This week’s interview is with novelist Roger Bruner. Roger has worked as a teacher, job counselor, and programmer analyst before retiring to pursue his dream of writing Christian fiction full-time. A guitarist and songwriter, he is active in his church choir, early service praise team, Sonlight service, and nursing home ministry. Roger also enjoys reading, web design, mission trips, photography, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen. Roger’s first young adult novel, Found in Translation, came out in January; the sequel, Lost in Dreams, came out in August.
Roger, you’re a newly published Young Adult author. . .
That’s right, Eddie. The first two books in my Altered Hearts series came out this year—Found in Translation in January and Lost in Dreams in August. The funny thing is I didn’t set out to write Young Adult fiction and I don’t think of myself as a YA author. Not primarily, anyhow.
Yep. My first two manuscripts were contemporary women’s lit, and I wasn’t aiming at teens when I wrote Found in Translation. I was simply writing what I felt compelled to write. My daughter, Kristi, had just returned from a mission trip to Mexico, and several things about her trip sparked my thoughts in a weird kind of way. Found in Translation grew out of that—first as a short story and then as a novel—even though it’s not about her or her trip.
But Barbour marketed the series for teen girls?
They almost had to. The protagonist and most of the characters are eighteen. Since Barbour was afraid teen girls wouldn’t read a book an older man had written—I’m sixty-five now—they wanted to list Kristi as the co-author of both books. Although she wrote the Foreword to Found in Translation, in which she admits I’m the real author, she didn’t read Lost in Dreams until well after its completion.
I can’t blame Barbour, though. They’re wonderful folks to work with.
That’s funny about Kristi. Does having to share the glory bother you?
It is funny, and that’s probably why I don’t mind. It’s had its advantages—like being able to fly Kristi home from Orlando for a book cover photo with me and count it as a legit business expense. She came again for the first book release, and I think she enjoyed doing the couple of signings she did with me then. I loved having my twenty-four-year-old baby girl at the table with me.
I understand that Barbour is discontinuing their YA line. . .
True, and that’s left me with some unusable story ideas for other books in the Altered Hearts series. No problem, though. I’m delirious about the manuscript I’m working on now.
Yes, but this one’s for teen boys. Misfits isn’t strictly autobiographical, but it has more of me in it than anything else I’ve written. . .largely because it’s about a Preacher’s Kid—actually a pair of them—who considers himself a misfit because of his dad’s vocation. That was me through and through. My teen years might have been miserable anyhow, but being a PK didn’t help.
So Misfits is going to be a real downer? Will that fly with your readers?
A downer? Guess again, Eddie. I have a weird sense of humor, and I’m making Misfits as much fun as anything else I’ve written. What’s going to be interesting, though, is to see how successful I am—writing from a teen boy’s point of view.
Why? Because you’re no longer a teen?
Nope. Because I’ve grown so experienced at writing in the first person female point of view that I can only hope I’m making the switch successfully. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a guy in every way. I know I’m a guy, and I like being a guy. But more than one person has praised my ability to get inside a woman’s head. I once received feedback from a contest judge who apparently thought I was a woman; she criticized the weakness of my male story parts. How funny is that?
Hilarious. How many unpublished manuscripts do you have?
Six in addition to Misfits, which is a little over half-finished. I hope to talk to Jeff Gerke at a conference later this month about one of my favorites—The Devil & Pastor Gus. It’s a speculative novel about a minister who thinks he’s selling his soul to the Devil and almost wins Satan to Jesus in the process. Although it has some exceptionally sad parts, it’s pretty amusing overall. Not to mention being highly imaginative and deeply thought-provoking. Just my modest opinion, of course.
Any last words, Roger?
Like what I want for my last meal before the execution, you mean? Uh, not that? Okay, let me just thank everyone who’s bought either or both of my books. Or read them. Or even just been curious about them. If you haven’t read one, let me assure you I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from adults of all ages—and of both genders.
It’s hard for a new author to become known, but every bit of exposure helps. So, Eddie, let me thank you for this blog interview. I hope I haven’t scared too many of your readers away. *G*