Thursday, June 25, 2015

Q&A with Lauri Taylor

Lauri Taylor is the author of the new memoir The Accidental Truth: What My Mother's Murder Investigation Taught Me About Life. She lives in Orange County, California.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about your investigation into what happened to your mother? 

A: After nearly four years of leading my mother’s murder investigation, I brought my findings to San Diego Sheriff’s Office to close the case in 2010.

And although I felt a great sense of relief and closure from knowing the truth, accepting the conclusion and accepting that the hunt was over took some time. I wasn’t ready to let the story go. If I let it go, then Mom was really gone.

Later that year, I began working on an outline and a rough table of contents to determine whether there was enough material for a book.

Three things motivated me to write The Accidental Truth. I had a strong desire to preserve the story for my children and our family. And a great hope that what we learned on our journey would heal other families, therefore giving our loss, meaning and purpose.   

Leading the murder investigation and speaking on my mother’s behalf was an empowering experience for me. In speaking up for her, I found my own voice in the process. The Accidental Truth is the ultimate expression of using that voice to speak my truth, and it is my hope that my story will inspire others to speak theirs, as well. 

Q: Your book deals with some very painful years of your life. How difficult was it to write about and relive that time period? 

A: I would be dishonest if I told you that it was anything less than brutal, at times, to write The Accidental Truth. While living through the difficult events of the book, I was protected somewhat by the fog/filters of shock, sorrow and grief. Those filters were absent when I sat down at the keyboard to write.

I was a bit obsessed with documentation and research. I forced myself to examine and re-examine the physical evidence - autopsy photos, lab reports, every email I had received over the years, for accuracy.

Lauri Taylor's mother, Jane Kling, with her dogs.
In developing Mom’s character for readers, I was also forced to evaluate some painful truths about my upbringing and history with my mother.

But in the end, I can honestly say, the process of writing was difficult, but cathartic, because it helped me to clearly understand and define my own takeaway from my story and ultimately my purpose in writing the book. 

Q: Your family members play a big role in the book. What do they think of it? 

A: Initially when I told my sisters that I would like to write a book, there was some hesitation and fear. It was understandable. We had spent nearly four years of grieving our mother’s death, and when the case was finally closed, we were all ready to begin moving forward with our lives.

My decision to write a book meant that the pain we had lived through would not be laid to rest, and our private story would be put out to the public for inspection and scrutiny.

Lauri Taylor with her mother, daughter, and sisters at a Mother's Day brunch.
To complicate matters further, I had never written a book before and everyone, including me, was not wholly confident in my ability to do so.

Thankfully, after my sisters gave the finished manuscript a read, not only were they comfortable with my writing but they, too, believed in the value of sharing our message. That moment was healing for all of us. 

Q: What do you hope readers take away from your book? 

A: It is my belief that if we live long enough, we will all experience grief and loss of some kind. These difficult experiences can be positively transformative, though.

I learned that I could not change the truth – the truth simply was what it was. Accepting the truth about my mother’s death, and finding purpose and meaning in my loss was healing for me and for my family.

It is my sincere hope that others will find healing and inspiration in the pages of The Accidental Truth. For me, this is the only reason to share such a deeply personal story. 

Q: What are you working on now? 

Lauri Taylor with her mother and her son, Clark, when he was a baby.
A: Book promotion is a full-time job, but I am working on the outline for my next book, a work of fiction, entitled “Context.” I am also collaborating with my FBI profiler-friend, Candice DeLong, on a project, developing an anti-stigma non-profit and a mental health awareness platform. 

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: My mother and I had not spoken for three months when she died, not because of any particular falling out, but simply because our relationship was complicated. I felt enormous guilt and shame that she had died not knowing how thankful I was for all that she had given me in my lifetime.   

Throughout the four years that I spent leading my mother’s murder investigation, I could feel her presence. I knew that she was with me on the journey and that kept me going even when I felt like giving up the search.

The final chapter of my book is called “Death of a Stray,” which speaks to a meaningful encounter I had with a dog. The title also alludes to my mother who was somewhat of a gypsy, never planting deep roots in any one place, during her life.

It is my belief that my mom had a hand in my run-in with the dog on the street. That experience was a highly spiritual and transformational moment for me and allowed me to let go of my staggering guilt and shame.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about The Accidental Truth!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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