I’m just an almost sixty-five-year-old man who retired early to write Christian fiction.
Tell us about your latest release, Lost in Dreams.
Lost in Dreams is basically a continuation of Found in Translation, the first book in my Altered Hearts series. Kim Hartlinger is returning from a life-changing mission trip to Mexico, only to face a major catastrophe that she thinks she’s responsible for. She ends up with a major fatigue problem, but comes out of it at the prospect of a mission trip to California. That trip has its own share of problems, though, and the ultimate question is what will free Kim from her guilt and allow her to live a normal life again.
Lost in Dreams is an interesting title. How did you come up with it?
Thanks, Kara, but I have to be honest. My editor came up with it. The Barbour team didn’t think my original title, Prancing with Pebbles, would resonate with teen girls. Even though I’d taken great pains to make Pebbles an irresistible title, I didn’t want to be a problem author—someone my publisher would find hard to get along with. And I liked Lost in Dreams fine, so I didn’t protest. It isarelevant title since Kim suffers periodic nightmares along with her fatigue.
Titles are not as easy to come up with as many may think. How long did it take you to write this novel?
Asking that made me curious. *G* I keep all of the old versions of my manuscripts and increase the version number by one every day. It looks like Lost in Dreams took about five months. That’s not taking into consideration the fact that I’d written the first chapter many months earlier.
I want teens to think about how important forgiveness is: God’s forgiveness, our forgiveness of one another, and—not at all least—forgiveness of oneself. But I also want them to appreciate the importance of establishing and maintaining a good relationship with their parents—and keeping the channels of communication open no matter what. Another important take away is the fact that jealousy not only hurts the individual, but can have a gigantic detrimental effect on a team.
This is your second novel. Was there anything you learned from writing, publishing and marketing your first novel that made it easier this time around?
I learned a little extra patience. At first, I didn’t fully appreciate the way an independent editor had edited Found in Translation. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was just helping me avoid potential reader objections. I also learned that it’s impossible to do enough marketing. I have to do what I can—and what’s appropriate for me—and leave the rest in God’s hands. That’s where it should have been all along, don’t you think?
Yes, the perfect place for all our concerns is in God’s hands, but oh, it’s so hard leaving them there! But thankfully, our God is a God of patience. Speaking of patience, writing for the young adult market has its challenges. There are so many other types of media vying for their attention. What would you say to urge them to read your novel?
That’s an interesting question, Kara. And my answer requires a bit of explanation.
I didn’t really have teens in mind when I wrote the first book. But because it had an eighteen-year-old protagonist, it couldn’t be marketed any other way. Adults seem to enjoy this series just as much as teens. I suppose I was a little more teen-conscious when I wrote Lost in Dreams, but I definitely didn’t and don’t write down to teens.
Neither do I worry about trying to capture or imitate teen culture. So perhaps I would say this to young adults: “You’re adults in the making. You’re almost there. I’m not pretending to be a teen anymore, and I know things have changed a lot in the fifty years since I was one. But we’re both human, and I want to share my humanity with you, especially as it relates to spiritual issues.”
I think the best answer to your question is not what I would say to urge them to read my books, but what other teens would say. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and—if my books touch lives the way I pray they will—teens will tell their friends.
What an inspiring answer. One that I hope adults and teens alike will take to heart as they read your novel and share it with others. What are some other novels that you’ve written?
I’ve written six other manuscripts. I wrote one as a prequel to the Altered Hearts series but it’s not even really a Young Adult novel. I have one other manuscript I consider strictly YA, one that’s kind of on the border, one that probably qualifies as speculative fiction, and several that probably fall into the category of general contemporary fiction. One of those may even be women’s lit. All of it is strongly Christian, of course. I enjoy reading an occasional secular novel—I’m an avid Harry Potter fan (am I permitted to say that here?) —but nothing else is important enough for me to write about.
Sure, you’re allowed to say that here! Prayerfully, there are other Harry Potter fans reading this site. Are there other projects you’re currently working on?
Absolutely! Although I’ve plotted two more novels in the Altered Hearts series and written about 30% of the third book, Barbour hasn’t offered a contract on them yet. However, they seem interested in a novel for teen boys that’s may be ten percent finished. Because I’m a Preacher’s Kid and this book is about a pair of misfit PKs, it’s a lot of fun to work on. I tried out the first few pages of it on a man friend recently, and he died laughing at all of the high school memories it brought back.
That sounds like a good read, so I can’t wait for that one to be released. Some of the most recent books I’ve read have made me cry and I loved them, but I’d rather have a book in one hand while holding my stomach with the other. Laughter truly is the best medicine. How may our readers contact you?
I’d love to have your readers visit my website at RogerBruner.com or friend me at Facebook.com/roger.bruner. I also have a Facebook author page. One can never have too many good friends. Especially if they’re big readers. *big smile*
Thanks for stopping by Roger. Hope to see you here again soon!