four years before, except then the undocumented threat was supposedly from anti-religious zealots.)

A year and a half later, and the latest voice to join the chorus against the Vampyre Labyrinth books is—oh, come on, you saw this coming!—G. P. Taylor. In his recent BBC conversation he declared:
“I wrote the Vampyre Labyrinth, it came out, I hadn’t really read it when I wrote the book, and people who were reading it and reviewing it were saying this is the most frightening thing that has ever been written for kids,” said Taylor. ”I have changed my mind: I think children’s literature has gone too far.”
So G. P. Taylor has now come out against a book that he himself wrote. But didn’t really read. Because it went too far. Or so he’s been told. And he’s happy to use the radio to proclaim his own book as “the most frightening thing that has ever been written for kids.” While also positioning himself as a proponent of traditional values.

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