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Debbie A. Taylor (1955–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1955, in OH; Ethnicity: "African American." Education: Case Western Reserve University, B.A. (English), 1980; Cleveland State University, M.A. (English), 1991. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, kite-making, museums, botanical gardens, zoos.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Lee &Low Books, 95 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.


Writer and placement officer. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in office of Career Planning and Placement, 1992–97, part of graduate experience project, 1997–2000, recruitment coordinator, 2000–01, director of women in Engineering program, 2002–. Cleveland Children's Museum, assistant manager of volunteers; formerly worked as a preschool teacher. Family Book Club, member of board; Matthaei Botanical Garden, member of education committee.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Author's Guild, Authors League.


Sweet Music in Harlem, illustrated by Frank Morrison, Lee &Low Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Cricket, Spider, Pockets, New Moon, and Whiskey Island, and to professional journals Careers and the Minority Under-Debbie A. Taylorgraduate, Diversity Careers in Engineering and Information Technology, and Journal of Career Planning and Placement.

Work in Progress

Vine Street Basketball, Slip through the Dark Woods, Elzada Clover/Lois Jotter, and Idlewild, Michigan.


Debbie A. Taylor told SATA: "Of course every writer's process is unique, but I suppose for many, the research would come before the writing, or in tandem. On some projects, and with Sweet Music in Harlem in particular, I put the cart before the horse. For that picture book, the plot emerged before I conducted the research. I actually wrote the story a year before I could identify more than a few people in the photograph. Only later did I learn of the historical significance of the photograph and the real story behind that picture.

"For me, a story idea may be triggered by a location, phrase, song lyrics or as in Sweet Music in Harlem, a photograph. In general, I write most freely when I simply scribble down the whole story and focus on structure first. Then I return multiple times to revise specific sections. I create a 'dummy book' from folded construction paper. Later I solicit feedback by sharing it with other writers and young readers.

"I hope to always write an interesting story that features engaging language. I hope my books will encourage readers to appreciate family, friends and community. I want readers to consider how they could and should interact with others. I want my characters to encourage readers to solve problems, make decisions, and make the best of any situation. Hopefully, the stories will contribute to a reader's resourcefulness.

"In Sweet Music in Harlem I set out to tell a story about a youngster who searches for his uncle's lost possession. I knew it would be a quest tale. Then, of course, as often happens, the story took over. The character's story grew into a tribute to family, to the fine musicians in the photograph and to the great photographer Art Kane.

"Read widely. Read dozens and dozens of books in the genre to which you hope to contribute. Invest time in With a journalist coming to photograph jazz trumpeter Uncle Click, young C.J. goes on a hunt through the neighborhood, searching for the noted musician's misplaced lucky hat in Taylor's Sweet Music in Harlem. (Illustration by Frank Morrison.)developing your craft by taking courses and joining a supportive and honest critique group. As you write, stay open to new directions of the story. Approach each project with openness and anticipation so you can enjoy the process."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2004, Vance Garcia, review of Sweet Music in Harlem, p. 59.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Sweet Music in Harlem, p. 402.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 2004, review of Sweet Music in Harlem, p. 61.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Jane Marino, review of Sweet Music in Harlem, p. 89.


Debbie A. Taylor Home Page, http://www.sweetmusicinharlem.com (April 15, 2006).

Additional topics

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