Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Interview with Taylor Anderson, author of the Destroyermen Series

Please welcome Taylor Anderson to The Qwillery as part of the Blood in the Water Blog TourBlood in the Water, the 11th Destroyermen novel, is published on June 14th by Roc. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Taylor a Happy Publication Day!

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Blood in the Water is the eleventh novel in your Destroyermen Series. Has your writing process changed from when you wrote Into the Storm (Destroyermen 1) until Blood in the Water?

Taylor:  Thanks for having me. My “process” has changed quite a bit since “INTO THE STORM.” I started writing it while working on a movie set, (long story), and finished it while I was back teaching at TSU. I was doing a bunch of different things back then and my writing was most definitely on the “back burner.” Now, writing is what I DO. I think I’ve grown as an author; that I’m better at it. I’m certainly more disciplined. Yet it seems to take just as long to write each installment of the Destroyermen Series as it ever did. I think this is because, even as the story grows and becomes more complex, I’ve grown more demanding of myself. I OWE it to the readers who have followed the tale so far to give them my very best, so even as the sci-fi/fantasy angle expands, I spend more time, not less, on historical research to keep it “real.”

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, pantster or hybrid?

Taylor:  “Challenging.” Huh. That’s a tough one. I’ve unloaded hundred pound rocks off of railroad cars day in and day out, roofed houses in the Texas sun, even picked cotton, and writing is the “hardest” thing I’ve ever done. At the same time, I can’t trot out a “woe is me” litany of how tough it is—because I absolutely love it. I love building things, and nothing is more satisfying than building a story and sharing it.

Being a builder, you’d probably expect me to be a plotter—and I am, to an extent. I’ve had a rough outline of the entire series in my head since the very first book, and I know exactly how it will eventually end. But getting there is the thing, and I often surprise myself as I go along. That’s one of the things I love most about writing; how much I enjoy the unfolding story myself. I don’t think I could ever write a full-blown outline of a book. Once I did, knowing exactly what would happen when, to whom, and why—all the enjoyment would be lost. Some of the very best stuff I’ve ever written (I think) took me as much by surprise as it did any reader. Walker’s grounding in “DEADLY SHORES,” and what occurred from that point on was never in any outline, or even in my head. It just . . . happened.

TQWhich method or methods do you use to keep track of the events, characters, etc. in the Destroyermen series?

Taylor:  Quite a few people ask that question. Many assume I must have a flow chart on every wall in my house, but for the first three or four books, I was stupid enough to try to keep it all in my head. Since then, my methods have evolved. I began keeping a “Cast of Characters,” with notes about who is where, doing what. After a while, as a courtesy to readers, I began including it in the books. Not all the characters listed actually appear in each installment, (they’re spread over half the planet), but they do tend to pop up from time to time. That’s why I update it with every book; so readers will know where everybody is, and it will make sense when they DO reappear. Even though the number of characters has actually declined in recent books, I believe the Cast remains excessively lengthy, and will probably move it to the back of the book, or even my website, after “BLOOD IN THE WATER.” I’ll still update it for people, but I don’t think a great long list of characters is the best thing for new readers to see when they open a book!

TQWhat appeals to you about writing Military Alternate History?

Taylor:  Destroyermen isn’t EXACTLY just Alternate History. It is in the sense that, at the outset, I added a couple more four stacker destroyers to the US Asiatic Fleet—before things got really weird,. And the Alt-Hist angle really takes off after “STORM SURGE” when the characters finally begin to realize that the various cultures, human and otherwise, didn’t necessarily “crossover” from the same history that they knew. The speculation, from a 1940’s perspective, gets very exciting and entertaining. Otherwise, there’s a heavy dose of science fiction, and even a helping of fantasy. But the Alternate History umbrella probably remains most pertinent since the whole world the Destroyermen find themselves in is a result of an historical event that never took place—the extinction event which occurred in OUR history 65 million years ago. The appeal, to me, was researching and extrapolating what our “earth” would be like, minus that event, after millions of years of evolution. There have been other global disturbances, if not on such a scale; ice ages, probably other impacts, volcanic cataclysms, but things are quite different indeed when the crew of USS Walker finds itself there. And that was part of the appeal as well; imagining what it would be like for them, how they would cope, what they would do—again, with their 1940’s culture, and understanding of natural history.

