Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Donn Taylor

Is there a story behind your book Lightning on a Quiet Night?

Every time a person moves from one place to another, it brings a new beginning. My first experience of this came at age seventeen when my parents moved from central Mississippi to teach at a college in the northeastern corner of the state. I quickly grew to love the forested rolling hills of that region and to appreciate the people who lived there. Most important, though, I met Mildred, who taught me the meaning of love. The critical stage of our courtship occurred when the region was snowbound, with no electricity or transportation. By the time the snow melted (no, we didn't cause the melting) we were engaged.
So when I turned from crossover writing (The Lazarus File) to the Christian market, it was natural for me to return to that area and for the landscape to be prominent in the novel. The snow scenes are reminiscent, though never imitative, of Mildred's and my experience. And I wanted to write about the everyday citizens of the state—the storekeepers, small-town bankers, farmers—people of good will who seemed never to be well represented in fiction.
All of this, and of course more, coalesced into making the novel.

What started you on your writing journey?
            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, and finally realized that ambition with The Lazarus File, a story of spies and airplanes in the Caribbean, still available as an e-book.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
            A definite split personality here. I love the classics: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Ariosto, Shakespeare, Milton, and Tennyson. In novels, Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again. I like nonfiction like Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society and John Lewis Gaddis's post-Cold War summary We Now Know. In contemporary fiction, I recommend Donna Fletcher Crow's A Darkly Hidden Truth, Nancy Kimball's Chasing the Lion, Cathy Elliott's A Stitch in Crime, and Ane Mulligan's Chapel Springs Revival.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
            What an invitation to narcissism! In classic styles, I'd like to be the energy of the final movement of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, the lyricism of the slow movement to Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, and the humor and passion of Doynanyi's C-Major Rhapsody. In popular styles I'd like to be the singing reeds of Glenn Miller and his stylistic successors Ray Anthony, Jerry Gray, and Ralph Flanagan.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?
Puns. Mildred could out-pun me any day, and our children could compete. When they were in high school and college, the evening dinner table often turned into a free-for-all punning session.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
When my brother and I were in grammar school, my father read us much of the Mark Twain canon, especially The Prince and the Pauper, Connecticut Yankee, and Life on the Mississippi.

Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
I don't have to escape. Since the Lord called Mildred to join the heavenly choir, my norm is a silent house in which to reflect and pray. The Lord is my companion in these times.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
In Lightning I dealt with pride and misplaced priorities in which virtuous acts become more important than the God who created virtue. In other novels I portrayed the incompleteness of life without God and Christ.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
It has to be Christ’s statement in John 5:17: “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” God’s continuous working is a living force in this world. In Christ’s time the entire world, including Rome, was given over to cruelty and savagery. Through the influence of Christianity, that has gradually changed for the better in the areas where Christianity became the predominant religion. Within Christendom, the two great exceptions came from atheistic forces, Communism and National Socialism. Outside of Christendom, the world remains as savage as or more savage than it was in the time of Christ. Within Christendom, God’s working has made the difference. May it continue to be so.

Are you working on another book? Tell us about it.

I've completed a sequel to the lighthearted mystery Rhapsody in Red, and I'm working on a second sequel. Both continue the prospective romance and spiritual struggles of the protagonists in Rhapsody, and both novels continue to satirize political correctness on campus.

Back Cover Blurb
In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder. Despite the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, MS, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will these discoveries lead? To repentance? Or to denial and continuation in vanity?

To purchase Donn's book:

About Donn:
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD degree at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. His prior published works include three suspense novels and a book of poetry. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

To connect with Donn:

Donn Taylor is giving away a copy of Lightning on a Quiet Night.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Sharon A Lavy said...

Thanks for sharing, Don.

I always loved to see Mildred sitting by your side at the writers conferences. I loved reading your book Rhapsody in Red. I am glad you are going to bring those characters back in a future book.

Caryl Kane said...

Great interview with Don. Lightning on a Quiet Night sounds like a great read! :)


Robin Bunting said...

Oh my, this sounds like a great book. Loved the interview with Donn Taylor. I have read Rhapsody in Red and loved it. Wasn't aware he had written the sequel much less working on a second one. Thank you for this opportunity to catch up with Donn.

Deanna Stevens said...

I think I'd really like to know..where will these discoveries lead? Thanks for the giveaway!
dkstevensneAToutlookDOtCo M

Linda Glaz said...

We like to share puns as well. I got more groans from my kids than smiles. Love it!

Patsy said...

Would love to read this book. I'm from Mississippi also. Born and still live in Laurel.

Carol G. Stratton said...

I like the premise of your book and am sure it's a great read.You sound like a very multi-talented man, Donn.

Patricia Bradley said...

Donn, would that college have been North East? :-) Great 'seeing' you here. Sounds like a great book.

Donn Taylor said...

Thanks to all for the kind comments and enthusiasm. Patricia, the college was Blue Mountain, then a college only for girls. (One reason I went to Ole Miss.)

Patricia Bradley said...

Blue Mountain isn't far from me. Love the college...:-)

KayM said...

Mr. Taylor sounds like a very interesting person. Thanks for the great interview. I am looking forward to reading his series.

Carol Heilman said...

Donn, love your writing style & I think mt husband would enjoy this book also. Blessings to you.
Carol Heilman

Britney Adams said...

Thank you for sharing this great interview! I am certainly intrigued by Lightning On A Quiet Night!

texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

Donn Taylor said...

Thanks again to all of you for your kind comments and enthusiasm. Patricia, I was back through Blue Mountain a couple of years ago as part of a contemporary authors program. The college was in good hands. Carol, I think there's plenty in the book for your husband (or any adult male) to enjoy. There's the basketball thing, and the hero is a WW II vet who sometimes has to act that way. Gosh, I wish all of you could win.

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