With THE DAY SHE DIED releasing on October 15, I took a little break from my series featuring Christian authors talking about time travel and writing (see links to the right to purchase my book). Donn is a great guy and we at one time were both clients of agent Terry Burns. I want to thank Donn for his time. Be sure to check out his website and his novels.
1. If you could travel back in time to be a witness to any event in history, what event would you choose, and why?
Tough question because there are so many possible answers. Certainly nothing in biblical history, because actually seeing it happen would eliminate the higher experience of belief through faith. I am curious about what actually passed between Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, when the trusted traitor Alger Hiss was advising Roosevelt. But I think I’ll settle for something less ambitious: I’d like to know exactly how the British naval hero Horatio Hornblower won a group of European slaves away from their African masters without firing a shot or paying a shilling. His biography is silent on that.
I think Donn just pitched two novels I would like to read some day.
2. Name one time period in history you would not want to be alive during. Why?
The most obvious answer is any time before antibiotics, because my life would have been very short. (Antibiotics came in while I was in grammar school.) That said, I think it would be being draft age in World War I. That war saw the first use of heavy artillery, chemical weapons, and (worst of all) widespread employment of machine guns. None of the generals, not even Pershing, figured out what to do about the machine guns. Firepower too greatly exceeded mobility, and this resulted in mass casualties on all sides. I’ve seen the vast collection of unidentified bones in the charnel house at Verdun, and I’m happy not to be one of the featured attractions.
So much complaining about life today, yet medicine has made life longer and more fulfilling. An possibility not likely if you fought in WW1.
3. If you could go back in time and do anything different in your writing career or journey, what would you do and why?
My development was slowed by my idea that I could do it all on my own. To live it again, I would aggressively seek the advice of knowledgeable persons and be more active in critique groups. In particular, I wish I had known about five years earlier that there was a market for Christian fiction.
4. When you think of time travel, what is your favorite book, movie, or TV show on the subject?
No contest on this one. It’s Robert Heinlein’s novel The Door into Summer. Many reasons here. First, the book itself is simply delightful in working things out ingeniously just the way you’d want them to come out. Second, Heinlein’s basic metaphor involves a tomcat who, on the first day of snow, refused to go outside until he’d seen that no door of the house opened into summer. When stationed in Verdun, we had a tomcat who actually did that whenever it snowed. So I re-read the book then and have enjoyed it again since then. It bears several re-readings, and it never fails to delight. I recommend it even for those who don’t like sci-fi.
A new book added to my “to-read” list.
5. If you had a chance to relive your life and do something different or many things different, what would you do and why?
The most serious answer is that I would give more serious consideration to my parents and much less to my own headstrong wishes. My father had lost a year to polio when he was nineteen, and he walked with special shoes, three braces, and a cane ever afterward. He’d planned to be a surgeon but settled for being a professor, and he adapted to whatever circumstance he faced without complaining. More than that, he insisted that his sons not be bothered by his physical limitations. I did not understand the courage his life required until I was an adult. (My poetry book is dedicated to him.)
However, there is one less serious thing I would change. In my freshman and sophomore years in college I ran middle distances—never lost a two-mile in either year, was undefeated in the mile my second year. In the last mile I ran, I slowed down in the third lap because I expected a close race in the two-mile to follow, yet I came within two seconds of my best time. If I could live it again, I would push that third lap and try for a record. It was the last college mile I ran: That summer the draft flushed me out of school and I never ran college track again. (That, however, I would not change.)
Regrets about sports can seem trivial to some, but really was the basis of how I began my novel. Any activity you have passion for and devote a lot of time to can result in regret.
Name: Donn Taylor
Website & blog, etc.: www.donntaylor.com, www.facebook.com/donntaylor.
Lightning on a Quiet Night (November 2014 Release)
Rhapsody in Red
The Lazarus File
Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond
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.
Now retired from teaching, he lives near Houston, Texas, where he writes fiction, poetry, and articles on current topics.