TQTell us something about Blood in the Water that is not found in the book description.

Taylor:  Well, a fair percentage of the book finally deals with General Halik’s situation in the Indus River Valley. He has always been one of my favorite characters, beginning as a ruthless Grik warrior, turned “sport fighter,” and finally General by a desperate, almost unprecedented experiment. His journey of self-discovery and evolution from near mindless savagery to a conception of honor has long been a vehicle for giving readers a deep dive into Grik culture, and showing that it is their society and not their species that makes them what they are. “Lawrence,” of the same species, if not race, provided the first hints of this, but Halik IS Grik, and I think readers will enjoy his final metamorphosis—and the circumstances that bring it about.

TQWhich character in Blood in the Water was easiest to write and why? Hardest to write and why?

Taylor:  The easiest is Dennis Silva, hands down, because he, (at his best, I like to think), is a composite of myself and several life-long friends when we were in our indestructible, bullet proof, 20s. He says what we would have said, often does what we would have done, plays the same pranks, and makes many of the same stupid mistakes. And at his worst, he is heavily influenced by other close friends who, though still good men, had starker, grimmer backgrounds to overcome. The hardest is usually Don Hernan, because he is truly evil, and it gives me the creeps to crawl in his head. In “BLOOD IN THE WATER,” it’s a tossup between Kurokawa and Gravois. Both are mad, in different ways. Kurokawa is driven by vengeance and has a capriciously bi-polar aspect to his madness. Gravois is utterly amoral and ruthlessly cunning, and practically embraces a sociopathic near-madness with a disturbing enjoyment.

TQWhich character in the Destroyermen Series so far has surprised you the most?

Taylor:  That’s a difficult question to answer. Quite a few have “surprised” me, both by how they’ve grown, and by their actions in certain circumstances. One of the reasons there are so many named characters is that a lot of them die. When they do, others step up to fill their shoes. Silva is one example. He was a tertiary character in “INTO THE STORM,” but rose to secondary by the end of that book. Now he’s a fan favorite. Halik was the same. USS Walker has had FOUR executive officers. Greg Garrett started out as her gunnery officer, and now commands a ship on an independent mission. Fred Reynolds was the youngest crew member and spent the first three books as a bridge talker, now he and his Lemurian friend, Kari-Faask, are also on their own, in enemy territory. And then there’s Captain Blas-Ma-Ar, a female Lemurian victim of a terrible assault in “CRUSADE” who has fought brilliantly in some of the most brutal battles of the war, and become a hardened veteran that nobody could ever “assault,” and survive. So it’s hard to single anyone out, but I think that readers will be extremely surprised by one character in particular in “BLOOD IN THE WATER.”

TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from Blood in the Water.

Taylor:  In addition to the reptilian and human enemies of the Destroyermen and their Lemurian allies, there are a lot of dangerous “boogers,” as Dennis Silva calls them, infesting the various places the characters explore. It’s a dangerous world, on land and sea, and even in the air. This often puts Courtney Bradford, an Australian engineer and self-styled “naturalist” at odds with the more . . . pragmatic Chief Gunner’s Mate Dennis Silva. In the aftermath of an encounter with a REALLY weird “booger,” Bradford is chastising Silva for shooting it in the head:

“. . . But really, Mr. Silva, you should try to be less destructive to the more scientifically pertinent features of the various specimens we encounter, in the future.”
“I’ll try, Mr. Bradford,” Silva replied dryly. “It just seems that them ‘most pertinent parts’ are always the ones most interested in gettin’ us.”

That kind of sums up their different perspectives on things. Sadly, my very favorite quotes from “BLOOD IN THE WATER” are highly “spoilery,” at least to some particularly entertaining episodes.

TQWhat's next?

