What was the inspiration behind this book?
I was writing a piece for an architecture magazine and I was interviewing an old apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright’s down in Arizona. In a gentlemanly sort of way, he revealed this hidden gay culture of the young architectural apprentices. It stayed with me – his impressions. A couple of years later, I had this desire to create a lush, epic sort of gay story set in a romantic age. I happened to be working on another article about Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and thought that was the perfect setting. The three ideas sort of mashed into my brain and Exposition is the product of that inspiration.What kind of research did you have to do for it?
I just came off digging around for the article I was writing about the Chicago fair, so I already laid the groundwork, but I had to do extensive research into gay relationships in the Victorian era. I also love to insert little bits and pieces of history into the story and the research took me all sorts of directions. For example, the bicycle was just invented and many feminists believe the fact that women had to uncorset themselves to ride it led in part to the liberation movement of the time. Who knew? I had to incorporate that idea. As the book was coming together, the night before I would write a scene, I did extra research on things for accuracy. Even the cocktails served at parties are authentic to the time.How much do you have in common with Benjamin, the main character?
Benjamin is on a process of discovering his inner truth. We all are on that same journey, myself included. I grew up not too long ago when it seemed the world of my childhood was closer to that of Benjamin’s. For gay people, because many of us were brought up in a world where the context for how we love was derided, finding our own inner truth can be a more complicated and painful journey.How often do you think stories like this happened in real life during the Victorian Age?
I think I was also able to channel my passion for architecture into Benjamin. I wanted to express how thrilling it can be to walk into a space that just makes your heart sing. As gay architect Philip Johnson used to say, “Good architecture gives you a good feeling in the tummy.” That it does! Benjamin revels in it as do I.
From my research, in aristocratic circles there was a certain acknowledgement of gay activity amongst married men. Of course, Oscar Wilde’s trial in 1895 laid bare the dealings of this culture in a way which seemed to have created more intolerance. It seemed up until then, for the latter period of the 1800’s anyway, in the wealthy class, people knew these ‘indiscretions’ occurred, but they let them continue sometimes only with an arched eyebrow. I think of Abraham Lincoln some forty years before this story takes place sleeping with his body guard for months on end. (There is only speculation as to the physical nature of their arrangement. The facts are lost to time.) At any rate, Lincoln’s acquaintances gossiped about it, but nothing broke open in a scandalous, public sort of way.What is one of your favorite scenes in this book?
There is one scene where Benjamin finishes a sumptuous dinner with his family and the Van Burens and he leaves their company afterwards and visits Spencer Bowles at his place for the first time. Benjamin realizes Spencer has taken a room in the back of a brothel. Benjamin is uncomfortable entering such an establishment, but when he and Spencer are alone, they share their passions and dreams. Then a while later, Benjamin feels what true affection is like for the first time. Benjamin is so out of his element in the brothel, yet he is captivated by Spencer, he can’t stay away. He must be with him.What drives you as a writer?
I can’t write something that is without meaning. Each of the three novels I’ve written, Exposition, Billion Dollar Dreamer and coming up, Wildflower – there was some nugget of passion which propelled me to write. When I wrote Billion Dollar Dreamer, I wanted to respond at the time to the theme in our culture that gay people can’t be patriotic and love our country. For Exposition, I wanted to create a character struggling to love in a true way. Wildflower is about a real-life drag queen, Barbette, from Round Rock, Texas who rose to fame in Europe in the Roaring Twenties. His life is so improbable and gritty, it shows the true strength of the gay experience.What is some of the best writing advice you have ever received?
My grandmother used to say, “We’ve heard it all before. Tell us a good story.” Her words reverberate in my heart.Please tell us about your other published work.
My first novel was Billion Dollar Dreamer. It’s a gay comedy/romance about a high school history teacher who inherits a billion dollar fortune and wants to renovate the SS United States ocean liner which is derelict and rusting away in Philadelphia Harbor. He falls in love in the midst of the reno. There’s lots of twists and silliness. I whipped up a trailer for it just for your readers – here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuWyCUp7YBsOn what other projects are you currently working?
