BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — In 1983, after flying over half of America's heartland, Amber M. Taylor landed in Arizona. It was August in a most inhospitable desert. The door of the plane opened like it was leading into an oven, and West Virginia was just a memory.
Over 30 years later, Taylor is still in Tucson, but the memories of her childhood in Beckley have made their way into her recently published book, "A Werewolf's Tail." Taylor said that her father's profession was the reason for the move.
"My dad did construction and of course it is kind of hard to be in that business in West Virginia with its different seasons. He lived in California first and Phoenix and then made a little day trip down to Tucson and fell in love with it. My dad was already out here and my mom, me and my brother flew out in August, the hottest month of the year," Taylor said.
Her kinship with the wooded hills of the Mountain State, along with its vast open wilderness areas, made it perfect for the setting of her book.
"I've always been a forest person. Even when we were kids living back there in Beckley, you never found me at home, I was always out in the woods. I just couldn't think of a better place to write about than Beckley.
"My whole family, we've been out in Tucson since '83, but we still consider West Virginia home. We lived in Prosperity when I was really little and then we moved into the Maxwell Hill neighborhood and it was from there that we moved to Tucson."
Her book centers on an adolescent girl who discovers a powerful secret.
"It's about a 15-year-old girl who has lived in West Virginia her whole life and she discovers that she is a werewolf. There's a whole group of them that nobody knows about. They are worldwide but there just happens to be a pack in West Virginia.
"At first I thought about doing the book in Alaska because there are still a lot of forests around, not a lot of people and a lot of open space still, but I know more about Beckley. I know what the people are like, I know specific areas and had experiences there when I was growing up," Taylor said.
"The neighborhood that we grew up in, we lived on Rider Drive over by Maxwell Hill. I use that area a lot. There is a patch of empty land in the shape of a triangle, and that is where we always used to play when we were kids. We had wiffle ball games and kick ball games and that's in this book."
The publishing business is difficult to break into and, according to Taylor, it seems like everyone is writing a book these days.
"I self-published it and put it out in November of last year. I've had a couple of reviews and they have all been good. It's more of a horror story than what I originally intended it to turn into. In the second one, I am making it more humorous with a few dark points. Being a teenager has its horrific moments anyway, no matter what you do."
Taylor said she knew from a young age that she loved writing and her family was very supportive.
"When I was 8 years old I enjoyed writing stories and my brother was the artist. We would do comic books and stuff and my grandparents bought me a typewriter when I was 9 years old. So I have been able to type since then. They have always been really encouraging."
When asked who her top five authors are, she quickly rattled off a list of her favorite paranormal romance and horror authors.
"MaryJanice Davidson, Stephen King, Molly Harper, Craig Spector and John Skipp. I'm also into the paranormal comedy aspect of it," Taylor said. "MaryJanice Davidson, who is my favorite author right now, writes a series about a vampire queen with a shopping addiction and a serious case of ADHD. I can't get enough of it.
"I hope that people like the book and I hope it piques interest for West Virginia. I have always thought West Virginia was really underrated; it's a beautiful state."
Taylor's book "A Werewolf's Tail" is available for sale on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Anyone interested in contacting the author can message her on Facebook at her book site "A Werewolf's Tail" or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com