Wisdom from a Wordsmith – Episode 15

I “met” Steven Rogers through a mutual Facebook friend and author, Deena Adams, who has been so supportive to authors in her Facebook group, MARATHON – A Community of Christian Fiction Writers and their Cheerleaders. Steven contacted me regarding his novel, Into the Room, and I am so glad he did! His book is quite lovely, with realistic, clever, and sometimes heartbreaking descriptions of his main character’s journey through both Israel and the spiritual healing of addiction. I have so many good things to say about Into the Room: You can check out in my review on Amazon and Goodreads!

Steven Rogers is a former business executive who always enjoyed writing, but never expected to one day write Christian fiction. Into the Room was released in May 2021 by Elk Lake Publishing. Into the Room tells the story of Ben Cahill, an alcoholic searching for redemption on a trip to Israel. In its initial release, the book has been well received and reader reviews have an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon. Steven has been interviewed in many different media venues, both in print and online. I am thrilled to host Steven and his inspirational novel on my blog!

Enjoy the interview and ‘stay tuned’ for a giveaway opportunity at the end!

What would you like your readers to know about you that isn’t already said in your author blurbs?

Well, you got me thinking with this question! I’d say there are two things.
First, when I began writing, my ambition was to be the next Stephen King. I wrote short stories about a serial killer, flies in a hotel room punishing a workaholic, and an average man avenging the death of his family. My first novel (which sits unpublished in my office) was a time travel/historical fiction hybrid. However, while on a flight to visit Israel, I asked myself a question – what would happen if I was an alcoholic, fresh from rehab, who found myself on this trip? Over the next twenty minutes, I sketched out Ben Cahill, the main character of Into the Room. In those twenty minutes, I became a writer of Christian Fiction. While I’ve always read in the genre, I never remotely considered writing a faith-based story. I guess this confirms that old line, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Secondly, I’m one of those people who loves public speaking. There’s something about the adrenaline rush of standing in front of a crowd, of any size, and having to “fend for myself” while either explaining something or answering questions. I have no idea why the experience is so much fun for me or how my affection for it developed. Either way, I love being a speaker and wish it’s something I could do more often.

What inspired you to become an author?

Although I spent most of my adult life in the business world, primarily as an accountant and administrative executive, I was always a bit of a “square peg in a round hole.” As my older brother once put it, “You’re a born classics major,” and I’ve always been drawn to the artistic and creative side of life. As  a result, my lifelong love of reading fiction led to a fascination with the craft of storytelling. I tremendously admire anyone who can draw me into a fictional world. Over the years, I spent a lot of time reading books and watching interviews about how writers write and what makes them successful. When you combine this with what can only be described as an overactive imagination, the desire to write my own stories organically developed.
During my working life, I dabbled with writing fiction until, after retiring from the corporate world in 2016, writing became my primary occupation. As I worked on putting stories down on paper, I realized how much I enjoy the process. Said another way, once I started writing I realized I had no other choice. I’m just wired to try and tell a story.

Tell us what you would like readers to “take-away” from your novel Into the Room.

Above everything else, I’m hopeful readers enjoy the story. I believe the most important objective in writing fiction is to get people away from life for a while. In addition, though, I’d like Into the Room to meet readers where they are in their faith journey. Over the few months since the book has been released, I’ve been surprised at the variety of feedback I’ve received from readers. For example, some focus on the travel part of the book and the experiences the characters have as a result of being in Israel. Others primarily discuss Ben and the other characters’ walk with God. There’s also a third group I was not expecting – the story has resonated with some individuals I know in the recovery community. 
Most importantly, I pray the story helps a reader improve his/her relationship with God. Into the Room is a book about stepping into God’s presence. I know writing the book brought me closer to God and clarified a lot of questions I was grappling with in my own life. Maybe, in some small way, Into the Room can do this for others.

The back cover blurb of Into the Room

What advice do you have for aspiring authors? 

While I still consider myself a new writer, here’s what I would offer to those starting out. To begin – practice, practice, practice. While seminars and courses are extremely useful, the only way to develop is to grind away at putting words on paper. This helps you develop your specific voice and style. Secondly, write the story/book you want to write. There’s no chance everyone who reads your work will like it. You should make sure you do. Also, you’ll get a lot of input from beta readers and everything they pass along is useful. However, they have their own biases and perspectives. For me, if I hear something from more than one person, I’ll definitely make a change. If the advice comes from a single individual and I’m uncomfortable with the input, I’ll follow my preference. Finally, if you can afford to pay for a professional editor, the investment is well worth the cost. I did that with Into the Room and not only did I end up with a better book, I also found my publisher through my editor. 

Thanks for all the great advice, Steven! I love how you allowed God to change the direction of your writing — from Stephen Kingish to inspirational. Your interview is a great reminder that we will never regret giving God the reins to our talents and and purposefully making Him the travel planner of our life journeys.

Into the Room is available on Amazon. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Into-Room-Steven-Rogers-ebook/dp/B096341MQL/

If you are interested in reading Into the Room with a group, here are some great discussion questions that Steven has provided on his website: https://steven-rogers.com/discuss/

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

I have been a fan of journeying and pilgrimage stories since I read Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales while I was in high school. Last year, I started my own modern day version that takes place on the Appalachian Trail, with a troubled family whose patriarch asks for a summer of camping and hiking without technology — in a last effort to share the light of Christ with his lost loved ones. I am so enjoying my time spent with this family, the beautiful nature scenes and revealing talks, in this novel that I am writing in honor of my father and grandfather — they have always told the best stories!

Can you recommend any writings that focus on a lifechanging excursion? I would love to meet new authors of both fiction and nonfiction who write about a journey! (More well-known authors too!) Answer this question with a comment here on my blog for the opportunity to win either an eBook or a paperback of Into the Room.

(Each commenter will be assigned a number which will be chosen using a random number app on November 1st. The paperback option is only available for those in the continental US due to postage rates.)

Of course both Steven and I would love it if you would subscribe to our blogs as well! There is a ‘follow me’ button about three-quarters of the way down Steven’s page: https://steven-rogers.com/

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