Publishers Weekly - January 10, 2011
Inspired by Jason Bourne: PW Talks with Taylor Stevens
By Melissa Mia Hall
Vanessa Michael Munroe, the androgynous hero of Taylor Stevens's thriller debut, The Informationist, has a past that in part reflects the closed, nomadic existence of the author growing up in the Children of God cult.
Photo by Melissa Mia Hall
Before you escaped the Children of God cult, you once had your stories confiscated and burned.
Those in charge just took them and told me they burned them. I ended up being locked away for three days in a room with no food because they wanted to exorcise the devils out of me.
How old were you?
When did you decide to become a writer?
I finally had a chance to read back in the United States. I was about 31. I had two little kids, and I was a stay-at-home mom. It was after reading the Jason Bourne trilogy that I made the decision to write. I wanted to be able to create in others the same emotion, the connection, the excitement that I felt when reading these books. I want to take people places where they've never been before. Robert Ludlum is my hero of writers.
Munroe earns money by turning this skill into something corporations can use to gain a foothold within the uncertain political spectrums of foreign countries. She's an informationist because her world revolves around the acquisition of information, and she will do whatever it takes to get the job done as long as she isn't caught. Munroe isn't based on my childhood, though there are definitely touches of it in her: the abandonment, the having no home to return to, and always being the outsider looking in.
Have you ever met an informationist?
No. I don't even know if they exist or not. I made this up. Isn't that what fiction is?
Why is Munroe androgynous?
Regarding androgyny, I feel that too much of what we experience in life is defined by preconceived ideas. Munroe, as a predator, preys on a preconceived idea to get what she wants, and to her core, she's the type of person, who, even if she wasn't naturally androgynous, would have found a way to be so, simply because it's her nature to become whatever is needed to get what she wants.
In the second novel in the series, working title The Innocent, I go more into the "Chosen" cult of The Informationist. It's based on my life and the Children of God.
What's the most important lesson you've learned?
Focus. Pure, unadulterated focus toward a desired goal. No excuses, no valid reasons, no exceptions.
This article was found at:
Family International a.k.a. Children of God: Once dismissed as 'sex cult,' tiny church launches image makeover
This Is What Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Look Like
A RESPONSE TO JAMES D. CHANCELLOR'S LIFE IN THE FAMILY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD
The Catholic Church and The Family International: popes and prophets who protect pedophiles
What do Pat Robertson and The Family International cult have in common?
Kings and Queens of Cults
Child sacrifice: a review of the documentary All God's Children - the ultimate sacrifice
Miss World 2009 contestant, Miss Indonesia, is a member of evangelical cult with history of child abuse
On eve of Miss World pageant South African paper exposes Miss Indonesia's cult connections
Who is the Real Anti-Christian: the Atheist or the Fundamentalist Christian?
Enslaved by the cult of sex...for 25 years
Castleconnell area was base for child sex cult, claims victim
Violent sexual abuse, brainwashing and neglect: What it's like to grow up in a religious sect
The Making of a Twisted Sexual Theology: Q+A on "Jesus Freaks"
Underside of cult life emerges
The offspring of 'Jesus Freaks'
The Tragic Legacy of the Children of God
Not Without My Sister [book review]
Cult Activity in Uganda?
Cult Claims To Be "Living by the law of love"
Children of God: Haunted By a Dark Past
Child-Custody Deal Favors Escapee of Notorious Cult 'The Family' aka The Children of God
Cambodian NGO exposed as a charity front for The Family International cult
Member of San Francisco pop duo, Girls, is a survivor of notorious Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International
Survivor of abusive Children of God cult, Chris Owens of Girls is one cool musician
Teen died agonizing death from ruptured appendix while parents, relatives and church elders did nothing but pray for 3 days
Self-proclaimed prophets: Phillip Garrido, David Berg and Joseph Smith
Another self-proclaimed prophet who terrorized and sexually abused his cult followers
Child sexual abusers commonly turn to religion to rationalize their behavior
Tony Alamo controls followers from prison, but David Berg controls The Family cult members from the grave
Irish TV exposes cults in Ireland, interviews survivor of abuse in Children of God, now The Family International