Hello there, I’m Taya Okerlund, wife, mom, former cog in the federal government…story scribbler.
I set off for a year long Taiwan odyssey as a teen, dropping out of high school in the process. (I ended up graduating from university later on. I’m no Bill Gates). After college, I went to law school, but it turned out I was even less suited to the law than I was to high school.
I learned Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan and then studied it in Shanghai, PRC. Between engagements, I served an eighteen-month proselytizing mission for the Mormon Church in Fukuoka, Japan.
I straighten up and spent several years in service for the federal government, but I’ve been at home with my daughter since she came along two years ago. I began writing Hurricane Coltrane shortly after her birth.
How it started…
I set aside a manuscript I’d been sweating over for years to write HURRICANE COLTRANE. My narrating character, Merrill Hinton, elbowed his way in and what a blabber-mouth! He dictated the entire story whilst I sat in my chair, fingers racing over the keyboard. I like to say the book moved in like the storm it was named for and poured creative fuel. I had never experienced anything like it; it was such a thrill! I’m not getting the same help now, unfortunately, but don’t count me out for a second novel!
I queried and found a small press in Salt Lake City that really loved my story. I had good feedback from readers and agents to whom I’d cold submitted, but ultimately went with WiDo Publishing because I felt they understood me, my story and would offer me room to develop.
Publicizing is a much tougher game. While working for the US government, the word was discretion. I had a near vacuum of social media presence going into this–as in black hole–as in secret squirrel. I think I still have fewer than 5 followers on Twitter. I’m staunchly introverted anyway, so I don’t like to go about splashing confetti and bugling “look at me!” You better believe I am doing it, but it’s not stylish. No, not stylish. Not until you, Chris, the Story Reading Ape, of course.
Now HURRICANE COLTRANE is about to hit stores and I’m taking a big breath and crossing my fingers. I love this book and hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Merrill Hinton is a lightning rod in a town named for bad weather. He’s an ace in math, but not smart enough to put together the pieces of his puzzling life, especially where finding his unknown father is concerned.
Musical genius Robbie Stubbs was born in nearby polygamist compound Colorado City. He has the chops to become another John Coltrane, but that will take running away from home, and into a firestorm of controversy–the kind his friend Merrill knows best.
Merrill sets Robbie onto a course that could rocket them both onto center stage, but being the focus of wide public attention will create serious issues. Robbie’s mother is not well, and the shock of her son breaking the family rules like this may put her over the edge.
And Merrill Hinton? His precarious future will be compromised in ways he doesn’t yet realize.