Taylor:  Currently, I’m working on the next installment in the Destroyermen Series. I’ve only got a working title, so I won’t spill yet, but it’s a blast so far. I also completed a contribution to an anthology supplement to one of my favorite author’s long running series’. I don’t know if he’s announced it yet, so I better not, but I enjoyed it immensely.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Taylor:  Thank you! I enjoyed it very much.

Blood in the Water
Destroyermen 11
Roc, June 14, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Taylor Anderson’s enthralling New York Times bestselling series of alternate history continues as game-changing revelations upend the Grand Alliance in a potentially cataclysmic war.

Ever since the USS Walker came from another world war to defy the terrifying Grik and diabolical Dominion, Matt Reddy and his crew have given their all to protect the oppressed Lemurians. But with the Walker in desperate need of repairs just as the Grik’s First General is poised to strike, Reddy is desperate.

With more enemies than ever before arrayed against them, the crew of the Walker needs new allies. That means combing the lethal wilds of Madagascar to find the Lemurians’ fabled ancestors, as well as the enigmatic dwellers east of the Pass of Fire. But what Reddy’s crew unearths may be more than they can handle—discoveries so shattering they could tilt the balance of the war in either direction. 

But Reddy’s greatest adversary is from his past: a madman named Kurokawa whose single-minded mission of revenge will shake the Alliance to its core and raise the stakes to the most personal and terrifying levels Reddy has ever faced.


Deadly Shores
Destroyermen 9
Roc, May 5, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 6, 2014

The Destroyermen series continues from the New York Times bestselling author of Straits of Hell.

The ambitious, long-planned raid on the Grik Empire has grown dangerously ill defined. Only Matthew Reddy, commander of the old destroyer USS Walker, seems focused on the original intent.

While many Lemurians see an opportunity to reconquer their stolen homeland, others—Lemurian and human—have their own agendas, which could compromise the Alliance. Complicating matters further is Reddy’s suspicion that his task force is being stalked by some unknown power bent on aiding the Grik for reasons of its own.

As the raid begins and chaos reigns, Reddy has no choice but to risk everything in a desperate act that results in a sprawling, nightmare battle on the beaches of “Grik City,” on the very decks of Walker, and in the labyrinthine passageways of the Celestial Palace itself. The final cost could be more than Matt Reddy—or the Alliance—can bear.

Straits of Hell
Destroyermen 10
Roc, May 3, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 5, 2015

New York Times bestselling author Taylor Anderson’s phenomenal series of alternate history continues as a dangerous scheme throws the hope of honor, trust, and survival into chaos….

Transported to an alternate version of earth where WWII no longer rages, Matt Reddy and the crew of the Asiatic Fleet destroyer USS Walker have been trying to find their place in a strange new world—only to now face a game-changing conspiracy.

Reddy and his crew fight alongside the felinoid Lemurians and Imperial allies to keep the reptilian Grik, a race growing in supremacy, from reconquering the Lemurians’ ancestral home on Madagascar. But exhausted, far from reinforcements, and wildly outnumbered, the odds seem greater than ever before.

As for the fate of the Americas, Don Hernan and the evil Dominion have gathered to annihilate the forces behind the walls of Fort Defiance as a shadowy power with an agenda all its own rises with chilling resolve.

As the war teeters on a knife-edge, a tipping point may have been reached at last—and cold steel and hot-blooded valor will remain the ultimate weapons.

Destroyermen 1 - 8

Each cover links to the novel's page at Penguin US.

About Taylor

Photo by Jim Goodrich
Taylor Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Destroyermen series, including Straits of Hell, Deadly Shores, and Storm Surge. A gunmaker and forensic ballistic archaeologist, Taylor has been a technical and dialogue consultant for movies and documentaries, and an award-winning member of the National Historical Honor Society and of the United States Field Artillery Association. He has a master’s degree in history and has taught that subject at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. He lives in nearby Granbury with his family.

Website   ~  Facebook

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win copies of Deadly Shores, Straits of Hell, and Blood in the Water by Taylor Anderson from the publisher. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on June 25, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for this captivating feature and giveaway which interests me greatly.

  2. These all sound like excellent stories and from an author with some background too. I'd love to win the set, thanks for the chance.