Jordyn Taylor Talks About Taking Revenge in the Name of Love

Jordyn Taylor is the author of The Revenge Game. The Revenge Game follows Alyson, a true romantic at heart during her Junior year of high school. The novel explores strong female relationships and characters set within a feminist mystery. YE spoke with Jordyn about what being a hopeless romantic means to her, writing a feminist mystery, and other stories she would like to explore within the young adult world.

Young Entertainment: What is your first memory of putting pen to paper? And at what point did you know you wanted to be an author?
Jordyn Taylor: I’m so happy you asked this question, because otherwise, I never would have remembered the joy of playing the Storybook Weaver computer game in the ‘90s. I probably first played it when I was six. For a kid who loved writing and art, it was the best: you could design an image of the scene up top, and then write the scene in the text box underneath. Wow…I have major nostalgia right now. By the time I was 11, I knew I wanted to be an author. I wrote in my school yearbook that my ambition was “to write a full book.” 

YE: The Revenge Game is a feminist mystery. What makes that different from a regular mystery with a woman?
JT: For those who haven’t read The Revenge Game yet: On the first page of the book, you learn that the high school lacrosse star Brenton Riggs Jr. has been missing since prom night. Then, you jump back in time to the beginning of the school year, where the story gradually unfolds through the eyes of Riggs’ girlfriend, Alyson Benowitz. Their relationship is straight out of a fairytale…until Alyson learns the boys at her school have launched a secret competition called the King’s Cup to see who has the most sexual prowess. As the girls launch their own secret competition called the Queen’s Cup to get revenge on the boys, Alyson is forced to question how much she can really trust her seemingly perfect boyfriend. 

The difference between The Revenge Game and other mysteries lies in the themes it explores, including toxic masculinity, or the harmful things some men do so as not to seem weak. As the mystery unfolds, we come to see how oppressive this hyper masculine behavior can be, and how people of all genders can fight back in the name of equality. 

YE: How was The Revenge Game inspired by anything in your own life?
JT: The part in The Revenge Game when Alyson and her classmates are forced on a grueling winter camping trip was totally inspired by my own life. At my high school in Canada, we had to do an annual wilderness trip, and in Grade 10, it took place in the dead of winter. We dogsledded and cross-country skied from campsite to campsite. It was so cold that our eyelids froze shut while we slept, and we were given blocks of lard to nibble throughout the night to replenish the calories our bodies were burning just keeping us warm. I brought so many details from that trip into The Revenge Game.  

YE: What’s one thing Alyson does within the book that sets her aside from other characters?
JT: Despite being a hopeless romantic when it comes to her own relationships, Alyson also has a history of going into “vigilante justice mode” to take revenge on men who treat women badly (specifically, on the numerous men who’ve broken her mom’s heart). It’s Alyson’s thirst for revenge that inspires the Queen’s Cup, the girls’ secret competition to reject boys in the most humiliating ways possible.

YE: What was the process of writing The Revenge Game?
JT: I’m a hardcore plotter, which means I plan out the whole story before I write. I start by mapping out the story by hand in my notebook, using bullet points. From there, I write a synopsis—about 2,000 to 3,000 words long. I think of writing like building a house: Only once the foundation of my story is rock-solid do I feel confident building upwards. The next step is my first draft, which I image as the frame of a house: the goal is to make sure the plot is stable from beginning to end, but it’s nowhere near finished; at this stage, I’m at roughly 60,000 words, and my characters read like two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. As I lengthen the draft from there, I put the finishings on my house and decorate it: I flesh out all my characters, refine my dialogue, and describe my settings more vividly. 

YE: The King’s Cup and The Queens Cup are both competitions, what sets them apart besides the fact that one is for girls and one is for boys?
JT: The King’s Cup is a competition for sexual prowess, wherein the boys award themselves “points” for every time they get intimate with a girl. The winner—or the “King”—is the guy who gets the most action, and therefore, is perceived as being the most “manly” and “powerful” of all his classmates. The Queen’s Cup isn’t as much a competition as it is a resistance movement, wherein the girls work together to stage humiliating rejections that take away the boys’ power. The two competitions are drastically different at their cores: The King’s Cup—which rewards boys for coercing girls into sex—perpetuates systemic oppression, while the Queen’s Cup attempts to topple it.  

YE: Would you consider Alyson to be a hopeless romantic? And what does that mean to you?
JT: Oh yes, absolutely. She’s desperate for the kind of love she’s read about in romance novels—in part, because her mom has given up on romance entirely, and Alyson needs to believe that true love is still possible. I think a hopeless romantic is someone who’s so determined to find love that they may not notice or choose to ignore their potential partners’ red flags. 

YE: What do you hope readers take away from this book?
JT: The point of The Revenge Game isn’t that all boys are bad. It’s that toxic masculinity is bad—not just for women and nonbinary people, but for men, too. Case in point: men are statistically less likely to seek help for mental health issues. I hope readers come away feeling empowered to resist oppressive gender norms that, frankly, are holding all of us back.  

YE: We are trying something new! Can you illustrate the story of The Revenge Game in 10 emojis?
JT: 📚🥍 💕 🏆 🔥 👑💋🏔️ ☠️👯‍♀️ 

YE: What has been your favorite fan experience so far? 
JT: Any time a reader writes me a letter, email, comment, or DM to say they loved my book, it makes my day! Also: fan art. I love seeing readers’ creative takes on my characters and their worlds! 

YE: What are some other stories you’d like to explore within the Young Adult world?
JT: I’m actually hard at work on two more YA novels coming out in 2025! One is Wicked Darlings, a thriller about an aspiring journalist who infiltrates Manhattan high society to investigate her sister’s untimely death. The other is The Rebel Girls of Rome, a dual-timeline historical novel about a locket stolen by the Nazis in WW2, and a girl who goes to Rome to figure out what really happened to its owner—her great-aunt—long believed to have died in Auschwitz. 

YE: What is the one thing that all love stories need?
JT: Authors and readers who treat those love stories with the dignity the romance genre deserves!