Barbara J. Taylor
Barbara J. Taylor lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania, home of the second-largest St.Patrick’s Day parade in the country. She has an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University and teaches English in the Pocono Mountain School District. All Waiting Is Long is the sequel to her debut novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, named a “Best Book of Summer 2014” by Publishers Weekly.
Barbara J. Taylor on Writing All Waiting Is Long
I wrote All Waiting Is Long because I was curious to see how the tragedy in my first novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, affected my characters over time, particularly Violet, who was eight years old when her sister’s accident occurred. All Waiting Is Long opens in 1930, and Violet is twenty-five. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night was loosely based on the death of my great-aunt Pearl. On the day of her baptism, she and her friends were playing with sparklers when Pearl’s dress caught on fire. Her younger sister Janet witnessed the accident, and though she lived into her eighties, she didn’t have the happiest life. I always wondered how much of that stemmed from what she saw that day.
While I can’t answer that question for Janet, I decided to do the next best thing—answer it for my character, Violet, who was with her sister during a similar accident.
As soon as I knew what question I wanted to explore, I started researching the 1920s and ’30s. Along the way, I came across materials advocating “practical eugenics” in America. Medical books focused on “social hygiene,” recommending such ideas as “Eugenic Marriage Licenses” and “Sterilization of the Unfit.” Country fairs held “Fitter Family Contests,” selecting winners based on animal breeding principles, and the American Eugenics Society sponsored sermon competitions, encouraging clergymen to promote the movement through scripture. Much of this material inspired a secondary story line in All Waiting Is Long.
—Barbara J. Taylor