Marie Q Rogers – Alachua County Writer who writes Science Fiction books over the last several years. She has two stories on Kindle Vella and one of those was also published in paperback. She has been a member of the local writer’s group – Writers Alliance of Gainesville and has been in charge of the Sunshine State Book Festival that the group holds each year in January. She was recently featured as a guest on our Jolene’s Book and Writers Talk Podcast that is available in video on YouTube and audio on Amazon Music, Google Podcast, IHeartRadio, Spotify and Apple.
Award-winning author Marie Q Rogers has nothing better to do than wander the woods of North Florida and think about curious things. Her musings have evolved into Trials by Fire, Quest for Namai, and Season of the Dove. Another novel, Notebooks Hidden in an Abandoned House, is available on Kindle Vella. Her short works have appeared in Bacopa Literary Review, Eckerd Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, and Local Lives in a Global Pandemic: Stories from North Central Florida. She also posts creative non-fiction on her weblog, marieqrogers.com. Under her mundane name, Pat Caren, she has served as President of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, Chairman of the Sunshine State Book Festival, and as a judge for the Royal Palm Literary Awards.
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Amazon Profile: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Marie-Q-Rogers/author/B083BZFK3J
How long have you been writing or when did you start?
I began making up imaginary stories, putting myself in various scenarios, at a young age. When I was about 12, I began writing stories which I didn’t show to anyone, but I did write and illustrate a children’s book which I showed to my parents. They were quite excited about it, but they had no idea about publishing. These manuscripts didn’t survive my family’s move to Florida.
In my early teens, I began making up stories that I’d tell to my brothers and sisters when we “camped out” in the backyard. One eventually evolved into Trials by Fire. I took Creative Writing in high school, then majored in Literature in college. Although I dabbled in writing through the years and made feeble attempts to publish, I wasn’t able to do much until I retired.
Then I got serious and have been writing since. Just about every day, I sit down and write for a few hours before I engage with the world. Rewriting and editing are part of the process. I constantly rewrite and tweak my stories. When people ask if I’m still writing, I say, “Am I breathing?”
What, to you, are the most essential elements of skillful writing?
As a reader, the books/stories I enjoy most have interesting, well-developed characters. These characters can be relatable, more or less, but they must be real. Eccentric characters are great, but there should be a balance between them and more conventional, relatable characters. To me a good plot isn’t enough. The characters need to drive, not just be driven by, the plot. That’s what I aim for in my writing. I always know where my characters are heading, but sometimes I get stuck on how to get them there. They know. That’s when I turn them loose and let them lead me.
Another essential element is accuracy. We fiction writers make stuff up, but this stuff needs to be grounded in reality, even when writing fantasy. When I come across a detail that just isn’t true, it ruins the story for me. I started to read Robinson Caruso when I was a kid but was turned off when he had lions swimming out after him. As an adult, I was able to forgive him and finally read the book. Character traits must be consistent as well. People are complicated and self-contradictory, but even a psychotic character operates within certain boundaries. There are exceptions. Humans and Vulcans cannot mate and produce offspring, but sometimes we have to suspend belief.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
I do as much research as I need to in order to make a story believable, because I can’t know everything. I’m still doing research as I put the final touches on Notebooks Hidden in an Abandoned House. What are the laws governing lead paint removal when renovating a Victorian house? I had to look that up. There are other details in the book for which I’ve consulted experts.
For Season of the Dove, I drove US 441 from Lake City to North Carolina and took notes on towns, topography, and agriculture, so when my characters traveled and interacted with their surroundings, a reader familiar with the locales would not be put off.
When writing Trials by Fire, I read a book about Catholic saints. Called “miracles” by the Church, the saints were recorded as having many of the same psychic abilities as my characters. Maybe that wouldn’t satisfy a scientist, but these ideas are rooted in our culture. Other details in the book are based on science as much as possible.
What advice would you give to a writer working on his/her first book?
Never give up. You may get discouraged, but don’t let that stop you. If your first book isn’t very good, set it aside, work on the second, then go back to the first one after you’ve developed better skills. Be open to the right kind of criticism. Praise feels good, but you need to hear about your weaknesses so you can correct them. Be honest. Don’t try to write something that’s not the right fit for you, no matter how popular it is. You need to write for others, but you also must write for yourself. Ask for help and advice—join a critique pod. That’s the best move I ever made. My pod mates point out weaknesses and inaccuracies in my work, and I’m so grateful! Keep going and believe in yourself. You’ve heard of great writers who received 100’s of rejections before somebody else believed in them. Never give up.
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