The author of the Edgar Award-winning young adult mystery novel The Weirdo (1989), Taylor is also well known for the multi-award-winning historical children's novel The Cay (1969); the Scott O'Dell Award-winning work The Bomb (1995); and the 2006 book The Flight of Leroy Brown.
He published his debut young adult work, The Magnificent Mitscher, in 1955, following his military service in World War II.
When not writing novels, he pursued a career as a singer and also worked as a journalist.
Born and raised in Statesville, North Carolina, he later lived and worked in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Laguna Beach, California. He was married to Gweneth Goodwin from 1946 until 1970 and to Flora Schoenleber from 1981 until his death in 2006.
The Salma Hayek-directed TV movie The Maldonado Miracle (2003) was adapted from Taylor's 1973 novel of the same title.