West Austin News Profile. A really nice profile a bout my book in this week’s edition of the West Austin News. Check it out. And thanks to Forrest Preece, the columnist.

Westside Stories by Forrest Preece, October 18, 2012, West Austin News

Boyd Taylor’s bucket list of what he wanted to do in retirement spanned the globe and more.

To be specific, he desired to spend four or five months in the south of France, take a train trip across Canada and write a novel. Now he’s done all three.

One recent afternoon, we sat down in the Westwood Country Club Taylor Tennis Center, which is named for him, and talked about his life.

He had plenty of good stories, but mostly, we concentrated on the novel he has just published, called “The Hero of San Jacinto.”

I love what his publicist said about his career.

“Although ‘The Hero of San Jacinto’ is Taylor’s first published novel, he has written fiction all his life. He was enrolled in Dr. Gerald Langford’s creative writing course at the University of Texas, who advised him to go to law school. He continued his fiction-writing career as a staff attorney for a major oil company and as an executive writing long range business plans for a large chemical company.”

(I’m not sure about the wording of that last sentence! I’ll leave that one to your imagination. )

Boyd says that yes, he has been a writer since his early days.  He served as the editor of his high school paper in Temple and his junior college paper.

“I might have taken that journalistic path in my career, but once the mother of one of my friends told me, ‘Boyd, you like to argue so much, you should be a lawyer.’”

He says that made a light go off in his head.

As noted above, after taking a creative writing course at UT, and hearing his professor tell him that he should really concentrate on law school, he never looked back.

But he still harbored ambitions to pen a novel. However, “It’s hard to write and have a full time job.”

During his career as a lawyer and corporate executive with Phillips Petroleum and Cabot Corporation, he started a number of stories, but most of them were left unfinished.

“I’d work on stories on airplanes, during vacations or in a few hours of undisturbed time on weekends, but that was about it. I didn’t seriously start writing until I retired and we moved to Lakeway.”

“I wrote a novel out there which I’m afraid wasn’t very good. I had a lot of parts and pieces and character studies which I thought would work. But this is the first time I actually published one — and now I want to see if anyone will read it.”

So did the novel evolve from any particular event he had heard about?

Well, yes and no.

For some background, the novel turns on an incident in which a fictional 28-year-old graduate UT student named Donnie Ray Cuinn who is researching in the state archives happens across a handwritten note composed by Sam Houston.

This note shines a dark light on the history of one Captain Sam Payne, a supposed hero of the battle of San Jacinto.

It turns out that instead of being the valiant war hero he was supposed to have been, Payne was really a lecher and a drunk.

When this fact is published in a story Cuinn does for “This Texas” magazine, Payne’s descendant, Sam Payne V, the pompous and powerful attorney general of Texas who is running for Governor, vows to make life very miserable for him.

Boyd says that yes, there were some events in the book that were based on stories he had heard.

The critical one was a tale about a young man who had been forced into a confrontation with a powerful politician, because of something that a club he was in had done.

“I heard that story and it was the kernel of the plot of the book. Of course, the outcome from the real story was much different from my book’s ending.”

Also, the hotel where much of the action takes place is based on a campus area place which had a woman running it.

“Not exactly like the grandmotherly woman in my book, but it was just the start of the idea.”

Boyd says that the rest of the book is pretty much based on his imagination, but there are some other very obviously references to reality.

For instance, some of the characters in the book are based on prominent Austinites—and long-time Austin residents will get a kick out of deciphering who Boyd is verbally depicting.

For instance, the publisher of “This Texas” is an amalgam of our town’s most prominent magazine magnate and a former multi-term City Councilman and UT System Regent who always had a well-dressed young man helping him get around.

“It started out as a buddy novel, with an experienced guy taking the younger guy under his wing, but as I worked on it, I liked the political part of it and developed it more in that direction. Sometimes the story takes you in a certain way.”

As for literary influences, Boyd points to (of course) “The Gay Place,” Billy Lee Brammer’s quintessential Austin political novel which set the standard for everything that came after.

Also, he has read and absorbed the work of authors like Larry McMurty and Elmore Leonard for dialogue and character development.

“If people don’t talk like that, they should,” he says.

So will be hitting the book tour circuit?

Right now, he is trying to get some local readings organized and there are some online book tours that can be created.

But the readers in Austin are the ones who will be most interested in the book.

Boyd says that the sequel will take Donnie out of Austin to the Texas Panhandle where he gets involved in water rights and drug trafficking.

“I’m about a quarter of the way through.”

As for his home life, Boyd and his wife Katherine live in West Austin now, after residing six years in Lakeway.

While he was out there, he served as the president of the school board, which was a time consuming task indeed.

He has also spent a lot of hours working on the Westwood board and served as its president as well.

“It was time to move back into Austin. I had gotten that sailboat fantasy out of my system. And we were spending so much time in town anyway.”

Boyd says that his wife has been very supportive of his new-found career.

But on that score, he vows that he and his Underwood typewriter will remain in his study, “out of harm’s way.”