Thursday, November 19, 2020

Interview with Larry Alex Taunton Author of Around the World In (More Than) 80 Days


Larry Alex Taunton is an American author, columnist, and cultural commentator. A frequent television and radio guest, he has appeared on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and BBC. You can find his columns on issues of faith and culture in The Atlantic, USA Today,, and The Blaze. Taunton has been quoted by Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, TIME, Vanity Fair, and NPR, among others. He is the author of “The Grace Effect” and “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens.”



Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I am usually busy with speaking engagements and interviews related to my writing. I also travel a great deal.

When did you start writing?

Oh, my. In early childhood.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Probably my work with Pulitzer Prize nominee and celebrated historian Forrest McDonald. McDonald guided my graduate thesis and taught me a great deal about the discipline of writing. He believed my thesis publishable—it was—and he encouraged me as a writer, telling me that I was gifted and should consider it as a career. That made a deep impression on me.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

This is actually a question I think about a lot because I chose my writing environments carefully. It is an underrated aspect of the writing process. Your environment affects your mood and your mood affects your writing. Many are the times that I have read a book where it feels like the author has never seen or experienced the things he is trying to describe.

My next writing project is likely to focus on Karl Marx’s life in London. Much has been written about Marx, but the failure of his ideas to take root in his adopted home of Britain—he lived there the last 34 years of his life—remains unexplored. Why did he only have success abroad? The answer lies in the prevailing ideas and attitudes of the Britain of his time.

I will write this book in London not simply because the resources I need will be closer at hand—libraries, landmarks, museums—but I also want to capture the spirit of Marx’s London. That’s not easily done from a ranch in the rural South.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I like to think that I would exercise. The life of an author can be intermittently sedentary. But I’d probably just write more!

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

As mentioned above, the 19th century London of Karl Marx is currently on the table. I am also working on a novel that is chiefly set in rural France and the Bavarian Alps. I have spent a lot of time in both researching that project. Beautiful.

Back to your present book, Around the World in (More Than) 8o Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It, how did you publish it?

Post Hill Press, excited by the projected, wanted the book.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Just a bit. I went to 35 countries in all.

Why was writing Around the World in (More Than) 8o Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It so important to you?

Because I love my country and I think we are committing suicide as a people. Having seen much of the world—I have been to no less than 55 countries—I know what we risk losing.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

In an essay offering advice to aspiring writers, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote: “The great historians, with few exceptions, are those who have not merely studied, but lived.”

As I graduate student, I took this advice to heart. As such, I have lived a life that few can imagine—and fewer still will live. It has been full of adventure, mountaintop successes, catastrophic failures, great suffering, extraordinary love, an eyewitness to a brutal hatred, and so much more. All of these experiences, even the bad ones—no, perhaps the bad ones most of all—give color and texture to one’s writing. More than that, from those experiences flow a wellspring of ideas.

Any final words?

Buy my book!


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