In the fall of 2007, G. P. Taylor, author of Shadowmancer and less successful books, issued an open letter to his American fans on the dire threat of the Golden Compass movie. Here's one example of it being spread around the 'net.
The reason why I wrote the book [Shadowmancer] and all the others in the series was because of one man and the damage that his books were likely to do to the Christian Church.It's curious that Taylor described the book as The Golden Compass rather than using its British title, Northern Lights. It's even more curious that he'd told the same story about reading Pullman's later book in that series, The Amber Spyglass. Indeed, Taylor's description of the book, with its "fifty pages in" and "two rebel angels," doesn't fit The Golden Compass at all. And does anyone recall that "Christian groups wanted to burn" The Golden Compass in 2000-01 (the period Taylor was describing)?
Almost two years earlier, I’d been at home in the vicarage, reading a copy of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I’d heard a great deal about the book. Newspapers and literary critics praised it. Christian groups wanted to burn it. I wanted to know what all the commotion was about.
Fifty pages into this award-winning, best-selling book for children twelve and up, here’s what I’d learned: God is a liar. God is senile. God is the enemy of humanity. I started to get mad.
Pullman’s book reworks Milton’s Paradise Lost so that Satan’s side are the heroes. Early on in the book, two rebel angels spill God’s great “secret”:
'The Authority, God the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adoni, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were the names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are … He told all who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie.' - (so Pullman said - notice he doesn't give God any other name such as Allah or Shiva - I wonder why?)
It's also notable that back in 2004, when there was no brouhaha in America over the Golden Compass movie but Harry Potter movies were already big, the Los Angeles Times reported: "Taylor has said that he was moved to start writing out of his concern that the dark powers in [J. K.] Rowling’s Potter books are given too much weight." That article contained no mention of Pullman. This 2003 Guardian article is likewise silent on Taylor writing in reply to Pullman.
Indeed, there seems to be a general discrepancy between what Taylor has told the American press and public and what he said to reporters in his British home. Taylor painted a different picture of how religion flavored his writing in an interview with the BBC about four years ago:
Andyc: Does being a vicar help you to be a good writer?Even this article on his website written by the author of his autobiography portrays Taylor quite differently from his open letter to Americans:
G.P. Taylor: No, because everybody thinks the book is a Christian book, so I have to explain it is not. Just because I'm a vicar does not mean I have to write a Christian book. It has hindered me in a way, because some of the reviewers look for things which are not there.
Taylor says that Christian themes in his works are a natural part of the writing process. “If I was a Buddhist,” he says, “my books would be influenced by Buddhism.”In contrast, the open letter shows little interest in open minds. It does, however, urge everyone to buy G. P. Taylor's books.
Taylor takes exception with the suggestion that his novels are “Christian books,” meant as entertainment for true believers. And he doesn’t want to “brainwash” anyone with Christianity. Instead, he wants to engage readers in a game of “what if.” “I want my readers to think, ‘what if there’s another force that lies beyond death?’ It’s trying to get people to open their minds, to think the impossible thing.
Taylor has a new book series out, adding some comics to his usual prose. The BuddyHollywood.com announcement of that series contains this paragraph:
Taylor surmises this interest in his works is due to the film success of another English children’s author. “I was talking to some kids at a school and this guy shows up in a very old tweed suit. He sat at the back of the room and looked very musingly at me all the way through [my presentation.] I thought, What’s going on here? Is he one of the teachers or what? He turned out to be an Oxford don. He said, 'I’ve heard all about you. We think you’re the new C.S. Lewis.' I thought, Poor old one! (laughs). Then he went off and wrote a thesis about G.P. Taylor being the new C.S. Lewis; when that went out, that was it.”An "Oxford don" speaking in the first person plural ("We think...")? That's almost a laying on of hands. Yet before that press release, Taylor's website credited the "new C. S. Lewis" meme to the BBC, a Korean broadcasting service, and unspecified American news media. No Oxford dons were ever mentioned.
Taylor has displayed some ambivalence toward that comparison. Once he vowed to stop writing the Shadowmancer series because of being "branded as the new CS Lewis." Yet oddly enough, he keeps using that phrase in press releases and interviews. If you Google "G. P. Taylor" and "new C. S. Lewis," most of the hits are on his own websites or in material issued by him, his publicists, and his publishers. And toward the end of his open letter, Taylor proudly claimed that his books "have earned me the title of 'The new CS Lewis.'"
Finally, here's an update on Taylor's magical form of aging. His MySpace page, updated as recently as this month, describes him as 43 years old. He was also 43 five years ago in the Guardian. In 2006 Spero News reported both that he was born in 1958 and that he was 42 years old in 2002. The LA Times agrees with the former date, reporting Taylor as age 46 in 2004. Taylor himself told the Independent that he had been five years old in 1963. In that case, since MySpace was founded in late 2003, Taylor was 45 years old at the earliest moment he could join.