Interview with Roger Bruner
Roger Bruner lives in Richmond, Virginia, and enjoys spending time with his wife, Kathleen. He spent his whole work life trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up. Along the way, he taught school, interviewed and counseled job seekers, and programmed computers. He retired at sixty-two from a temporary stint at Target to become a full-time novelist. Two of his young adult novels have been published, Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams. A speculative satire, The Devil & Pastor Gus, came out in 2014. As a guitarist and songwriter, he sings in his church choir, plays bass on the praise team, and plays guitar at a weekly nursing home ministry. We have conducted an interview with Roger.
Which part of the plot inspires you the most when you wrote the speculative satire: The Devil & Pastor Gus?
Without giving away too much of the story, let me share that a good friend asks Pastor Gus to forgive her, no matter what she ever does. He agrees. Shortly after that, she betrays him in a rather bizarre and spectacular way. No matter how badly she has hurt him, he goes to her to make things right again and treats her as if she had never wronged him. His forgiving attitude is so powerful I can never read that part without weeping.
How long did you take to complete 'Yesterday's Blossoms' and 'More of Yesterday's Blossoms'?
Good question. Thirty or forty years.
Both books contain short pieces—poems, plays, essays, short stories—I’d written over a period of years, and most of them had been published individually in magazines or newspapers, but never in a collection.
Compiling these two collections didn’t take very long, though. It was my first experience using CreateSpace to self-publish (my novels are traditionally published), and I’m really pleased at how they turned out. By the way, I used original flower photographs on both covers. Photography is one of my hobbies, but I seldom get to use my pictures for anything special.
Which three people are your favorite characters in your novels?
Kim Hartlinger, the protagonist in both Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams, is one of my favorite characters for several reasons. While I didn’t actually model her after my daughter, Kim reminds me of Kristi quite a bit. And Kim is a strong character—or should I say head-strong?—who needs to make some major changes in her life. In the process, she grows considerably less spoiled and more dependent on God, who helps her accomplish several amazing tasks.
Aleesha Jefferson is another one of my favorite characters from the same two books. She’s the only African American on the mission trip to Mexico in Found in Translation and yet the first (and for a while the only) person to offer Kim forgiveness and friendship when she gets off to a bad start. Aleesha can best be described as a sweetheart of a Christian young lady.
But Pastor Gus, the protagonist of The Devil and Pastor Gus, is probably my favorite character of all. Because he’s middle-aged at the beginning of the story and obsessed with leaving a worthy legacy in the form of a memorable Christian novel, he reminds me of myself at that stage of my life. One thing that makes him unique is the way he righteously resists the Devil for many years and finally yields to him when he thinks it’s the only way to save his church. Too late, he realizes he should have asked God’s help instead.
What are your plans for the nine unpublished novel manuscripts?
The short answer is I want my agent to sell them all to a traditional, royalty-paying publisher.
Realistically, however, my unpublished Young Adult manuscripts aren’t as realistic and convincing as the two published ones. I don’t have a consistent connection with teens, so I lack the resources to keep up with contemporary teen culture. So I’ve decided that writing Young Adult novels isn’t my thing. God has really blessed Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams, but the four YA novels that haven’t been published probably never will be.
Not traditionally, anyhow. They’re all candidates for self-publication at some future date, though. But I need to have enough money to pay for a professional cover and professional editing.
Although several of my “adult” manuscripts (“adult” only because they’re about and written for adults) still have a chance of being published by a traditional publisher, the others will also have to wait until I can self-publish them in the most professional-looking way. At this stage of my writing career—I’m almost seventy—focusing on my WIP (work-in-progress) is more important that fretting about the unpublished manuscripts. Everything I’ve written has helped me to become a better writer, and I thank God daily for allowing me to become an author—a published one.
That’s one dream many people have but fail to work hard enough at to fulfill.
What is 'Found in Translation' about?
Found in Translation is about a spoiled eighteen-year-old girl who goes on a mission trip to Mexico. Because of her carelessness, she fails to learn that the trip has changed. Instead of doing evangelism in a civilized area, they will do construction in a remote village. Making the adjustment is hard, but she ends up doing some amazing things when she follows God’s leading, in spite of a broken arm and the lack of translators in the village.
One of my adult manuscripts, Rosa No-Name, is a prequel to Found in Translation; it will be one of my first self-published novels when the time comes because it’s one of my wife’s favorites. Mine, too, come to think about it.
Who do you recommend to read 'Lost in Dreams'?
Although Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams were both written for teen girls—most of the characters are eighteen—they’ve been popular with adults as well. Because all of my books represent a Christian worldview, they may not appeal to teens who have a negative attitude towards Christianity.
Lost in Dreams is actually the sequel to Found in Translation, although both books are stand-alones. I’ve written a third book for the series, but because my publisher discontinued its Young Adult line, Overshadowed didn’t get published. That’s another one I’m anxious to self-publish eventually.
No wonder. I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua to learn how to more accurately portray the trip taken in Overshadowed. A trip that changed my life and the lives of my characters as well.
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