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Saturday 10 October 2015

Author of gay teenage fiction William Taylor, dies

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 9th October 2015

An icon of New Zealand literature, William Taylor, passed away last week in Taumarunui Hospital, aged 77.

Taylor published more than 40 books including three novels that focused on the teenage struggle to come to terms with sexuality; Jerome, The Blue Lawn and Pebble in a Pool.

The Blue Lawn was Taylor first gay teenage fiction novel, released in 1999. The novel is centred on the story of a teenage boy who acknowledges his attraction to an older rugby teammate and challenges the perceptions of those around him. The novel was selected for the prestigious New York Public Library's Books for the Teenage List and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Soon after we had the pleasure of a second novel Jerome, about two teenage boys trying to cope with the suicide of a close friend, and  discovering new aspects of themselves, their friendship, and their relationships with other people.

In 2003 Taylor released the novel Pebble in a Pool about the deaths of two students, one as the result of a gay bashing. The outpouring of grief is starkly contrasted with the muted response to the hate crime, causing one teenage boy to speak out. Coming to terms with his own sexuality and his relationship to a schoolmate, the novel is brimming with emotion, humour, and humanity, and is bravely unsentimental in its treatment of both young men.

In 2004 Taylor was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), for services to literature and the community.

Taylor’s literary honours included Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for lifetime achievement, and the AIM Children's Book Awards.

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