Sunday, September 07, 2008

Author Donn Taylor - RHAPSODY IN RED - Free Book

Today I'm intruducing you to Donn Taylor, another Texas author. I loved his writing when I read The Lazarus File that was published several year ago. Now he has a new release, Rhapsody in Red. I'm in the middle of reading this book right now and enjoying it.

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I haven't spent much time thinking about this. I suppose I write about characters I respond to, whether positively or negatively, and about situations that concern me. In The Lazarus File, my protagonists are people who keep their promises in spite of difficulties. The situation that concerned me for that novel, set in the 1970s, was the interface of Colombian drug cartels, native terrorist organizations, and Soviet expansionism. For Rhapsody in Red, the protagonists are professors devoted to truth with a capital T in a college that is sliding toward relativism. (It's a lighthearted mystery, though, so I don't want us to get too serious.) With poetry, it's a matter of finding interesting expression for small kernels of concentrated truth. I also don't want to get too serious about the poetry because my objective is to write good-quality poetry that a broad popular audience can enjoy. Many poetic truths can be expressed in humor and satire.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

That's an easy question, Lena. It has to be the day I married Mildred, the most wonderful woman in the world. John Milton (unknowingly) described it perfectly when he wrote, "With thee conversing I forget all time," or better yet, our status on our marriage day:

The world was all before them where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.

How has being published changed your life?

Life has certainly gotten busier, but its qualities and objectives remain the same. There is a great satisfaction in having landed my first national contract, and that with a publisher like Moody. (Lazarus was a small-press book.) But it also raises the problem of making the next book as good as the one before it. As for busy-ness, I have to find time for edits of both the mystery and a poetry book, and publicizing both, as well as writing the next book. Fortunately, I have an encouraging wife who helps me find the necessary work time.

None of us could make it as authors without understanding and encouraging spouses. What are you reading right now?

The Bible, of course. To keep up with the world, I read two weekly and two daily newspapers, including the on-line NY Times. I also read the Baptist Standard and the Roman Catholic journal First Things, along with posts on an electronic bulletin board run by the National Association of Scholars. I've just finished Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken, the most thoroughly documented history book I've ever read. (It will undoubtedly become the definitive history of the early years of the Vietnam War.) In fiction, I've been reacquainting myself with the brilliant Western writer Ernest Haycox and the British aviation-and-espionage writer Gavin Lyall. In CBA, I've just finished Dodson Brandt's White Soul and begun Lisa McKay's My Hands Came Away Red.

I read White Soul, and now my husband is reading it. What is your current work in progress?

I'm working on a sequel to Rhapsody in Red. Same protagonists, same setting, very different problem, but the same lighthearted tone. I'd probably better leave it at that, for the characters and situation keep asserting themselves in unforeseen ways.

Be sure and let me know when you have a publication date. What would be your dream vacation?

Two weeks anywhere with my wife, Mildred. Better yet, the two of us for two weeks in Heidelberg during Fasching (German Mardi Gras). We'd alternate between the magnificent Mannheim Opera and those lively Fasching parties with their excellent popular music.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

The overall Colombian/Caribbean setting for Lazarus was determined by the subject. Research recommended local settings, and a single photograph helped me build a specific fictitious setting in the Andean Cordillera Oriental. The process was quite different for Rhapsody. The problem there was to make the setting seem specific and authentic while making Overton University an any-college located anywhere. (It is definitely not modeled on any institution, but shares characteristics with many.) The setting is vaguely Midwestern and west of the Mississippi, but defined no further than that.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

It would be the economist and Hoover scholar Thomas Sowell because he is the most brilliant mind writing syndicated columns and well-researched books today. A close second would be Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things. He has wide-ranging interests and is a master of quiet irony.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Mildred and I enjoy walking the many woodland trails in our neighborhood. We also love classic movies—the ones made before Hollywood went sleazy in the mid-sixties.

I'm with you on the movies. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Choosing a subject and shaping it into an appropriate plot. I don't always overcome. They all fight back, and some of them defeat me. When I do succeed, it's by thrashing away at airy nothing until something concrete and acceptable finally falls out.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Be patient: it's going to take two or three times as long as you think when you start out. Read, read, read, and learn the craft. And don't be too proud to learn basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
Tell us about the featured book.

In the lighthearted mystery Rhapsody in Red, a history professor with musical hallucinations and a female Wiccan professor of comparative religion have to solve a campus murder before police can pin it on them. They are ostracized when they expose unsavory faculty relationships, and their lives are endangered when they find that organized crime operates a racket from the campus computer network. Before they're through, they both face life-changing spiritual decisions.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

The quick way is, my Web site for Lazarus that will soon undergo major overhaul. Rhapsody in Red is listed by title only on Amazon for advance orders. If people type my name into Google, they'll turn up all kinds of things.

Thank you, Donn, for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Rhapsody in Red. I think you'll like it. The book has a unique flavor. And if you can, get a copy of The Lazarus File. You can probably find out how on Donn's web site.


Jo said...

This book sounds very interesting. Please enter me in the drawing.


Anonymous said...

I'm interested, too! It sounds very unique!

Leah Guinn


Anonymous said...

Always good to hear of your successes, Donn.

Carol Umberger

Estelle Owens said...

I've known Donn and Mildred for 30 years, and they are exactly the happy couple this interview pictures. He is quite a scholar with wide ranging interests and sensitivities. I loved LAZARUS FILE; he has a way of making the reader identify with and care about his characters. Looking foward to RAPSODY IN RED.

Peg Brantley said...

Donn, thanks for inviting me to stop by.

I only have one comment . . .

