an interview with SCR
Sharon Carter Rogers is the psuedonym for the author of Sinner, Unpretty, and Drift. In a recent interview, her answers proved and intriguing and enigmatic as the author herself (or himself) … you get the idea.
Tim George: Okay let’s start right off the bat, who on earth is Sharon Carter Rogers?
Sharon Carter Rogers: Well, that depends on who you ask! According to Internet rumors I apparently have quite a few identities. Some people say that I’m a comic book writer branching out into religious fiction. Others say I’m a retired schoolteacher. Or a woman being sheltered in the witness protection program. Or Dean Koontz slumming in Christian fiction. Or a group of romance writers who wanted to switch to suspense without alienating their readers. Or an actress. Or whatever. (I like the one about how I’m some kind of covert military agent…that one sounds cool.) Although there are some elements of truth in some of the rumors, most people would be disappointed by the whole truth. It’s neither as simple nor as exciting as what people have dreamed up for me! Mostly I’m just somebody with a few stories to tell and a deeply-rooted, complex faith in Jesus.
TG: Let’s try this another way. Rumor has it you’re an Alabama Tide fan. As an LSU fan I just want to say “you’re welcome” for passing Coach Saban your way.
SCR: Well, it’s just good to see ol’ Nicky home where he belongs. (Roll Tide!)
TG: How would you characterize your writing?
SCR: This is hard for me, because I don’t think my writing fits neatly into many of the common categories. On the one hand, I tend to write on religious topics, so I’m most often characterized as a “Christian fiction writer.” Interestingly enough, I never set out to write a “Christian” novel. I always just start writing a story. By the time I’m done, my Christian worldview seems to seep through the words and into the plot. If faith is ingrained in the author, it can’t help being ingrained in the story, I suppose.
Anyway, because I also tend to write fast-paced suspense stories with gritty, occasionally violent scenes, I’m also called a “thriller writer.” I think I’m comfortable with either of those characterizations. My publisher is also touting my newest novel, Drift, as “science fiction/fantasy,” I guess because there’s a supernatural element in it. I’m not as comfortable with that tag, though, simply because I have too much respect for sci-fi writers. What they do is markedly different (and probably more creative) than what I do.
So, let’s see, I’d say an SCR novel is typically characterized by a faster pace, suspenseful situations, complex characters, real-world consequences, and unblinking questions about God. Although reading that description again now, I’m not sure if that’s right either. How ‘bout if we just say my books are stories about what goes on in my mind when I can’t sleep, and leave it at that. J
TG: Your first novel (Sinner) was supernatural in tone while Unpretty was set on more familiar ground. It seems your newest release, Drift, combines the those two elements a little more. Was that intentional?
SCR: Yes. Sinner begins and ends with The Sinner, who is supernaturally imbued with what I call a “harsh grace” from God – something painful but necessary for his redemption. Because of that, the book was supernatural in tone. In Unpretty, I began to worry that I might be relying too much on the supernatural as a contrivance for storytelling, so I strictly imposed a “no supernatural crutches” rule on Unpretty. (Difficult task – especially since parts of Unpretty deal with demonic influences.) That’s why some people were more horrified by Unpretty, I think, because it explores in a more realistic way the depravity of humanity and the question of where God is in the midst of great pain.
I did a lot of research into substance abuse and the artistic mindset to make sure that the things that happened in that book could actually happen. The result was a story that I found both terrifying and hopeful as it wound around the idea that God is “never not present” even in the worst of times. But some Christians (including my own friends) were offended by the gritty, realistic portrayals of violence in that book and they let me know about it! When it came time to write Drift, I decided not to be so literal in my interpretations, and to return to the more “safe” supernatural elements. It’s easier for the reader to disassociate from horrors when they are framed by impossible catalysts.
TG: Drift is a haunting and yet hopeful story. Tell us a little bit about what went behind the creation of Baby Doll and Boy.
