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  • bobtaylor2532

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

People sometimes ask which authors have influenced me. I'm not sure how to answer the question other than to list my favorite books and authors. To the extent that I loved these books, I guess you can say that they influenced me, consciously or subconsciously.

As a child, I loved mystery stories such as Franklin Dixon’s series, The Hardy Boys. I haven't written any mystery stories, though, so I can't say that Dixon influenced me, other than to stimulate my interest in reading. Another childhood favorite was Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which I read many times and read again to my own boys when they were young.

In my early and mid-teens, I read a number of historical novels (authors A.B. Guthrie, Thomas Costain, and Kenneth Roberts, among others). While I haven't written any historical novels, these writers certainly showed me how to write a great story.

By my late teens, I had graduated to literary fiction, including novels by the American novelists Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Henry James, Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner, among others. In my 20’s, I began reading world literature, including novels by George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll (well, I started reading Dickens and Carroll a little earlier), Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I have also read half-a-dozen Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth along with many of Shakespeare's sonnets. I mention the tragedies by name because those are the ones I like the most. I don't really get the comedies, and I have not yet read any of the histories. Among his sonnets, number 29 ("When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes...") is far and away my favorite; in fact, at one time, I memorized it. King Lear is the next Shakespeare work on my to-read list.

Readers may be surprised to learn that I read very little science fiction, other than Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, until a few years ago. After retiring in 2018, I read several science-fiction classics from the 20th century including George Orwell’s 1984, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (part historical novel and part science fiction, strangely enough), and Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot.

I have always read a fair amount of non-fiction and enjoy biographies and autobiographies in particular. John Burk's The Life and Works of Beethoven, Arthur Schlesinger's Robert Kennedy and His Times, and Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theordore Roosevelt are my favorite biographies. My favorite autobiographies or memoirs include The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; Dr. An Wang's Lessons; Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume One; Ansel Adams's Ansel Adams: An Autobiography; Diana Ross's Secrets of a Sparrow ; and Megyn Kelly's Settle for More. I am also a great admirer of Henry David Thoreau and used Civil Disobedience as the basis for my commencement address when I graduated from high school in 1963. Two non-fiction books that inspired me to include the impact of the human population in The First Robot President are The Population Explosion by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, which I read after I retired, and Al Gore's Our Choice, which I read in 2009 or 2010 soon after it was published. I included Paul and Anne Ehrlich in the Dedication of The First Robot President; and I mentioned Our Choice, along with two of Gore's other books, in Chapter 4. I also enjoy poetry, and my favorite poets are A. E. Housman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edwin Arlington Robinson.

I have probably omitted a book or an author from this list that I will think about later and wish I had included, but I believe the list is comprehensive enough to answer the question.

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  • bobtaylor2532

Anyone who purchased an earlier edition of The First Robot President will surely attest that it was beautifully designed. Tracy Atkins of The Book Makers designed the interior of the first and second editions, published in 2020, and set them in Times New Roman at my request. For the third edition, which I designed myself, I chose Baskerville Old Face; and for this edition, which I also designed, I selected Palatino Linotype. There is no other material difference between the third and fourth editions.

When I listened to the audiobook version of the novel, which was published in August 2021, I realized that Chapter 11, “Transition of Power” was too long; therefore, beginning with the third edition, I split it into three separate chapters, “Transition of Power,” “The Birth Lottery,” and “Geneva.” “Murphy’s Law,” formerly Chapter 12, is now Chapter 14. I made no material changes to the content of any of these chapters, nor did I do so elsewhere in the novel. However, I couldn’t resist the temptation to add another line of dialog to the exchange between Geraldine and the King of England in the first section of what is now Chapter 12. I also changed two references to Lockheed Martin in Chapter 8 to General Google Motors to be consistent with the storyline; and finally, I corrected a few remaining typographical errors that I overlooked in preparing the second edition.

I tip my hat to Mr. Atkins for laying the foundation of a beautifully designed book; and I hope that readers who, like me, enjoy owning the books they read will treasure it regardless of which edition they purchased.

Robert Carlyle Taylor

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  • bobtaylor2532

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

The idea for The First Robot President occurred to me a few years ago before I retired. I was actually putting notes down on paper for a different book, yet to be written, when it dawned on me that someday robots will be nearly indistinguishable from human beings; and taking that thought one step further, a robot might one day blend into society so perfectly that it will be able to be or do anything a human being can be or do. You know where the story goes from there!

If you read my bio, you know that I retired in 2018; and by then, I had several notepads filled with scenes for this novel. Indeed, I had so much material on paper that I thought I would be able to write the novel in six months, max, and publish it the same year. Well, you know how that goes. Aside from having to tackle tasks I had put on the back burner while I was working, the process of writing a novel turned out to be more challenging than I remembered. (I had written two novels, never published, before I turned twenty-one.) My tastes in reading had also changed over the years; rather than reading novels, I had mostly read biographies and other non-fiction books in the years prior to my retirement. I guess the word that best describes my novel-writing skill level in January 2018 would be "rusty."

To get myself up-to-speed, I reread The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White; ordered the latest edition of Andrea Lunsford's EasyWriter (a truly great reference book, by the way); purchased a course from The Great Courses called How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman; and found inspiration in Stephen King's On Writing. (If Mr. King ever reads my novel, he will be disappointed with my decision to use the word "curiously" on page one; he advises would-be novelists to avoid using adverbs.)

After getting some urgent matters out of the way (retirement papers, my Social Security application, and so on), I finally got started on the novel in April 2018 and wrote the first few chapters before the end of the year. Throughout 2018 and 2019, I experienced numerous interruptions and had to put the novel aside for weeks at a time; then, finally, in mid-August 2019, I decided to focus on finishing it, writing a few hours each day. I completed the novel itself in February 2020 and finished the afterword in March; then I submitted it to Tracy Atkins at The Book Maker to make it look like a real book. I also found an artist by the name of Tanja Prokop, a colleague of Tracy's, at Book Design Templates, and she agreed to do the cover for me. I think you will agree that the cover and the interior of the book both turned out great.

My niece, Brenda Ernst, volunteered to do an audiobook for me and has already started work on it. I am sure it will be terrific. Look for it on Amazon and other online retailers later this year.

What's next for me? Well, I do have at least one other idea for a work of fiction. It won't be a sequel to The First Robot President ; it will be an altogether different book. But I don't plan to start working on it this year. For one thing, I have quite a list of books I want to read -- some of which I have never read and others of which I enjoyed years ago and want to reread. I will share some of my reading experiences on this blog over the course of the year if I see there is any interest.

Thanks very much for visiting my website and taking the time to read my first blog. If you have any comments, you can reach me by means of the Contact page on this site.

Robert Carlyle Taylor

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