Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from?
I grew up in a small town near Jackson, MS. My father was a professor and scholar of literature, my mother a librarian. My brother and I were raised on good stories, with my father reading to us extensively from Mark Twain among others. (I still remember the riverboat oaths.) I enlisted for one year in the Army in 1948 to avoid being drafted. Afterwards, I was commissioned through ROTC and recalled for the Korean War. I led an Infantry rifle platoon there and stayed in service to complete the unfinished business. I later served with Army aviation in Vietnam and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. After retirement, I completed a PhD degree and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. I’m now retired from that, too. My wife and I enjoyed 61 wonderful years of marriage until the Lord called her home a few months ago. I continue to live near Houston, TX, enjoying children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren while continuing to enjoy my church and write fiction, poetry, and articles on current topics.
How long have you been writing?
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. (Much later, during occasional calm periods in the Korean War, I still wrote songs in my head. Most of them I’ve forgotten.) 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. It is still available and doing rather well as an e-book.
How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?
I was raised on Bible stories as far back as I can remember. During an evening church service when I was 14, I felt moved as I hadn’t felt before, answered the altar call and was baptized a few Sundays later. I can’t say that that ended all questions, though. I suffered a number of doubts while trying to make sense of the universe, and I actually tried atheism for a while. (I lacked the blind faith required to maintain it.) But by age 30 I returned to Christianity as the only explanation that ultimately made sense. The reasoning that brought about my return is roughly that found in C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Through prayer and meditation I’m now closer to the Lord than I’ve ever been, but I’m by no means a finished work. I don’t think He’s through with me yet.
Tell us about your latest book(s). What do want your readers to take away after the last page?
I have to give two answers: My latest is the suspense novel Deadly Additive. In it the hero rescues an heiress and her female journalist friend from Colombian guerrilla kidnappers. It should be a simple operation, but in the process they stumble onto a chemical weapons conspiracy that threatens the global balance of power. That launches the hero and the journalist on an odyssey through danger on two continents and the Caribbean. In the process, both have spiritual lessons to learn. The takeaway: Performing heroic deeds for good humanitarian causes is not enough: Life is not complete without Christ.
But my forthcoming novel Lightning on a Quiet Night, from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, is radically different. It’s a historical set in Northeast Mississippi in 1948 as the Cold War begins. But its main subject describes how a small town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder. As the story develops, it includes hefty servings of romance, suspense, and comedy before a resolution (and takeaway) that I’ll let the readers discover when they read the book. I don’t yet have a release date.
How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?
I’m not currently blogging. Last year I blogged several times a month for http://authorculture.blogspot.com. In addition to book reviews, I discussed writing subjects—everything from broad subjects like the nature of inspiration and creativity to tiny subjects like the use of transitions and ways to dramatize compound predicates through punctuation.
What are you reading right now?
I like to keep different things going at the same time. In addition to the Bible and daily newspapers, I’m reading Karen Whiting’s excellent Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front, Billy Graham’s The Holy Spirit, and Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society.
I’ve just finished reading The Preacher’s New Family, by Linda Glaz. It’s a very pleasant romance, and the quality of writing and editing is outstanding.
Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse?
Definitely. Jesus’ statement of the great and next-to-great commandments in Matthew 22:37-39: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart , and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I’m not there yet, but I’m still trying.
Where can we find you on the web?
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?
I love teaching poetry writing at writers’ conferences. Poetry has a bad reputation today because too many poets are writing only to themselves and a few other poets. In what I call my “poetry crusade” I try to teach aspiring poets to write good-quality poetry that can be enjoyed by ordinary readers.That’s also the kind of poetry I write.
Donn, thanks so much for sharing with us, we love hearing from new-to-us authors. I pray God will continue to bless your writing.