Friday, March 26, 2010

Pro-File: Stephen D. Rogers

Pro-File: Stephen D. Rogers

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

SHOT TO DEATH, a collection of mystery short stories, was just released
by Mainly Murder Press.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm working on a contempory PI novel. And in the background I'm trying to
sell a World War II PI novel. I wasn't sure whether I should start writing
the sequel to that or something different, and eventually I went with
something different. On other fronts, I just wrapped a gritted-teeth
non-fiction project, and I'm putting together the lectures for a course
on dialogue that starts all too soon.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The greatest pleasure for me is the writing. It's all about the writing.
I wrote long before I was published, and I imagine I'll be writing long
after anyone is interested in publishing what I write.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

All the time I kill, going through the motions, waiting to get back to
the writing.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Rather than advice (for I don't know the answers), I'll share a story.
I was selling books at a fair in the town where I'd grown up, and a lot
of people spent a lot of time talking with me about the book and my writing
and our shared past. Very few people plunked down the $9.95 for the book,
instead spending probably five times that on food, pony rides, games, and
assorted crafts. There seems to be a disconnect when it comes to books.
People don't mind them, just not in their neighborhood.

6. What is the best piece of writing advice you ever got?

I wandered into a lecture at the Bread Loaf writer's Conference and watched
the presenter describe how her entire story was contained within the first
sentence. That was life-altering. I spent much of the rest of the
dwelling on that idea (and hunting through the used bookstore in town).

7. What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever got?

"Write what you love, and success will follow." While I'm familiar with the
the drudgery of writing something only for the pay, I've also written things
that I've loved, that I knew I was the only person who could have produced
those manuscripts, that drew editoral praise for the writing and the
execution, and yet sit on the hard drive unsold.

8. What is the best piece of writing business advice you ever got?

Submit early and submit often. I've worked in a lot of different industries
and companies, and that helped me see product as product. (A rejection means
the editor is declining to publish a particular manuscript for reasons that
may have very little to do with the merit of the work and virtually nothing
to do with me). A manuscript is product, and sales is a numbers game.

9. What is the worst piece of writing business advice you ever got?

I'm beginning to wonder if the answer to that is "network." Listen: if I
had to name my favorite writer, I'd probably pick Richard S. Prather, and
while I wish I could have met him, why? I'd shake his hand, thank him for
his words, and then quote passages from his books that he may or may not
remember. But it's what he wrote that's important. Let's say we went to
dinner, or traveled together for a week, or became lifelong friends. All
that time we spent together would be time he wasn't writing, and time I
wasn't reading what he'd written, and time I wasn't writing my own stuff
in the hope that I could return the favor.

10. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?

I'd like to see Richard s. Prather and Donald Hamilton on the shelves
again. That said, I'm beginning to wonder if anybody is in print. I go
into the stores with a notebook filled with titles and I come out with a

11. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
that moment.

I'll have to get back to you on that. ;) I can, however, talk about my
first short story sale. Or my first sale to an anthology. Or my first
sale to an online market. Or my first sale to a foreign market. Or my
sale that earned four figures. Or my first sale that became an award
nomination. But then again, I can't. What I do remember is the creation
of the stories. I remember where I was, the circumstances, the various
thrills and moments of amazement.

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