I just finished the manuscript for my next novel – Wildflower: The Dramatic Life of Barbette – Round Rock’s First and Greatest Drag Queen. It’s based on the real life of a Vander Clyde Broadway who grew up in Round Rock, Texas, during the turn of the last century. He went on to create a scandalous trapeze/high wire drag act that caused a sensation during the Roaring Twenties in Europe. He later collaborated with Orson Welles, Cole Porter, Vincent Minnelli, Judy Garland and was a consultant for Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon for Some Like It Hot. I’m shopping for a publisher right now.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
Writing is only a second job and hobby for me. I have to write in the off hours after my day job.Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to thank you for inviting me to stop on by today! For your readers, I hope you enjoy Exposition! Here -- I worked up a trailer for you for that one too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xvW01V732E
Thank you for buying my books! I wish y’all a happy and healthy holiday season!Thank you so much for your time!
by Kyle Taylor
Meet Benjamin Wyatt, a handsome young architect helping create the magnificent 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. While immersed in work at the famous architectural firm of Burnham and Root, Benjamin’s pugnacious, social climbing father, Walter Wyatt, pushes him to marry the stunningly beautiful debutante, Evelyn Van Buren—thus securing the family’s position in Chicago society. Yet, when Benjamin meets the cocky young electrical engineer, Spencer Bowles, who is also working on the fair, his world and its ambitions are forever shattered.
Set amidst the opulent splendor of Chicago in the late Victorian Age, Benjamin Wyatt must confront the perils of accepting his own true love and risk destroying everything he worked so hard to achieve. Meticulously researched and filled with lush images of the Gilded Age, Exposition, tells the epic story of a love that dare not speak its name…
Read an exclusive excerpt!
Their two bodies entwined in rapturous passion. The intensity of the experience emboldened each to advance their innermost desires and push each other further. Lost amidst each other’s affections, they became one, forgetting time and place, floating in transcendent bliss. It was like nothing either had felt before …
“Hey you goats! Keep your traps shut!” came the high pitched voice from the other side of the door. “You’re upsetting my clientele!” Madam Cleo shouted to Spencer and Benjamin as she pounded on the door to Spencer’s shabby, rented room in the back hall of her business establishment. “They don’t wanna hear a couple of mandrakes grinding! Don’t make me have to throw you out on your ear!”
With the moment ruined, Spencer and Benjamin uncoupled on Spencer’s single bed. Both exhaled heavily. They lay together side by side. Spencer started to laugh while Benjamin was silent and turned away from Spencer. Spencer, who lay closer to the window with the drawn shade, looked over at Benjamin.
“You don’t take her so seriously?” he asked Benjamin, wrapping his arm around Benjamin’s waist, pressing his front into Ben’s back.
“She called us mandrakes.”
“Yeah, she sure as hell did.” Benjamin was silent. He felt Spencer’s body next to his, entwined in his. It felt so right for him. He savored being with Spencer. He treasured the time they spent together. Spencer made him laugh and feel at ease. There was something so utterly captivating about Spencer. Benjamin felt their encounters gave him power and strength. Yet, he was disturbed by Madam Cleo’s comment.
“I guess I never thought of myself as one of those.”
“Mandrake?” Spencer uncoupled from Benjamin and stared up at the ceiling from his little wedge of the space on the narrow bed. “I can’t think of when I didn’t consider myself one,” Spencer said.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kyle Taylor is the author of both Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. The Kyle Taylor character debuted in Billion Dollar Dreamer as a journalist who was assigned to write a story about high school history teacher cum overnight billionaire John Driskil. Kyle has begun his next book, tentatively titled Wildflower. He resides in New York -- and of course he is a work of fiction!
Author Web Page: www.billiondollardreamer.com