It's hard to believe we are nearly halfway through July already. Time is flying.
Today I'd like to welcome Donn Taylor. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?
Integrally, if that is a word. When I retired from teaching and decided to write a suspense novel, I didn't know there was a Christian market. I didn't plan any Christian message, though I wasn't going to write anything my family would be ashamed of. What happened was that I couldn't write anything except my Christian values. They aren't overt in that novel, The Lazarus File, but they're close enough for a Christian publisher to re-issue it as an e-book. In most cases after that I've tried to get a specific Christian message into each book, but always in a way integral to the plot. (I can't stand pasted-on Christianity in a novel.) Actually, I learned that technique from the Communist screenwriters in Hollywood: They held that five minutes of propaganda in a movie were more effective than entire movies of propaganda. So I try to tell a good story that leads naturally to some elements of Christianity.
Sounds like you've had an interesting journey. How did you develop a 'love of story'?
I was raised in a home that valued literature. My father was a recognized literary scholar, my mother a librarian. When my brother and I were children, our grandmother and a great aunt entertained us with stories. Our mother read us Bible stories. When we were in grammar school, our father read us large chunks of the Mark Twain canon. My favorite was Life on the Mississippi, and I still remember the oaths of the river pilots ("aig-sucking, sheep-stealing son of a stuffed monkey"). I had other crazes, like classical music and high-school and college athletics, but as a 17-year-old sophomore I discovered poetry—the Romantics, of course. That led me back into literature in general, especially Robert Heinlein's sci-fi stories and Ernest Haycox westerns. So stories and poetry have been with me ever since, though Army and other work often pushed them far into the background.
Wow. A wide variety of literature. :) Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?
My latest is the mystery novel Murder Mezzo Forte, a sequel to Rhapsody in Red. They tell us to "write what you know," and I'd taught literature for eighteen years in two denominational colleges in widely separated parts of the country. That provided the background. The rest was "what if" questions: What if a professor actually said what the rest of the faculty was thinking and didn't dare say? What if, in the name of diversity, the Bible Department hired a Wiccan? And what if that ill-matched pair had to solve a campus murder in order to prove they didn't do it? Later, I read about musical hallucinations and gave them to my hero. That was Rhapsody in Red. For Murder Mezzo Forte, I asked, "What if the same two characters were involved in another murder and, on top of that, were accused of being two-thirds of an illicit love triangle involving the murder victim? In the process of both, I had opportunity to explore some of the areas where bones among small colleges are buried. Good fun.
I'm guessing it's a high intensity book. Do you have a favorite scene in your newest release?
That's like choosing among my children (which I don't do), but I do have a favorite. It is the college faculty meeting, with the different departments pulling in different directions and saying a variety of nutty things, and an underqualified dean trying to rig the situation. It's ridiculous, but it's actually pretty realistic.
I take it your years of teaching gave you some experience in depicting the scene. :) What do you plan to work on next?
My work in progress is another sequel with the came protagonists, this time teaching a summer term at the state university instead of their denominational college. After that will probably come another sequel with the same protagonists on summer vacation.
Sounds like an interesting series. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
That has to be John 5:17: "But he answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." God's work in the world is continuous, calling His people out of the popular culture of their day: Abraham from Haran, the Israelites out of Egypt and from the idolatrous cultures of the Promised Land, Christians from the culture of Rome . . . . The process has continued since the time of Christ: out of the savagery of the Roman Empire and the Northern barbarians so that here in Christendom we now have the arrangements we call civilization, while the rest of the world lives in the same or worse degree of savagery that it knew in Roman times. The process continues. We are still being called out of the degraded popular culture of the US today.
Great reminder. If you are traveling to a deserted island for a month, what two items would you take along?
Assuming that the island would provide sustenance, I'd take Gone with the Wind and War and Peace. It would take me a month to get through the two of them, and there's no way I'll find time to read them in any other conditions.
LOL. :) Where can readers connect with you?
I post something every day on Facebook at www.facebook.com/donntaylor and www.facebook.com/authordonntaylor. I'm also at www.twitter.com/donntaylor3. My Web site is www.donntaylor.com, which has a button for e-mailing me.
Thanks for stopping by today, Donn. Is there any final advice you would give writers?
Don't forget that all comments this month will be entered into my July giveaway. :)