Elmont resident Taj Toogood, 19, began writing “His and Hers” when he was 17 and spent months trying to find a publisher who recognized the book’s potential. That was the toughest part about the process, Toogood explained to the Herald, but it still gives him ample time to reach his ultimate goal — to become a millionaire by the age of 21. “My parents always said, ‘if you can find a way to make a living out of something you enjoy doing, it will never feel like work.’ I am striving to make my [money] by doing something I like to do: writing and telling stories.”
Toogood, who lives on Carnegie Avenue and is majoring in business entrepreneurship at New York Institute of Technology, said that he wrote his romance novel based on the cliché, “there are two sides to every story.” He explained that the idea to write from two unique perspectives stemmed from his real-life experiences and role as “middle man” among his group of friends.
“I was always told that there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth,” Toogood said. “I’m the one in my group of friends that everyone seems to talk to. [It’s like they want] me to take sides. When I decided I wanted to write a book, this seemed like a great idea: to write from each person’s side.”
In doing so, Toogood has given readers the freedom to side with the character they empathize with more: James or Nicole. He said that he wanted to give his audience the chance to directly relate to either character. Creating that sense of freedom for readers was a product of his own liberty to take his story wherever he deemed fit, he said.
“There is nothing like the feeling of having your characters evolve into relatable people,” Toogood said. [What] I enjoy most [is] building my characters and having the freedom to take my story anywhere it needs to go.”
Toogood is confident that his book and the success that comes from it will ultimately generate pride in the Elmont community.
“My success is my community’s success,” Toogood said. “I think ‘local teen becomes a successful author’ will inspire other young people in our community to pursue their dreams. They will see that their goals are attainable because if Taj Toogood can do it, ‘why can’t I?’”
“I want everyone to know that I am very proud of my book,” he said.
“His and Hers” is available online at tatepublishing.com/bookstore, barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com and is downloadable on iPad, Nook and Kindle.