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ABOUT

David Taylor

As a writer who crafts character-driven narratives that explore history, science and culture in unexpected paths, I love collaborating with creative partners in storytelling. The mediums range from books, articles, and short fiction to film, podcasts, and events. I work with tech and culture innovators, agencies, nonprofits, filmmakers, and science enterprises. Together we find the story and delve in for the deepest impact. The methods often combine oral history, original research, and reporting.

My writing about people, food, science, and the environment has appeared in The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Discover, Washingtonian, Mother Jones, Science, Undark, and Oxford American.

Writing Specialties

  • History
  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Science and Health
  • Culture
  • Travel

What’s New

With Spark Media, I’m producing The People’s Recorder, a podcast about how history gets recorded, and who gets to write it. Set in the 1930s, the story features people of the Federal Writers’ Project and their legacy. Made with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and state humanities councils, the series follows people who faced long odds and found themselves through creative work during the Great Depression. What does that means for our time?

We’ve been grateful for the response to the early episodes! Thanks to CJR, the Writers Guild of America and Oxford American! Check out this Q&A with Virginia Humanities and why the Washington Post hailed it as “fascinating.” You can also read my piece about uncovering a story in Virginia for the early episodes. More to come so sign up for alerts here. Check out upcoming events.

How I Use Storytelling

I use storytelling to uncover connections between people and their worlds, and reveal emotional truths. My book Cork Wars weaves a true story with real-life characters. The narrative features spies, international black markets, and a patriotic wartime tree-planting campaign with kids, gardeners, and politicians. (You can order it in hardcopy, e-book or audio, and hear the interview with Sheila Kast on WYPR.) I assembled the story from in-depth interviews with family members, personal collections, and declassified government records.

Another example is the 2017 book, Transformation of an Icon, about bioscience pioneer ATCC. Our work on that garnered a gold Stevie Award for Best Business Book. From my practice, I’ve shared storytelling techniques and strategies as a writing instructor and TEDx speaker on Creative Storytelling with teams.

Writing Instruction & Speaking

  • Johns Hopkins University M.A. in Science Writing, with Advanced Academic Programs (AAP). Learn about course offerings.
  • The Writer’s Center workshops include science writing and documentary film. Workshops show how people with a scientific background can start writing for the public and how non-scientists can weave science into their writing responsibly. View the upcoming workshop schedule»
  • Testimonial from one doc film workshop participant: “Your class helped so much … Because of your class, I was awarded a fellowship to travel to Japan and will be making a small documentary …”
  • Guest author with the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program. Check out the program and request a visit on the program’s website.
  • Guest in book group discussions of my books.

I love joining book club sessions. To request a guest spot or speaking engagement, send me a tweet at @dataylor1 or visit my Contact page.

 

Awards

  • 2022 International Animation Festival, Honorable Mention for Enemy Alien
  • 2021 Independent Shorts Awards, Bronze for Enemy Alien
  • 2020 Pushcart Prize nomination for short story, Humane Society
  • 2019 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY), World History (silver) — Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II
  • 2016 and 2018 writing fellowships with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
  • 2011 International Reporting Project fellowship for reporting on global health in West Africa
  • 2010 Writer’s Guild of America award nominee for best documentary film — Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story
  • Amazon Best of the Month pick — Soul of a People book
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Books of 2009 — Soul of a People book
  • 2008 Washington Writers’ Publishing House fiction prize — Success: Stories
  • 12th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards finalist — Success: Stories
  • 2010 CINE Golden Eagle award — Worlds of Sound: The Ballad of Folkways, the story of the little pirate record label with the global reach, premiered on the Smithsonian ChannelHD
  • WGA Screenplay Reading Series Award winner — My People, a feature film screenplay co-written with Jim McGrath; also received a staged reading in New York

Collaborations

Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America (Wiley) explores America in the 1930s through writers who found their voices in that crisis. The book provided the basis for an award-winning documentary Smithsonian film, Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story. Listen to the NPR interview on All Things Considered.

For the podcast The People’s Recorder, our team is drawing from archival collections and new interviews to share a new journey through the Federal Writers’ Project story for listeners today. Sign up for updates here.

For the National Geographic illustrated book, The War of 1812 and the Rise of the U.S. Navy, co-author Mark Collins Jenkins and I combed personal collections and manuscripts in the Library of Congress for vivid and forgotten firsthand accounts and artifacts.

With innovators and leaders in business, science and philanthropy, I team up to provide writing services for getting your story into a compelling, publishable or producible form. From document research to recording interviews and oral histories, we work together to shape the themes and highlights of your story, create a roadmap, and carry it to completion. Our strong track record includes a Gold Stevie for Best Business Book. See my profile on The Authors Guild website and get in touch.