Young writer Taylor Griffith works with Robert Whitehill to further develop her voice.
Robert Blake Whitehill is more than the author of the Ben Blackshaw thriller series and more than the screenwriter on the Blackshaw feature film adaptations. Beyond these roles, Whitehill is also a committed mentor to aspiring writers. A Career Day speaker at the Black River Middle School in Chester, N.J., Whitehill also worked with Westtown School senior Taylor Griffith. The two spent Griffith’s final high school year honing her narrative skills until she produced six prose sketches based on short prompts Whitehill suggested to her. Today, Griffith is a rising sophomore at Princeton University.
Taylor Griffith says Whitehill pushed her to develop a strong work ethic in regard to her writing. “I was no stranger to the editing process,” she said. “Reading over the same pages more times than I can count definitely had its frustrations.”
One tip about creative writing Griffith did not expect to receive from Whitehill was his emphasis on the research that goes into bringing works of fiction to life. Griffith learned to analyze the writing styles of authors she enjoys, and then ground elements of her fiction writing in facts of reality. “Ironically,” said Griffith, “it turns out that two graduates from a Quaker high school enjoy writing about action packed thrillers, and I ended up learning more about CIA terminology, guns and bullets than I would have ever expected working with Robert.”
Recognizing talent when he sees it, soon it was Whitehill’s turn to reach out to Griffith, inviting her to collaborate on the first short story in the Blackshaw universe. “Taylor is a formidable writer,” said Whitehill. “She was just the right person to help me move the Blackshaw franchise into short fiction.”
Taylor Griffith is thrilled by the opportunity. “Working with Robert has allowed for a bit of his skills to rub off on me,” said Griffith. “I do know for a fact that Robert’s lessons have raised the bar of my characters’ wit and my action scenes’ intensity.”
Their collaboration, entitled Sludge, has just been published along with the latest Blackshaw novel, Geronimo Hotshot. “Taylor’s help on Sludge was invaluable,” Whitehill said. “She has killer instincts for detail. The short story deals with Blackshaw’s wife, LuAnna, and I think it’s the perfect coda to the longer work.”
For more information about Robert Whitehill or his upcoming work, please visit robertblakewhitehill.com.