SCR: When I sat down to write Drift, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the mythology of The Sinner from my first book. If God had indeed imposed a “harsh grace” on Beverly Scott Thomas, it likely wasn’t a new idea to him. There must have been something in his creation that set a precedent for that action. In my view, it was the Drifters. So (again, when I couldn’t sleep one night), I started thinking about what a Drifter would be like, and where he or she would be found. That’s when I saw Boy in my mind’s eye, sitting beside a fresh grave, cold and miserable. The sight sparked all kinds of questions for me, so the next day I sat down and wrote chapter 1 of Drift. Then I tried to work on a different book (Two Graces)…but I kept getting distracted by Boy. When Baby Doll showed up with Maurits’ gun in her pocket, I was hooked. I actually never finished Two Graces (I turned the first chapter into a short story available on Amazon.com) and instead wrote Drift. (By the way, Maurits’ name is pronounced “Mawr – EETS.” It’s like “Maurice” but ending with a “t.”) And yes, I know that some people ridicule me for the names of my characters, but I can’t help it. Boy and Baby Doll were their names; who was I to change them?
In case your readers are comic book fans, they might be entertained to know that most of the other names in the book (including some of the names of places) are homage to the Golden Age of comic books (1930s-1950s). Someone with too much time on her hands could read up on that era of comic book history and quickly recognize the references. So hopefully that makes up for the unusual names I used in the book. I’m just sayin’.
Oh, and here’s side note about Boy for you. After my publisher read Drift, they were worried that people might think Boy was actually based on a real, theological construct for a group of lesser-known angels. (Despite that fact that Drift is FICTION, and even Boy says plainly right up front “I’m not an angel…”) So I actually had to add a comment in the Reader’s Guide at the end of the book stating clearly that Boy was a “figment of my imagination without any basis in Scripture.” I thought that was pretty funny. It was like when people used to ask me if I’d found the journals of Beverly Scott Thomas on the Internet or at a library. For some the line between fiction and real life is very thin, I guess.
TG: Here’s something I wrote in my review of Drift:
Boy serves as a surreal picture of what it means to feel invisible as so many people in our culture do. Baby Doll is his alter ego: wealthy, well groomed, well educated, and just as much without substance. In the end, Drift is about discovering our reason for existence.
Am I straining too much for ultimate themes or do you see the same correlation between Boy and Baby Doll?
SCR: They say that the reader dictates the interpretation, so if that’s what you see then that’s what it is.
TG: You only got one 1 star review at Amazon for Unpretty. Their problem with the book was it had religion in it. Not the writing, not the characters, not grammar, the religion. Would you like to say anything to that person or others like him or her? (Don’t worry his helpful reviewer rating is 37% and he doesn’t like anything he read apparently.)
SCR: At first I was a little discouraged by the vehemence of the criticism in that review, but pretty soon I just felt sad for the writer of it. What kind of experience with religion does it take to cause you to hate so furiously any association with Jesus – even in a book that’s simply intended to be read for entertainment purposes? If I were to speak with that person, I’d probably ask what’s happened in his life that makes him feel so strongly about the need to censor any discussion of religion in literature. And then I think I’d just listen and let him vent for awhile. After all, he did read half of my book, so I suppose I owe him that much, right?
TG: What is on the horizon for Sharon Carter Rogers and will we ever know who you really are?
SCR: At present, I’m actually contemplating retirement from writing novels. I started a fourth book, called FADED, but my publisher declined to pick it up so I’ve been unmotivated to finish it. But my agent is pressuring me to keep writing, so who knows? Maybe I’ll switch to children’s books or something – that would be fun. J But there’s something attractive about simply disappearing from sight, as it were. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. As for my identity, I suppose nothing is a secret forever. But I’m not planning on telling anytime soon.
TG: Thank your from taking time from your busy schedule of keeping us from knowing who you really are and for giving us a peek under the hood, so to speak, of what makes Sharon Carter Rogers tick.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 8:50 am and is filed under Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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