Taylor Tracy author photo

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a novel in verse, but MURRAY OUT OF WATER by Taylor Tracy has knocked me “out of water” with its deft use of imagery and poignant words that hold so much weight with their beauty. This book came out on May 21, 2024 and definietly belongs on any and all library shelves!


Murray Out of Water CoverBighearted and observant twelve-year-old Murray O’Shea loves the ocean. Every chance she gets, she’s in it. It could be because the ocean never makes her apologize for being exactly who she is—something her family refuses to do—but it could also be because of the secret magic that Murray shares with the ocean. Though she can’t explain its presence, the electric buzz she feels from her fingertips down to her toes allows her to become one with the ocean and all its creatures, and it makes Murray feel seen in a way she never feels on land. But then a hurricane hits Murray’s Jersey Shore home, sending the O’Sheas far inland to live with relatives. Being this far from the ocean, Murray seems to lose her magic. And stuck in a house with her family, she can no longer avoid the truths she’s discovering about herself—like how she feels in the clothes her mom makes her wear, or why she doesn’t have boys on the brain like other girls her age. But it’s not all hurricanes and heartache. Thankfully, Murray befriends a boy named Dylan, who has a magic of his own. When Murray agrees to partner with him for a youth roller-rama competition in exchange for help getting her magic back, the two forge an unstoppable bond—one that shows Murray how it’s not always the family you were given that makes you feel whole…sometimes it’s the family you build along the way.


According to your website bio, you have a “fluffle of rescue bunnies.” How long have you been rescuing bunnies, and how did this originally start?

I currently have three rescue bunnies and have had bunnies again for about three and a half years: Snowflake, Philly, and Heidi. Snowflake is my oldest and absolute heart bun. He’s a four and a half year-old Florida White, a type of specifically albino rabbit, who came to me from a local animal rescue via Texas, where he survived the RHDV2, a hemorrhagic virus with an extremely high mortality rate, outbreak there. During Fall 2020 in the wake of dealing with COVID-19, the shutdown, and what seemed to be the end of so many dreams, I really wanted a pet again and started looking at rescue bunnies on Petfinder. I was actually set on a bonded pair at my local rescue, but based on the personality fit I was looking for, the coordinator asked me to consider Snowflake instead and I was instantly smitten. I was in a really bad spot mental health-wise when I got Snowflake and he 100% saved my life. A few days after I brought him home, we found out my grandma was really sick, too, and having him to cuddle and focus on made coping easier. He’s my little ten-pound best friend.

I had originally gotten Philly, a three and a half-year-old New Zealand (also albino) who was found in a feral cat colony in Philadelphia, as a possible bond/friend for Snowflake, but because they have such dominant personalities they have remained more neighbors than friends. Philly is at least fifteen pounds of just pure chaos and heart. The real problem is that Philly loves Snowflake, but Snowflake only loves food. Philly was a foster for almost a year and I was the first person interested in her. As soon as I saw her in person, I knew she was coming home with me.

I love red-eyed-white rabbits and they so often sit and sit and sit in rabbit rescues and shelters. If you are interested in bunny rescue, I hope you’ll consider the albinos. They have the absolute best temperaments.

My third bunny is technically my mom’s, but she’s really become mine too. Heidi is a three-ish year old Harlequin (brown and gray) bunny. She’s the smallest of my three at about five pounds, but by far the sassiest. She was dumped in the woods by someone and later found by a local bunny rescue.

Rescuing bunnies is something I think that will remain a lifelong passion for me. I love animals and wasn’t allowed to have many as a kid since my mom and I lived with my very firm no-pets-in-my-house grandma.

What’s special about bunnies is that unlike cats and dogs, they are prey animals. They are begrudgingly good cuddlers. Getting to make them feel loved and cared for so they feel comfortable to let their personalities shine through is such a gift. Every time one of my bunnies flops over or falls into a deep sleep, I feel good knowing I’m giving them a safe space and home. They’re also so, so much work. Changing litter boxes (yes, they’re all litter box trained) multiple times a week and giving them fresh hay and water every day. Making salads every morning, measuring out pellets every night and giving them a weekly probiotic. Plus, they will chew everything except for the expensive rabbit-specific toys you buy for them. But their existence is a true gift nonetheless.

