Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 2 with Donn Taylor

Welcome back for our second spotlight day with Donn Taylor! How did you get started with your writing?
I don't remember a time when I wasn't trying to create something. I began writing music at age 14. Two years later I entered college as a music major, studied piano with an instructor on leave from Cincinnati Conservatory and played some of my classical compositions in her recitals. But at age 18 I got interested in poetry—the Romantics, of course—and began writing poetry and some very bad short stories. Since then, writing is just something I have to do, though there have been long periods when professional and family requirements pushed it far into the background. I always wanted to write a novel. After I retired from college teaching, I joined a local writers' group and finally realized my ambition with The Lazarus File, a novel of spies and airplanes in the Caribbean, still available as an e-book.

If I’m not mistaken, Lightning on a Quiet Night is your first historical novel. Can you share whether you might be writing more historicals, and an idea of what they might be about?
To be completely honest, right now I'm too much upside-down to be sure which way I'll go. One possibility is to take Lightning's characters into the early Korean War period. Another is to complete sequels (mysteries) to Rhapsody in Red or a sequel (suspense) to Deadly Additive. I don’t feel drawn strongly in any of these directions—or in any other.  In flight training I learned that when recovering from "unusual positions" of the aircraft, you first re-establish straight and level flight, then figure out what you're going to do next. When I get straight and level again, I'll figure out what comes next. Meanwhile, all is in the Lord's hands.

Some writers love plotting, some like writing that first draft, and others enjoying researching or digging into the revisions. What's your favorite part about writing a book?
All of those elements of writing a novel or poem bring me a painful satisfaction comparable to what I used to feel in the oxygen debt of competitive distance running. Beyond that masochism, though, I enjoy the clean pleasure of re-reading a passage I've written and knowing it's good. That's about one percent of pleasure vs. 99 percent hard work.

What are one or two of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching a novel?
Somewhere in the research, something will happen that transforms the entire project. While researching Colombia for the setting of The Lazarus File, I found the photograph of a lone house standing on top of a bare hill. At the time, I just skimmed over it. But it haunted me, and it became the basis for one of the primary landscape settings of the novel, one that determined much of the action as the novel developed. I love it when something like that happens.

If you could be a character from one of your favorite historical novels, who would you be and why?
I'd be the bo's'n in the battle crew of Captain Horatio Hornblower. Why? He gets to see the fireworks of all the sea battles without getting killed or injured, whereas other crew members and junior officers get knocked off quite regularly. By my count, the bo's'n is the only one on board who doesn't get reamed out by the captain. If one could put up with the rations on board it would be a great show.

Anything else about yourself, writing, or your books that you’d like to share?
Three things. First, I've been talking about my novels as if they were literary classics. They aren't. They are entertaining (I hope) novels designed first of all for readers to enjoy. I'll leave the literary fiction to writers blessed with the special talent that requires.

Second, I am the most fortunate of men. The Lord blessed Mildred and me with a wonderful courtship and long, satisfying marriage. Those interested can find a brief Valentine's Day account of it at Those not interested can also find it in the same place. (I do like to be precise about these things.)

Third, I post something every day on my Facebook pages—sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical or scriptural, but usually weird in one way or another. Everyone is invited to come over and join the fun.

Visitors, if you’d like to learn more about Donn and his books, here’s where you can find him online:

Thanks for joining us today! And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter drawing for your chance to win a copy of Lightning on a Quiet Night! The winner will be announced on Friday, Feb. 27.

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