CWR: Your background
is in civil engineering and education. Was writing fiction something you worked
at from an early age, or did you come to it later? And how?
Doran: I have been writing fiction since I was a young boy. A friend and I traded sci-fi short stories that we composed ourselves when we were about ten years old. I've always loved to read, and writing came naturally to me, though I work harder at it now. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't working on a story. Cole Porter Palmer, who is a character in the stories composed by Dennis Cole in Terrapin, was conceived over a decade ago.
CWR: Who are some of the authors and thinkers who have influenced you the most?
Doran: As to literature, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor, J.R.R. Tolkien, and T.S. Eliot, writers and poets who wrote from a Catholic perspective rather than writing explicitly Catholic novels. I read a variety of writers: Jane Austen, Dostoevsky, Patrick O'Brian, Thornton Wilder, Oscar Wilde, Dickens, Richard Adams, and I have learned something about the craft of writing from every one of them. I enjoy mystery stories, especially the golden age puzzle-plot stories from the 1920s through the 1940s. Some of my favorite mystery authors are G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, J.D. Carr (the locked room master), Rex Stout, and the early Ellery Queen mysteries that featured pure "ratiocination". I enjoy P.D. James, who is still writing.
I have been an avid reader of history and biography for decades, which helped immensely when I was composing Toward the Gleam
Thinkers who have influenced me include Blessed John Paul II (especially "Faith and Reason" and "The Splendor of the Truth"), Edith Stein (her journey from phenomenology to the convent), Kurt Goedel (his ideas about time and space), G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and Frank Sheed (their accessible apologetics), Blaise Pascal (reason in the light of faith), William F. Buckley (conservatism based on first principles and natural law), and Augustine and Aquinas (a little at a time). I have a four-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy on my bookshelf, to which I refer quite often. I've always had a fascination with competing ideas.
CWR: Both of your novels can be described, at least generally, as works of “mystery”. What are some of the difference between Toward the Gleam and your new novel, Terrapin?
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