Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Karla Rogers, the author of Nobody Told Me, A compelling portrait of a woman facing the difficult phases of motherhood. (Read the review here.)
Karla Rogers is a life-long resident of the Pacific Northwest. She lives with her husband and cat Bella who never seemed to grow out of the kitten phase. She has two children, Dylan and Madelyn, who inspired her to write her first novel, Nobody Told Me, by leaving her nest empty and her hands idle, allowing her to revisit her life-long dream of being a writer.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I fell in love with the characters and the town I created so I began to branch off from there. I have one that will be done by summer 2022, a prequel based on a side character from Nobody Told Me. The next one is fully outlined and ready to go and is a prequel based on the main character’s childhood and her relationship with her brother. In total, I expect to have at least four books connected to this one.
What does literary success look like to you?
Since the book release, I have received an incredible number of messages from both men and women telling me their stories. Many of these stories are from mothers who felt like they were the only ones with these thoughts and feelings. A surprising number of them are fathers with younger children who felt like they were now more prepared to be better fathers and husbands thanks to my book. In particular, one reader said I was putting a voice to a specific part of motherhood that is rarely told. That moment right there was all the literacy success I ever needed.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing a novel?
Finding the time. I work full-time in an extremely high-demand job, but I also need to find time for everything else in my life.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
My brother said the thing that stuck with me during this whole process. He’s a musician and he said he does his best work when he writes and sings just for himself. Now every time I’m stuck on where to go in a story, I hear his voice in my head, ”write the story for yourself and nobody else.” It makes the messages from readers about finding comfort in my story even more important. I wrote the story for me, but they read it and saw themselves.
Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?
John Davis, my high school English teacher, was a man who believed in me and my writing in a way that made me believe in myself. It wasn’t until 30 years later that I finally achieved my dream, but the man remains one of my biggest supporters. He’s the reason I love to write, but the reason I wrote this book is because of my brother, Kevon. He knew that I was struggling, dealing with enormous grief and also a newly empty house. Growing up he was a huge fan of anything I wrote and always said I’d be an author when I grew up. He encouraged me to take up a hobby, and said he felt it was time for me to revisit writing. I wrote the character of Miles in my book in his honor.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I like to let other people choose them. I will put a short bio and description on social media and ask people give suggestions, and then either I choose my favorite, or I let someone else. People love to contribute. Nearly every time I ask for help, a suggestion is given that is perfect, one I never would have considered.
Are any of your characters based on real people you know?
All of them. The Fowler family is based on my family. The brother Miles is based on my brother. His relationship with Molly is strongly reflective of our real-life sibling bond. Many of the conversations they have are taken directly from real life. The dog Pepper is even based on his dog. Every character was created based on somebody in my life. The character of Hannah is the only completely fictional character, and the reason for this is because she is taken from another book series that is written by my son, Dylan Rogers. We are collaborating to continue stories in this shared universe with familiar characters from each book popping in and out of all of them. She’s a smaller character in my book, but it shows Hannah’s life before his books begin.
Which scene was most difficult to write? Why?
I have two:
- The scene in which we see Avery change her mind about college based on her mother’s reaction. This part of the story comes about because of specific unspoken reasons and emotions and fears that Avery was feeling, but it’s written from the mother’s perspective, showing her feelings and her interpretations. I worried that it would seem strange that she would change her mind so suddenly because of her mother; however, I’ve had this scene pointed out specifically to me as one of the favorites because even without being told, you can feel that she is scared too. After all, she’s only 16 still. I nearly scrapped the whole scene multiple times, but my daughter was Avery. She graduated at 16 and went to college across the country. I lived this scene, but to write it? I had to pull from both of our emotions and try to give the reader an opportunity to read between the lines.
- In the second half when she goes hiking, I wrote the whole section and found myself as a reader with some very specific unanswered questions, things that were impossible to show or imply in a narrative written from Molly’s perspective. My intention was to create one chapter from Scott’s perspective, one that could fill in the blanks. After I did that, I wondered what it would look like if I did more? A chapter for everyone else? We could see how they feel, what they think, what they did. I knew I was taking a risk. I was told I should be either using multiple voices throughout or not at all, but I felt it worked. I felt it gave us a chance to see how everyone feels about her, rather than just how she feels and how she thinks they feel.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
The Purple Nose, Chapter 23. Despite it being the last day before they leave, Molly was able to put aside all her negativity and live in the moment. The scene with Avery was a joy to write. I watched my daughter when she read it and she laughed out loud and said I love this, it’s just like us! All the praise I needed. It also gives you a glimpse into some of the events in the second half of the book. Most important though is that Clown Bingo is a real game that we played when the kids were little, and the Purple Nose story is true.
Categories: BookView Review Interview