We are so pleased and honored to feature local Orange County author J. R. Rogers on our blog!
J.R. Rogers is a novelist of historical thrillers, foreign intrigue and espionage set in places not often explored. He has written seven novels and also a collection of short stories. A number of his stories have been published in various literary and online publications.
J. R. was gracious enough to answer a few questions so we could get to know him and his work.
Q. What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
A. I read across many different genres but rarely read novels in the historical fiction genre I write in. Lately read: Devil in the White City (Larson), The Paris Architect (Belfour), The Beautiful American (Mackin), The Nightingale (Hannah), Year One (Roberts)
In terms of influence I began writing short stories and novellas and wrote in this form for many years before transitioning to novel length fiction ten years ago so my influences were primarily short story writers, principally William Trevor who is/was a master of this form. I like short sentences and evocative descriptions. My strength is dialog.
Q. Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
A. I try and write seven days a week usually always between 4am and 11am—my most creative period. I never write at night nor in the afternoons. I use a computer. Typically, after I’ve written a chapter—usually 6 to 10 page—I will print it out to edit. I can’t edit on the screen for some reason. I’ll repeat this process over and over again. The art of writing is in the rewriting is core to the craft. As my chapters accumulate I will print them all out on a regular basis and reread and edit again beginning with chapter one. Also, I have an old high school friend in NYC who taught English lit for many years, and is herself an author, and she reads over every one of my chapters as I write them, citing inconsistencies, grammar, and opinions about the arc of the story and her comments are often included in my revisions. It takes me about a year to research and write a 300 page novel.
Q. What’s more important: characters or plot?
A. They’re equally important, of course. Plot drives the story but characters embellish it.
Q. What do you do when you are not writing?
A. Household projects, reading, movies, cooking.
Q. How did you choose the genre you write in?
A. I have always been a student of history so the past is as interesting to me as the present or the future. So my genre chose me. My fiction is place centered whether it be Cyprus, or Morocco or Eritrea and I am drawn to faraway places.
Q. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A. Probably a basset hound—I love mine and I love animals.
Q. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A. Principally on Twitter where I meet people interested in my novels. I have an Amazon page of course but it doesn’t seem to draw buyers as it once did. I sell more books on iTunes than anywhere else. Lately I’ve read that Apple has become very aggressive about competing with Amazon for authors in the book field so that may explain it. I also have a website which directs readers interested in my books to the several sites where my novels are for sale, including Smashwords, B&N, Google Play, Indigo, Kobo and Scribd.
Q. Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
A. I am at work on my eighth historical novel set in 1943 Lourenço Marques, the capital of neutral Portuguese East Africa. It is an intelligence listening-post and a hotbed of secret agents and spies during World War II. The haunt of adventurers and spies Lourenço Marques gains a reputation as the most alluring city in Africa.
Q. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A. Just sit and write to begin with. Write what interests you not what you think others would want to read. Don’t be overly critical about your work. The more you write the better your writing will become. AND, most importantly, read books, read as much as you write. Discover new genres.
Q. Where is your favorite place to write?
A. In my loft den at my desk.
Q. Have you always lived in Southern California?
A. I’ve lived in SoCal for the last 25 years.
Q. Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to learn more about your books?
A. My website: https://authorjrrogers.com/