The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa alum Taylor Bradley self-publishes debut work, ‘Side Effects’

University of Iowa alum publishes a book dealing with mental illness through plays, poems, and short observations about the world around her.

Taylor Bradley graduated in 2013 from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in theater and a minor in English literature. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she run a nonprofit theater company called 48 Hours Theater. She recently published her first book, Side Effects, which deals with various aspects of mental health and features a collection of poems, short stories, plays, and observations. The Daily Iowan recently had the opportunity to speak with Bradley about the experience of writing the book and her art.

DI: What inspired the book?

Bradley: I was recently diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and all of a sudden, I had resources and names for things I’ve struggled with my entire life. I had a rather large collection of random writing projects that I had been working on throughout high school and college, and I realized it all fell within six or seven categories/themes. I decided to compile the pieces I felt spoke most honestly about my journey of growing up. I titled the book Side Effects so I could organize my work by the themes that inspired me, as well as actual side effects I’ve experienced, because I write in numerous media.

DI: The book is a combination of many genres, many styles; how did this idea come to you?

Bradley: I don’t think anyone thinks or feels in only one medium. Also, this book spans about eight years of my writing, and I think depending on what phase of life you’re in, you relate more to different types of literature. If I can convey an idea by comparison, or if it’s especially vivid, I’ll probably write a poem. If what I’m trying to explore is about people and their interaction with other people (love, friendship, conflict), I’ll probably write a play. Or if I just have a poignant thought or an absurd interaction that I want to speak on, it may just be an 11 Word Observation. Also, I think people respond better to multiple media, especially younger generations. Patience is fleeting, and I want my book to be accessible and easy to consume.

DI: How much of this work is autobiographical? Do you think that affected your writing process and the final product?

Bradley: It is almost entirely autobiographical. Some of it is dramatized slightly, but unfortunately, many elements of what I write about doesn’t need a dramatized interpretation to be dramatic enough to make an impact on readers. I was very nervous when I first released the book; honesty can make people very uncomfortable, and I felt a little like I was publishing my diary. I didn’t leave anything out. This is where I’m from and who I am.

DI: Where did the inspiration for the stage adaptations/screenplays come from? What made you want to combine that with poetry?

Bradley: I have a theatrical background. I grew up performing in plays, and I got my B.A. from UI in 2013 in theater arts with an emphasis on playwriting. I now run a nonprofit theater company called 48 Hours in Los Angeles. Theater is in everything I do. I often have dreams of living in plays or with characters from literature, and it has always been my go-to outlet when I’m struggling.

DI: Self-publishing your art becomes a prominent theme, especially at the end. Do you mind talking a little bit about your decision to self-publish and what that experience was like?

Bradley: I’ve never been one to wait around and wait for opportunities to be handed to me. I prefer reaching out and taking risks. I self-produced six plays through my theater company; I rented spaces, hired actors, and made it happen. I pride myself on putting out quality work, but I don’t feel the need for approval to get my feet off the ground.

I knew this book was ready for consumption, and I felt like it needed to be published, but I don’t have a literary agent. I think growth and success comes after you can prove that your work is capable of reaching people. I feel like I should put the work in and learn everything I can about marketing, and formatting, and editing, and design, so I can approach this industry with the knowledge and drive it takes to make a living at it.

DI: Do you think self-publishing has changed you as an artist?

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