It’s primarily a suspense novel, but one with strong romantic and philosophical themes. Let’s start with the back cover description:
To soldier-of-fortune Jeb Sledge, the assignment seemed simple: Rescue an heiress and her journalist friend from Colombian guerrillas and collect a sizable paycheck for his troubles. But things go rarely as planned. After stumbling upon a mass of dead bodies, journalist Kristin Halvorsen isn’t about to leave Colombia without the proof she needs for the story of a lifetime. And Sledge soon finds himself ensnared in a chemical weapons conspiracy that involves civilians, guerrillas and high-ranking government officials. But neutralizing the factory that made the weapons isn’t enough. Where are the weapons that have already been fabricated? Who are the intended targets? How potent and far-reaching are the effects? A pursuit through South America, the U.S. and the Caribbean embroils Sledge and Kristin in a mission to prevent a catastrophic attack—and leaves Sledge fighting to save both their lives.”
Well, that’s the basic narrative. But in the process, Sledge has to learn that heroic deeds for noble causes is not enough. Kristin has to learn that some things are more important than getting a blockbuster story. Both of them have to discover a spiritual dimension, and they have to learn that love attacks unexpectedly in some of the most unlikely situations.
This sounds like a great read! I see from your bio that you are former military. Did any specific experience inspire this story?
Not a military experience, and not a single experience but several spanning a few years. In the late 1980s at an anti-communist rally I met The Honorable Lewis Tambs, former U.S. ambassador to Colombia and Costa Rica. He gave me a concise summary of the Soviet global strategy, and he interested me in the cooperation among Colombian guerrillas, Colombian drug cartels, and Soviet-allied influences. (He’s the man who coined the term “narco-terrorism.”) This information vegetated for several years until I retired from college teaching. Then it (along with a good bit of further research) became the setting and situation for my first novel, The Lazarus File—which, by the way, has just been re-issued as an e-book. The Cold War ended, the Soviet Union disintegrated into its component republics, and former KGB operatives formed international crime syndicates engaged in black market trafficking of weapons. That situation and further research into South American guerrillas and terrorists formed the background for Deadly Additive, with some of the same characters from Lazarus aiding the new protagonists. That said, my former military training (now largely obsolete) did provide certain techniques of patrolling in hostile territory. And, by the way, the English Renaissance dramatists taught me that suspense is best when punctuated with unexpected bits of humor.
That is an interesting tidbit about the English Renaissance and humor. Humor is an excellent addition to suspense. What do you hope the reader will take away from Deadly Additive?
Giving an honest answer to this question requires a few basics about the nature of commercial fiction. That fiction is designed primarily to entertain, not to instruct. If I’ve entertained my readers, then I’ve accomplished my primary objective. If a person wants instruction, he should read nonfiction. Taking instruction from fiction is a doubtful proposition because the author can make anything he likes happen in his fictional world. What’s true in the fictional world may be the complete reverse of what’s true in the real world. But fiction, even commercial fiction, can present the author’s vision of the real world, or some part of it. In The Lazarus File, my main characters were people who kept their promises regardless of the outcome to themselves. So I suppose the takeaway from that novel was, in part, the value of keeping one’s word. Similarly, my main characters in Deadly Additive are devoted to excelling in their professions, but find that professional excellence is not enough—that there are important values beyond that, including spiritual values. Still, I must caution readers to approach the values content of fiction with caution. The visions of some writers (I think of Ayn Rand and D.H. Lawrence) are deviant enough to be considered and then discarded. And some fiction writers are more propagandists than artists. –My apologies for answering this question the long way around!
Okay, thanks. What is next for you?
I have a contract for Murder Mezzo Forte, a sequel to my previous mystery Rhapsody in Red. Both novels involve professors–a history prof who suffers from musical hallucinations and a heroine who is a converted Wiccan and has a real problem with men in general. Both novels contain lighthearted satire of denominational colleges trying to go secular, with a few swipes at political correctness on campus. But yes, both are murder mysteries. I’m working on a sequel to the sequel, and I’m shopping a historical about a small town too proud of its own virtues having to deal with its first murder. Beyond that, I still teach poetry writing at writers’ conferences when opportunity arises.
If you would like to be entered into the drawing for Donn’s book Deadly Additive you must answer the following question.
What qualities must a novel possess to give you the greatest sense of satisfaction when you finish it?
Rules: There must be at least ten qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. The drawing is open to U.S, addresses only. I will contact the winner on Sept. 9th, 2013. You will then have until Sept. 15th to respond or forfeit the book. No alternate winner will be drawn.
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 (especially Renaissance) at two liberal arts colleges. His novels The Lazarus File and Rhapsody in Red have received excellent reviews, and he has also authored Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences such as Glorieta and Blue Ridge. He and his lively wife of 61 years live near Houston, Texas, where he continues to write fiction, poetry, and articles on current topics.