Mildred is a lucky woman.

Peg Brantley

Ane Mulligan said...

I'm a NEW mystery reader and I've discovered I LOVE them. And a lighthearted one sounds right up my alley. :D Especially with Donn's sense of humor. ;)

Great interview, Donn and Lena!

Linda Kozar said...

Congratulations Donn! I can't wait to get in line and have you sign my copy of this much-anticipated novel.

Anonymous said...

Donn, Thanks for letting me know about your interview. Great. The new book sounds very intriguing. Put my name in the hat for the drawing. Love your poetry.

Loretto Gaddy

jec said...


I thorougly enjoyed Lazarus File, so I'm looking forward to a good cup of coffee and reading Rhapsody in Red. I'm sure it will make a good book club selection for the one I'm in.
Blessings to you and Mildred!

Anonymous said...

It is great to have this medium for sharing with a friend from way back. Donn and I were fellow staffers at Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly (NC)in 1947. He engineered staff reunions in 1997 and 2002. I had to miss 1997, but made it to 2002 and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially seeing Donn and buying a copy of "The Lazarus File," which is very good. Now, I am looking forward to "Rhapsody in Red" and, hopefully, to a sequel to "Lazarus."

Very best wishes to you, Donn,
Leland Williams

blueviolet said...

That sounds fabulous. I like the character combination of the professors and I think it will be really interesting to follow their path to solving this mystery and to some greater self-awareness in the process. Thanks for the interview.

Anonymous said...

I would like a copy, Donn.
You are an inspiration to all writers.
JoAnn Swearingen

John Robinson said...

I first got to meet Donn and his lovely wife Mildred years ago at the Glorieta conference, and we've connected there several times sense. They are absolutely the nicest, most genuine, down-to-earth folks you'd ever meet. Donn, I'm thrilled with your Moody contract, and I'm believing for great things for it and you.


PS: also a big thanks for your service to our country. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Donn & Mildred! :)

Claire said...

I appreciated your reading discipline and advice Donn - and you made me go look up Thomas Sowell! Gee, I'd love to get a copy of that new book-sounds like a great story.

Vonda Skelton said...

Thanks for a great interview, Donn and Lena. I LOVE mysteries and can't wait to read this one!
Vonda Skelton

Donn Taylor said...

Thanks to all of you for the kind comments. If you're really interested, you can preview "Rhapsody" as well as my poetry book on my Web site, I hope you enjoy them.

Brad Francis said...

Great interview and I'm very interested in both books, Donn. They both sound like works I'd enjoy, particularly "Rhapsody in Red."

windycindy said...

Hi, What a fun interview. What a very knowledgeable author! I like that he can take the serious topic of the problems of the college campus and keep it a light-hearted mystery. Please enter me in your book drawing. Thanks, Cindi

stampedwithgrace said...

great interview! thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading your book :)

cheric said...

I thought I knew Donn, but I had a lot to learn from this interview. Great job! I can't wait to read Rhapsody. Donn is a very talented author.

Cheri Cowell

cpullum said...

Nice interview! I really believe this will be a different read and excited about it!!!

Linda Helman said...

I'm so pleased to hear you've published another novel and this one sounds like a real winner. All the best to you and Mildred. It's an honor to know you both.

Thanks for inviting me to stop by and read your wonderful interview.

Best wishes,

Abi said...

Oh, this sounds like a good book. I love music and mysteries. Love to win.

Anonymous said...

Donn, I always enjoy your writing. Hoping to read your newest book soon.

Jan Snyder

Cathy Elliott said...


I agree with Peg! Plus, great interview. Thank you, Lena.

I very much enjoyed reading the first chapter on your marvelous Web site. Now I'm ravenous for RHAPSODY IN RED!!


Smilingsal said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. This looks like a good read.
smilingsal55 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I enjoyed the thoughtful questions and answers, along with the wise and encouraging advice for the rest of us aspiring writers! Enjoyed LAZARUS and now am looking forward to reading the copy of RHAPSODY I just received. Best of luck "birthing" your next baby....
Karen Saunders

Jill said...

Donn's a wonderful guy. I haven't had a chance to meet Mildred yet. Maybe one day he'll bring her to a writers conference. Congrats on the new book, Donn!

artst4christ said...

I love mysteries and finding new authors to read . . . I am going to go look into Lazurus File. Sign me up please, btw Red is the best color in the world.

artist4christ -@- cyberhaus -.- com

Ann Isik said...

Coming across Donn's book of poems: 'Dust and Diamond' was a delightful surprise. Donn's erudition and delicacy would be intimidating were it not for his generosity of spirit, his courage - and humour - I can't read 'A Carol for our Time' without singing it, too and why not!

If I can say this after the briefiest of acquaintances with Donn, I envy his close friends, family and neighbours.

If you can write good poetry, where every word must count,I reckon you can write anything.

Reading the extract from 'Lazarus' proves this is so and shows how skilfull Donn is in the crafting of a novel.

No doubt 'Rhapsody' is at least as well-crafted. I shall be sending for it (don't put me in the hat for the draw as I live in France and the postage would cost too much).

I am a fan.

Carole said...

I am intrigued by this book and would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Carolynn W. said...

Sounds really interesting, would love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win:)

Deborah said...

Nice interview! I enjoy mystery/suspense books. Rhapsody in Red sounds very interesting. Please put me in for the drawing. Thank you.

Becky C. said...

I really like the sound of this book.

Please enter me in the contest.

Thank you,

Becky C.

carrie said...

Iam looking forward to reading this. It sounds very exciting and suspenseful. Carrie