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. Afterward, he completed a PhD degree at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. He and his wife live near Houston, Texas, where they are active in their church. They have four grown children and eight grandchildren.
A frequent instructor at writers' conferences and speaker to writers' groups, Donn is the author of a suspense novel, The Lazarus File; a mystery novel, Rhapsody in Red; and a book of poetry, Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. He continues to write fiction, poetry, and articles on U.S. foreign policy and other current topics.
And now, it's time to Take 5 with Donn Taylor.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: Not always, but I guess it must be part of my genetic code. 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.
Q; How does your faith impact your writing?
A: The same way it impacts my life. Faith is the little leaven that leavens the entire loaf. In my writing, it governs whatever values the sympathetic characters pursue and the unsympathetic characters violate. Occasionally it is overt in the dialog of characters. At other times it is implicit in the value systems practiced or violated. But it is always present, as the Lord's value system is always present in real life.
Q: What part of writing is the most difficult for you? What part (if any) is easiest?
A: The overall plotting of the novel is the most difficult. The premise comes easily enough, but detailing it into a coherent structure comes hard. The easiest? Once I know the general outline of a scene, it's fairly easy to let the characters and situation develop it for me. I let them bounce off of each other like balls on a billiard table. Next easiest would be editing the same scene to get the junk out of it and give it shape.
Q: Other than writing, is there something in your current life that really thrills you?
A: Yes, certainly. My continuing thrill and deepest earthly satisfaction is my marriage to Mildred. Shakespeare put it best: "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety…." "And she is fair, and fairer than that word,/Of wondrous virtues…." She denies all this, of course, which is part of her charm.
Q: What's the most important advice you could give to a fledgling writer?
A: Three important items. The first is 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, if you're driven to write, keep writing: even if you're never published, it will bring a great deal of satisfaction.
For more information about Donn and his books, visit his website - www.donntaylor.com.