Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lightning On A Quiet Night ~

A HUGE welcome to ~
~ Donn Taylor

Author of ~

 Leave a comment and email address about the following post and be entered in the drawing for next Monday night - A SURPRISE ( I'll announce the winner on Monday night - along with the prize)
See what Donn has to say below:

            Several months ago Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas published Lightning on a Quiet Night, my fourth novel, a historical very different from my mystery and suspense novels. It still seems strange to me how this novel came about, because I didn't plan it that way. It was a long time coming, with many unexpected changes along the way.

            Years ago in college, I thought about writing a western novel in the manner of Ernest Haycox. The precipitating incident was to be an unexpected murder in a small town, a murder vaguely similar to one in Mississippi during the mid-1940s. But the Korean War interrupted that project. I rarely thought about it during the next several decades. Only recently, when I decided to write a novel for the Christian market, that I looked at that idea from a different perspective.

            Back when I was seventeen, my family moved to Northeast Mississippi, and I quickly came to appreciate the region's wooded hills and small, fertile valleys. I also appreciated the people—small-town storekeepers, bankers, and farmers—who went about their daily business with basic good will. I was well aware that these people were rarely if ever portrayed in the prevailing fiction of the day.

            So when I came to write that Christian novel, I set it in a fictitious town in that region, and in 1948. Because I'd actually lived there then, I knew I had the tone right. But it took much research of things I hadn't thought of then to be sure I had the historical facts right. Mildred and I traveled to Tupelo, MS, and worked through the files of a local newspaper. And we spent time in the state archives in Jackson. She also talked to her relatives who had farming experience in that area.

            I'd decided to use the murder I'd imagined in college as the precipitating incident. But I wanted to portray the people of the region as I'd known them. The best way to do that was to bring in an outsider who would have to learn what made the local people tick. So I brought the heroine from Indiana, and made the hero a local boy trying to convince her that his small town was the best place on earth to live. That also would set up a romance as the main plot, with the murder as a secondary plot. So I started to write, with Mildred encouraging me all the way.

            That's when strange things began to happen. I'd like to say the Lord intervened, but that might be presumptuous. As the writing progressed, though, the subject broadened to consider basic Christian problems. The town became proud of its human virtues to the point that these got more attention than the God who created virtue. Paradoxically, the town's religiosity led the heroine to reconsider her initial skepticism, and incidents emerged to remind everyone that original sin is the heritage of mankind. I'd begun with the intention of writing a Christian novel, but I had no idea I'd end up grappling with the deepest and most basic problems of the Christian life.

            As Mildred and I talked, more and more of her practiced faith came to be represented in the novel. Characters grew in the way she'd grown and taught me to grow, and some devolved in the opposite direction. In the end, the novel's main concern turned away from the romance and the murder and focused on the town's self-image and people's struggle to maintain that image when confronted with evil.

            This isn't to say that those considerations are always heavy. I managed to get in a number of comic scenes to show the lighter side of the region's people. That gave a lifelike mix of the weightier and lighter elements. Except for those comedy scenes, the back cover description accurately portrays the novel:

In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder. Despite the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, MS, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will these discoveries lead? To repentance? Or to denial and continuation in vanity?

     Thus my historical novel is completed. I hope you enjoy it. Now back to suspense and mystery . 

  Leave a comment and email address about the above post and be entered in the drawing for next Monday night - A SURPRISE ( I'll announce the winner on Monday night - along with the prize)

 ~Thanks for stopping by Journeys To Joy ~


Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Donn,

Your historical sounds WAY interesting to me. I'm glad you listened to your inner prompts, researched, and completed it@ And I'd LOVE to win it!!

Take care,

Gail Kittleson

journeystojoy.net said...

Gail - the book is tremendous and has just the right amount of every technique in the genre.
You won't be a bit disappointed in the read, I'm sure!
Thanks so much for stopping by Journeys To Joy this week!

journeystojoy.net said...

Thank you, Donn, for allowing me to feature you and your novel. It's been a pleasure, and the story was a great read. It's now on my KEEPER SHELVES and won't be going anywhere. My grandkids are at the age where this style book is exciting too - glad to give them something wholesome to rest their eyes upon.
Congrats on a fine story!

journeystojoy.net said...

congratulations, GAIL - you've won Donn's book - LIGHTNING ON A QUIET NIGHT!

I'll need your email address in order to get your snail mail addy so you can receive the book.

Email your email address to me at joyjournaling@gmail.com

Thanks and CONGRATS!