Zen for Ten 31: Stranger, Father, Beloved

Today’s guest on the Storytelling and Sound series is Taylor Larsen. Taylor’s debut novel Stranger, Father, Beloved was released July 2016 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. It was chosen as one of Huffington Post‘s Hottest Reads of the Summer for 2017, one of the New York Post‘s Summer Must Reads, and one of Ploughshares‘s Best Books of the Summer.

Taylor and I met at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops in the summer of 2017, and collaborated on a combination performance and reading, in which we paired sections of her novel with short piano pieces I performed. That collaboration inspired the Storytelling and Sound blog, and I’m delighted to feature Taylor and her luminous and beautiful novel today.

Stranger, Father, Beloved has elements in common with my own To Love A Stranger: both are stories about personal identity, the struggle for self-acceptance, and the ways in which our secrets affect the people we love most. The common themes in our work made it doubly fun for me to collaborate with Taylor. I paired an excerpt from the first chapter of her book with three short pieces by Frederic Chopin: Preludes in E minor, B minor, and A Major, respectively. The lyrical, atmospheric writing made Chopin a clear choice for musical accompaniment. I love this particular passage from Taylor’s novel as it speaks so directly and honestly to the effects of chronic anxiety, and how the outdoors can provide healing and relief.

Enjoy the video, and learn more below about Taylor and her brilliant debut novel. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

About Stranger, Father, Beloved

When Michael James sees his wife Nancy chatting with a stranger at a party, his intuition tells him that he’s watching her with the man she should have married. He quickly begins a campaign to replace himself within his own family with this other man—who, to him, is worthier, better, and kinder—all so his faithful wife Nancy, his beautiful teenage daughter Ryan, and his young son Max can live the lives they deserve.

While Michael pursues this man’s friendship, Ryan goes through a period of sexual awakening and rebellion and distances herself from her family, and the quiet, weak Nancy becomes increasingly befuddled and frustrated by the behaviors of her husband and daughter. As tension and uncertainty build in their home, the James family slowly unravels.

About Taylor: 

Taylor Larsen Head shot 3

Taylor Larsen is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction writing. Taylor has taught fiction writing at Columbia University (as part of CAT) as well as literature courses for Pace University. She currently teaches and does manuscript consulting for The Sackett Street Writers Workshop and Catapult. Taylor is an author at Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for her novel, Stranger, Father, Beloved, which released in July of 2016. She is a co-editor for the literary website, The Negatives.  Her stories have appeared in Joyland and Windmill: The Hofstra Journal of Literature & Art. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington PostBustleLiterary HubThe Negatives, and Women Writers, Women’s Books. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Taylor currently resides with her family outside of NYC.

Connect with Taylor online:



Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

Readers! Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!


Zen for Ten 30: Fall In One Day

Today’s guest on the Storytelling and Sound series is Craig Terlson, whose novel Fall In One Day was released May 2017 by my own publisher, Blue Moon Publishers, and has received a terrific reception. In this week’s video, I’m reading a short excerpt from the novel and have paired it with J. S. Bach’s Sinfonia in G minor, No. 11.

About Fall In One Day:

In the summer of 1973, fifteen-year-old Joe Beck lives in a small Canadian city near the U.S. border where he watches dark-suited politicians lie on TV during something called Watergate. So when his best friend Brian goes missing, Joe has a hard time believing that adults ever tell the truth.

Joe learns that Brian left town with his father after Brian’s mother ended up in the hospital. He listens to the news reports for information, but nothing is being said. Eventually, Joe launches his own investigation, using a tape recorder—just like the American president—to help sift through the clues. Feeling that everything is up to him, Joe embarks on a perilous and enlightening journey to decipher a mental institution diary full of secrets about a drug called LSD, and uncover the truth about Brian’s father and save his best friend.

What the critics think:

“Veteran storyteller and local illustrator Craig Terlson’s debut novel is a triumph. Set in the 1970s during the Watergate trials, Fall in One Day is a sharp and insightful coming-of-age story that beautifully examines perception, reality, and what happens to us when everything falls apart.”

– Winnipeg Free Press

“Mystery, conspiracy, overcoming apparently insurmountable obstacles, a cast of believable and likeable characters, and a good dash of humour–all in a Canadian setting–these are the ingredients of Fall in One Day, and the result is a book which engages its readers on many levels and is a most satisfying read. Highly Recommended.”

– CM: Canadian Review of Materials

About Craig Terlson:

Craig_Terlson headshot
Craig Terlson‘s fiction has appeared in Carve, Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, and many other literary journals in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa. He is the author of the novels Correction Line, Surf City Acid Drop, and the story collection, Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry. With Fall in One Day, he brings his quirky, dark sense of humour and an ear for the dialogue he heard growing up on the Canadian prairies. His prose possesses a cinematic quality and an eye for detail stemming from his years as a professional illustrator for clients across North America.

Find Craig on the Web:

Twitter: @cterlson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/craig.terlson?fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2780244.Craig_Terlson


Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

Readers! Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!