I met Donn through American Christian Fiction Writers. I'm hoping he'll be at conference this year, so we can meet face to face.
Directly, very little: there’s no reason readers should be interested in me. On the other hand, my sympathetic characters act on the basis of deep ethical principles—sometimes specifically Christian, sometimes simply the ethics derived from Christianity. I’d like to think their approach resembles mine. However, some of my characters are given to puns and other wordplay. In that I confess their kinship to me.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
While in New Mexico, I visited Albu-quirky. Actually, I guess the quirkiest was collaborating with another faculty member (at a liberal arts college) in publishing a comic recital program with puns on composers’ names. Sample entries:
The Angry Bicycle………………GrrrrSchwinn
Noise on Loan…………………...Borodin
The Three Billy Goats…………...Grofé
Most of our colleagues thought we were nuts. They were probably right.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think I was about seventeen or eighteen. I entered college as a music major at age sixteen, but within two years the emotional expression of music wasn’t enough to satisfy. I discovered ideas--in both philosophy and literature--and it wasn’t long before I was trying to imitate the works I enjoyed reading.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
First and always, the classics: Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Ariosto, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, George Herbert, Tennyson. From the Bible: Ecclesiastes and Hebrews. In modern books: Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Forster’s A Passage to India. In commercial fiction: Anything by the Western writer Ernest Haycox. Gavin Lyall’s The Wrong Side of the Sky. T. Davis Bunn’s The Book of Hours. Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. Carol Umberger’s Scottish Crown Series, especially The Mark of Salvation.
It's interesting that now that I'm posting this interview, I'm deep into a study of Ecclesiastes. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’m still looking for my first contract with a national publisher. (The Lazarus File, a crossover novel, came through Panther Creek Press, a royalty-paying regional publisher in the Houston area.) I’ve written a historical that was set in Northeast Mississippi just after WW II and a contemporary suspense sequel to Lazarus. My current project is a light-hearted mystery. I’m gradually compiling enough poems of quality to publish a book of them.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Christianity and an exceptionally happy marriage keep me in constant contact with the deepest eternal realities. With those as reference points, I don’t pay much attention to the ephemeral or the trivial.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes by meaning, sometimes by sound. I have several reference books, and my file of the obituary pages from a professional military journal gives me a wide variety of American names. Most of the names in Lazarus are suggestive of the character: Sol (“the sun” < “of luminous faith”) for the heroine, the surname Daniel (“God is my judge”) for the hero, Ignacio (“burning”) for an envious villain, etc. I also have fun with place names. Ignacio lives in Malavispa (avispa = wasp). A smart woman entrapping an egotistical woman-chaser tells him her home village is Miraje (mirage): “A man of your quality must know of it.” And the entrapment takes place in the Bar Arenque Rojo (the Red Herring Bar). Why not? We might as well have fun while we write. There’s also passing reference to an exotic dancer named Kirsten Keinekleider….
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
There are two. One is that I’m honored to be married to the most talented and remarkable woman I’ve ever met. The other is that I served in two wars with the U.S. Army.
And we thank you for your service for our country. Now on a lighter vein, if you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d want to be a buzzard. That way I’d be able to stomach contemprary politics and television.
Too, too funny. Now what is your favorite food?
No contest: it’s Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. (Blue Bell’s advertising slogan: “We eat all we can and sell the rest.”)
That is also my favorite ice cream. As a sidelight, we had an ice cream supper at church one July 4th. There was a long line of ice cream freezers on the tables. Several people left notes beside one asking for the recipe. One of our friends had filled his ice cream freezer with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. I got a big kick out of everyone wanting the recipe.
The Lazarus File is a suspense novel about spies and airplanes in Colombia and the Caribbean: a CIA operative working under cover as a drug pilot…a Colombian woman of good family, threatened by industrial intrigue and kidnapping. Unwillingly thrown together, they discover a planned terrorist strike against both of their governments. Held captive and marked for death in a remote Andean valley, they have to find a way to prevent the terrorist attack. The protagonists are people who overcome personal desires and keep their promises even in threatening circumstances. And, at a critical time, one receives the peace that passeth all understanding. One secular reviewer, an ex-Marine, wrote: “Taylor…displays the rare ability to convey emotion without resorting to profanity and to convey passion without specifying body parts.” That review says much of what I hoped to achieve in the novel. The book is available through Amazon.
It is a very intriguing book. If you come to conference, please put the book in the bookstore.
Readers, our booksigning on Saturday, September 22 is open to the public. The event takes place from 1:30-2:30 at the Marriott Quorum near the Galleria in north Dallas. If you are within driving distance, you won't want to miss this opportunity to meet many of your favorite Christian authors. The conference bookstore will be open before the booksigning, so you can buy your books there, if you want to. Many of them will have special conference prices.
Many thanks, Donn, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave comments on this interview for a chance to win a free copy. There's still time to leave comments on Susan Meissner's and Marlo Schalesky's interviews, too. I'm reading Veil of Fire right now. It's a very compelling read.