If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say? He never gets it completely right, but sometimes he comes close.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies? Not lately, I'm afraid. In earlier years it was pick-up basketball games and running 10Ks. After the wheels came off, it was walking the nearby woodland trails with Mildred. It's always been reading—a healthy mixture nonfiction on US foreign policy with contemporary fiction. Lately it's also been chatting with a few select people on Facebook messenger.
What was your favorite book as a teen or child? When my brother and I were in grammar school, our father read to us much of the Mark Twain canon. My favorite was and is Life on the Mississippi. I still remember the riverboat pilot's oaths: "Aig-suckin', sheep-stealin', one-eyed son of a stuffed monkey," etc.
Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers. 1. I was born two days before the planet Pluto was discovered. They would never have found it without me. Some astronomers now say Pluto is not a planet, but they're wrong. If it hadn't been a planet, I wouldn't have helped them discover it.
2. When Mildred and I were stationed in France, we rented a Piper Pacer from the Aero Club at Toule Rosiere AFB in France and flew it to Copenhagen for a vacation. She proved to be an excellent navigator. We watched a Danish-language movie, and for two hours we didn't understand anything but the shooting and kissing.
3. Mildred and I were married sixty-one years, seven months, and four days before the Lord promoted her to the heavenly choir.
What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not? When I retired from teaching, I first wrote poetry. For fiction, I began with suspense and published two novels in which I used my military and aviation experience. I took time out for a historical novel, Lightning on a Quiet Night, a nostalgia trip for Mildred and me back to our origins in Northeast Mississippi. Since then it's been mysteries. Why change? Mystery is a compatible genre, and setting these on college and university campuses built on my academic experience. It also gave the opportunity, in addition to just telling a story, to write about still-current problems in higher education.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? Most of us catch a few darts on reviews because we're Christian. Those we just shrug off and keep writing. However one of my choices cuts both ways: The protagonist in my mysteries has musical hallucinations—a constant torrent of music flowing through his brain. Readers have appreciated the incongruity between what he is experiencing in the real world and what is going on in his brain. But for some readers this has been a complete turn-off, a distraction from the story. Once committed, though, I just have to put it out there and hope enough readers like it. So far, they pretty much have.
BIO: 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 at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired from college teaching, he writes suspense and mystery fiction as well as literary poetry designed for the ordinary reader. He is a frequent speaker at writers' conferences and study groups. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction, poetry, and essays on ethics and U.S. foreign policy.
Here's a summary of Murder in Disguise:
Official verdict: Suicide. But why would that vigorous department chairman commit suicide? Did he kill himself to avoid disgrace from the impending exposure his rumored activities on the dark side? When visiting professor Preston Barclay questions his long-time friend's suicide, he receives threats. Press has enough problems already in proving his competence to students and faculty in the newly hostile environment of the state university. That task is made more difficult by the fact that the new department chairman and a gaggle of campus radicals do all they can to undermine him. And that sexy female siren assigned as his student assistant creates even more problems there and, worse yet, problems with Press's courtship of his colleague Mara Thorn.
Press's questions about the suicide don't find adequate answers, continuing rumors accuse his friend of disgraceful activities, and Mara's research reveals a wide range of criminal activity stretching from the community onto the campus itself. The more things don't add up, the more dangerous the threats against Press become, and the more determined Press becomes to clear his friend's name and find the truth about the alleged suicide. But can Press and Mara's stumbling efforts prevail against the well-organized and entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger…?
Don't forget to leave Donn a comment. Drawing in one week. Thanks, readers! Mary Ellis ~ Suspense Sisters