I read the print edition of this book several years ago. I'm glad to see it come out at an ebook, so many more readers can read this wonderful suspense novel.
Welcome, Donn. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Right now there is too much fog for me to see the horizon. Unlike some writers, I can't see two novels ahead or even two poems ahead. I just keep plugging along on a compass course through the fog and trust the Lord to bring me out somewhere useful to Him.
Tell us a little about your family.
My father was a well-known scholar of American literature, my mother was a college librarian, and my older brother is a retired specialist on William Faulkner. Me? I spent two decades in the Army before going to grad school and becoming a professor. Mildred and I have been happily married for more than fifty years. Our two sons are lawyers. One daughter is a CPA, and the other just retired from teaching high school English. We have eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Counting our children's spouses, we have it all covered: an engineer to build it, a CPA to cost it, an Air Force officer to defend it, lawyers to handle the legal implications, and a liberal arts major to tell us what it means.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I read less for pleasure and more to elevate my craft or to help other writers. I still go back to literature to keep my imagination active. Last week it was Tennyson's "Ulysses" and Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings." Pretty soon I need to revisit Andrew Marvell's lyric poetry.
What are you working on right now?
I have a mystery novel in progress and a suspense novel in the concept and research stage, plus one idea for a narrative poem. I'm blogging on poetry each third Friday for the Christian Authors Network blog (http://canblog.typepad.com/canbookmarketing/). I'll also be teaching at the
conference again in May of 2012.
What outside interests do you have?
I'm teaching C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity to a small group at our church. I'm also an avid fan of college football, especially the Texas Longhorns—though I place greater value on the
at that university. But mostly I enjoy being married to Mildred. We like doing
things together, especially walking. We also like keeping up with our children
and grandchildren, who live near enough but not too near. Humanities
How do you choose your settings for each book?
The setting for Rhapsody in Red was a natural: I'd taught at two small colleges, so I was drawn toward setting the mystery on that kind of campus. The only trick was to keep the setting fictitious and well away from any place where I'd taught. Finding the setting for The Lazarus File was more interesting. At an anti-communist rally in
North Dakota I met The Honorable
Lewis Tambs, former U.S.
ambassador to Colombia and , and
a former member of the National Security Council. (He coined the term
"narco-terrorism.") He interested me in the unholy alliances of Communist
nations with Colombian guerrillas and drug cartels, so I ended up with a
setting in Costa Rica Colombia and the Caribbean area. Ambassador Tambs also was kind enough to
let me use his strategic concepts in the novel, and enjoyed my putting them in
the mouth of a CIA defector. I'll let the choice of settings for current
projects wait for another time.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Everyone's choice would be Jesus, of course. But if it were limited to mere humans, I'd choose the medieval poet Dante Alighieri. His Divine Comedy is one of my all-time favorites, and I'd like a first-hand reading of what he intended in his allegory, e.g., does the Greyhound represent Dante's patron or does it represent Jesus in the Second coming? I'd also like to know more about medieval
the history books tell. My second choice would be the British naval hero
Horatio Hornblower. I’d like to ask him how he got that group of European
slaves away from their African masters without firing a shot or paying a
shilling. His biography is silent on that. Florence
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I wish I'd known the difference in structure between commercial novels and literary novels. I received several severe critiques for using tricks (like double flashbacks) that I'd seen used effectively in literary novels. That cost me a good bit of re-writing. However, I'm glad I didn't know how competitive the fiction-writing business is. That might have scared me off before I started.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
The same thing He's been teaching me all my life: PATIENCE. I seem to be a slow learner.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
The first is to have patience: it always takes longer than you think it's going to. Second, learn the craft: don't be too proud or too stubborn to learn basic rules of grammar and punctuation. Third, read widely. Don't limit yourself to your chosen genre. Read subject matter as well as fiction. You never know where the next idea is coming from. (I would never have thought of musical hallucinations for Rhapsody in Red if I hadn't read about it in the New York Times.)
Tell us about the featured book. Here is the back-cover blurb of The Lazarus File: A CIA agent working under cover as a drug pilot in
.... A Colombian woman of
good family, threatened by industrial intrigue and a plot to kidnap her....
Unwillingly thrown together, they discover plans for an international terrorist
strike against both of their countries. Held captive and marked for death in a
remote Andean valley, they must find a way to prevent the terrorist
attack....With action ranging over much of the Caribbean and the United States,
The Lazarus File is a fast-paced
narrative featuring unexpected plot twists, thrilling flight sequences, and
emotionally charged personal relationships. Thematically, it images characters
who keep their promises even when it may cost their lives. Colombia
The novel also has unexpected comic moments: The character Ramón is a blend of Shakespeare's Falstaff and Walker Percy's Moviegoer. He speaks in clichés, but never gets them right.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Mark Daniel had never been hijacked before, but the man pointing a pistol at his heart was rapidly filling that gap in his experience. Worse yet, Mark realized, getting hijacked would make him miss the crucial appointment he'd won after eighteen months of dangerous undercover work.
At he had landed his white twin-engine Cessna 402 at Medellín after an overnight flight to
"Buenas tardes, Señor," he began, then changed into English. "This airplane is for hire?"
"Usually," Mark replied, "but I have an appointment this afternoon. I won't know about the next few days till my receptionist comes back from lunch."
A look of distress replaced the man's smile. "But Señor, this flight must be made today."
"Then someone else will have to make it." Mark's voice sounded more harsh than he intended. "I'm sorry," he added, "but I can't break my appointment."
The man grew adamant. "But you must, Señor. The airplane at Hacienda Agueda has become sick and cannot be flown, and we must bring the passenger back before nightfall. It is not wise to stay there overnight, for guerrilla territory lies nearby. For this flight I will pay you two thousand American dollars."
Mark swallowed his irritation. "I'm sorry, but if I don't keep this appointment, I'll lose my best customer."
That customer was Paolo Guzmán, one of the three most powerful drug lords of Medellín. To end the conversation, he turned away and checked the clips on the Cessna's cowling.
He hoped to hear departing footsteps, but instead he heard a flat, determined voice. "I do not wish to seem impolite, Señor, but you may lose more than your best customer."
Mark looked into the muzzle of a century-old Colt .45 revolver. Despite the anachronistic weapon, the visitor did not act like an amateur. The gunman's two henchmen had drawn late-model automatics and taken positions for a cross fire. Mark's anger boiled against the hijackers, but more against himself for being taken unawares.
"And if I don't make the flight?" he asked. If he could stall for a few minutes....
"Ah, Señor!" The visitor sighed and looked sad. "Before the Sabbath I must attend confession, and some patient Father must hear the tedious catalog of my sins. Why would you add your murder to that sordid list? You should be more considerate of the priesthood."
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Web site is www.donntaylor.com. Beyond that, typing my name into Google will bring up several pages of references.
Thank you, Donn, for visiting with us again.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
The Lazarus File: How often must an undercover agent die in order to survive? (Legacy Series) - Kindle
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