Saturday, June 15, 2019

Taylor Anderson Interview - Pass of Fire

Photo Content from Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson
 is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the DESTROYERMEN Series. He has a Master's degree in History and taught that subject at Tarleton State University. As a gun maker and forensic ballistic archaeologist, he has advised numerous museums as well as the National Parks Service and the United States Army. He's also a technical and dialogue consultant for movies and documentaries involving18th, 19th and early 20th century combat. He's even done some acting.

He's a member of the National Historical Honor Society and the United States Field Artillery Association—from which he was awarded the Honorable Order of St. Barbara. He owns a collection of 18th and 19th century artillery pieces and fires them for movie sound, documentaries, competition, and fun.

His cannons (and sometimes himself) have appeared in many films including: The Alamo (2003), Palo Alto, American Outlaws, Two For Texas, Time Tracers, and Rough Riders. (He also consulted on The Patriot and Ride With The Devil.) He knows precisely what cannons are capable of and that's reflected in his writing.

As a sailor, he's knows the capricious vagaries of the weather and the sea and as a historian, he's trained to research what he's unable to experience first-hand. Careful research was essential to writing Destroyermen because one of the main characters is, after all, USS Walker. Over 270 “four-stacker” destroyers were built during and after WW I, but none remain today.

He loves old music, old trucks old guns, and old dogs—but would give everything he has to go into space. He says he was either born a century too late or too early. He lives in Granbury, Texas.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
I believe the most important thing I learned in school was how to learn—more specifically, how to teach myself the stuff I wanted to know. Make sense?

Defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer.
There was no such thing in my youth, nor was there ever a specific moment when it dawned on me that I wanted to become a writer. I’ve always loved to read and tell stories, and tinker at writing, but I was so busy with other things, writing was just something I did for hoots—until I broke down and began the DESTROYERMEN Series. I can tell you when the inspiration came for that. I was on the set of the 2003 Alamo movie and some fellows and I were having an inevitable discussion about “famous last stands.” After numerous examples were given and evaluated, I suggested the dreadful trial of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet at the outbreak of WW2 as a candidate for analysis. Hardly anyone knew what I was talking about. That bothered me because the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and its British, Dutch and Australian allies truly did face an Alamo-like situation in late ’41 and early ’42. I think the seed to write something, maybe not about the Asiatic Fleet, but including it had already been planted, but that’s when it sprouted, along with a determination to spin an unconventional tale about some of its members. The sci-fi/alternate history aspect of the story sprang from my desire to tell a fictional story, and if I was going to do that, I refused to alter the wartime experiences of anyone or any ship that actually endured the ordeal. It occurred to me then that if I was going to change things around, I might as well change them a lot. I started writing, and the story just flowed. The next thing I knew, the first DESTROYERMEN novel, “Into the Storm,” was done. I was blessed to quickly find an agent who believed in the story, (and me), and 14 installments in the saga, “Pass of Fire” has now been released!

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on the Destroyermen series?
I was a big fan of Heinlein as a kid, but I also loved Treasure Island and Moby Dick. I guess the most lasting influences those and all the other historical fiction and non-fiction I read at the time might’ve had on me was a love of adventure, exotic places, and tales of discovery. In retrospect, an awful lot of them tended to have something to do with the sea as well.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Ha! Probably that I’m such a crummy typist. I do, actually, type with two fingers and a thumb. No kidding. I just never learned how to do it right, and I guess it’s too late now. On the other hand, I may be the fastest “two-fingered typist” in the world!

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
Not profoundly or noticeably in the sense that I knew it at the time, or that I can look back and recognize it now, but I’m sure the aggregate of all the stuff I’ve read over the years has certainly helped form the way I think in various ways.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know while writing PASS OF FIRE?
That’s tough to say. All the characters that have survived from “Into the Storm” through “Pass of Fire” have changed tremendously. Some of those changes are obvious and profound, while others may seem more subtle, but are no less important. Watching them become who they are now, over time, has been both inspiring and heart-rending. I think, considering what they’ve been through, it’s amazing so many have remained “true” to themselves, regardless, and remain who they always were in certain crucial ways. As for “new” characters, there aren’t very many important ones in this installment, but I think I enjoyed “getting to know” the Celestial Mother, Jash, and even another side of Lawrence a little better the most. And then there’s Blas and Sister Audry. Their . . . interconnected journey always fascinates me as I write them.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Turn forty. Ha, just kidding. I always say that as a metaphor for gaining life experience, and I’ve known plenty of twenty year olds who’ve gained more life experience than many people do in a lifetime, but it is important. And the stranger the story you want to tell, the more important it is to infuse it with sufficient realism for people to suspend their disbelief. Your scenarios have to be plausible, (to a degree), your science needs to work, (on some level), and your machines need to operate in an explainable (without letting the story get bogged down too much in minutiae) fashion. Just as important, if your story involves combat, the weapons—whatever they are—need to be understandable and operate within consistent constraints.

What were your inspirations for the character development?
Most of my “good guy” characters are drawn from people I’ve known, though the vast majority are composites of numerous individuals. This goes along with the “life experience” I spoke about, through which one meets and interacts with a lot of different people from all walks of life. One thing that may seem counterintuitive; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using characters who seem stereotypical—on the surface. Many people do, until you get to know them, because they portray themselves that way and that’s the way they want the world to see them. Getting to know (and revealing) the real person behind the fa├žade is one of the more interesting aspects of writing a particular character.

Writing "bad guys" is harder, even though I've known some of them too. I just don't "get" them and it often creeps me out trying to get in their heads.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

Well, I never knew another author until I became one, and by the time I met, (and was honored to become friends with some), I guess they supposed I knew what I was doing. I didn’t have a clue. I got loads of good advice from my agent, Russell Galen, some of the first and most helpful of which went something like “get rid of all that silly crap, fix this and change that, and I’ll look at it again.” I’m proud that he’s trusted me to do most of that on my own, since then.

After being transported to a strange alternate Earth, Matt Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker have learned desperate times call for desperate measures, in the return to the New York Times bestselling Destroyermen series.

Time is running out for the Grand Human and Lemurian Alliance. The longer they take to prepare for their confrontations with the reptilian Grik, the Holy Dominion, and the League of Tripoli, the stronger their enemies become. Ready or not, they have to move--or the price in blood will break them.

Matt Reddy and his battered old destroyer USS Walker lead the greatest army the humans and their Lemurian allies have ever assembled up the Zambezi toward the ancient Grik capital city. Standing against them is the largest, most dangerous force of Grik yet gathered.

On the far side of the world, General Shinya and his Army of the Sisters are finally prepared for their long-expected assault on the mysterious El Paso del Fuego. Not only is the dreaded Dominion ready and waiting for them; they've formed closer, more sinister ties with the fascist League of Tripoli.

Everything is on the line in both complex, grueling campaigns, and the Grand Alliance is stretched to its breaking point. Victory is the only option, whatever the cost, because there can be no second chances.

Praise for the DESTROYERMEN Series

“A new, genuinely different ‘alternate Earth’ story.”—New York Times Bestselling Author David Weber

“Gripping and riveting.”—New York Times Bestselling Author S. M. Stirling

“Taylor Anderson…[has] steamed to the forefront of alternative history.”—National Bestselling Author E. E. Knight

“Intriguing what-ifs…combine with churning, bloodthirsty warfare.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Action sci-fi doesn’t get significantly better than this.”—Booklist

You can purchase Pass of Fire (Destroyermen #14) at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TAYLOR ANDERSON for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Pass of Fire (Destroyermen #14) by Taylor Anderson.


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