Sounds like it! And they remind me of my cats (both have dominant personalities and have settled for being “neighbors”). Along with your use of poetry, I love Murray’s magic with the ocean in MURRAY OUT OF WATER. How did you know that magic needed to be a part of Murray’s journey?

The ocean magic in Murray Out of Water came from the way I felt about the ocean as a kid growing up and going down the shore with my mom on childhood summer weekends. When you’re a little kid, the ocean is so massive and powerful and strong compared to you. The way the waves move and change, rush up to destroy your sandcastle or swirl around your ankles feels like a very mundane kind of magic. I’ve also noticed how much people who love the ocean talk about the sea like it is a friend or someone they know, work with, appreciate, or contend with. The ocean is so mysterious and all-powerful compared to a tiny person. So in part, the magic in Murray pays homage to that early childhood magic and especially when the ocean is your literal backyard.

But moreover, the magic in the book is intended to be more metaphorical. I knew Murray needed a way to cope with a mother who doesn’t let her fail and be a kid, doesn’t let her explore who she is and instead has an idea of who Murray should be and lashes out when she veers outside those lines. I think it’s common for kids in those situations to delve into escapism and fantasy, and giving Murray magic would allow me to do that plus further accentuate how she is different from her family. I also wanted to leave it up to the reader to determine for themselves whether Murray’s magic is something real that she’s grappling with or a coping mechanism she’s using to deal with having such a strict family that refuses to understand her. Murray losing her magic, regardless of whether you think it’s real or imagined, because of the hurricane also gives her a tangible goal to achieve when she has to stay with extended family in Goshen, NY and help her re-evaluate and heal her own relationship to the sea in the wake of the damage it caused to her home.

I can fully relate because I was that child, and have no doubts that lots of readers will see themselves in Murray. I also saw that you are running pre-order campaigns through some local bookstores–what a great promotional idea! How were you able to work with bookstores to get this kind of thing off the ground?

I did my research first on local independent bookstores that I knew had robust children’s offerings and whose stores really reflected my own values as a writer. I also knew I wanted to set it up where I had one northern Jersey bookstore and one southern Jersey bookstore because I have friends in both parts of the state who might want to do local pick-up and knew other authors often partnered with a couple of bookstores to do signed preorders. The Curious Reader in Glen Rock, NJ is a children’s bookstore that is so community-oriented. Chris and the whole staff there are compassionate, caring people for both kids and the books they read. I also knew going in that they did set up signed preorder campaigns for local authors. At Thunder Road Books in Spring Lake, NJ I had a connection through a friend who is both a South Jersey teacher and a book club runner. She had moved her book club – Tide and True Romance Readers – and had such a fantastic time working with the store’s manager, Kate. There are a few bookstores down the shore and I knew that I wanted to partner with a seaside bookstore due to the book’s themes. Both bookstores have been such a joy to work with. For authors who want to do something similar in the future, my best advice is to shop at and support your local bookstores as a reader and that will give you such a good idea of who you want to partner with as a writer and as a small business. You can preorder signed and personalized copies here from The Curious Reader (remember to check signed!) and here from Thunder Road Books. All preorders from those two stores come with stickers and a bookmark!

Sounds amazing! What are some of your current projects?

I am eagerly awaiting edits for my second book with Quill Tree Books, which will be out sometime next year. I don’t think I can give much away yet, but it’s another queer middle grade, this time it will be mostly in prose, and it’s a project I actually wrote way before Murray. I wrote the first draft of this project in Fall 2019 through Winter of 2020 and it was my first attempt at writing a middle grade novel, which I think is a testament to the fact that no writing is ever really wasted. I’m also working on materials for another queer middle grade novel in verse and am currently drafting a queer young adult road trip book. For me, ideas are not the problem, but rather balancing multiple jobs plus debut author anxiety and finding time to dig in and draft. I’m making progress bit by bit!


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