Stephen D Rogers has had 844 accepted pieces, which makes me feel very wet behind the ears - in fact it has me wondering where my ears are. If you find them, let me know.
Hold on to your hats:
SDR: As of this moment, you've received 844 acceptances. Talk about your worst rejection.
Stephen D. Rogers: I hate editors who don't reject. Instead of sending a simple "no" and allowing us to send the stories elsewhere, they make us wait until we stumble upon the final table of contents to realize we didn't make the cut. So one time I was certain the story was a winner. Even the story behind the story was a great story. Even the story of writing the story was a great story. I think the guidelines stated that rejections would not be sent out and so I kept checking the site for an update. When I finally found one, and that story was not listed, I was dumbfounded. I was so certain about that story that I stumbled around in a daze for months. And I've never sent that story out again.
SDR: Mainly Murder Press recently released a collection of your short crime fiction, SHOT TO DEATH. What story do you wish had been included?
Stephen D. Rogers: The story I just finished, whichever story that is at the time I consider the question. I'm always most interested in getting the widest possible reading of the story that's most fresh in my mind, because that's the story I'd love to talk about.
SDR: You're filming your story IN AND OUT from DISCOUNT NOIR. What's the color palette?
Stephen D. Rogers: Shades of gray. Questions of morality, questions of responsibility, questions of parenting. Regret. Bone-weary regret.
SDR: So it's a comedy.
Stephen D. Rogers: I did actually laugh out loud once while writing IN AND OUT. He makes a very wry observation. And it's not just there for the laugh. It's true to the character, true to the story, and true to the theme of the story.
SDR: "He." Why doesn't he have a name?
Stephen D. Rogers: Well, I'm sure he does, but I didn't want to include his name. The thing about names is that they tell us something about the person being named. You see the name and you start to fill in the blanks. You respond differently depending on whether someone is introduced as Robert, Bobby, Robby, Rob, Bert, Buddy. With IN AND OUT, as with much of my fiction, I want the readers to discover the character for themselves as they read the story. Especially in flash fiction, where I've got very few words to create that world, and I want the reader to be paying close attention to the words chosen.
SDR: Discuss some of the words chosen for IN AND OUT.
Stephen D. Rogers: My favorite phrase from that story is probably: "A manufactured world of conditioned air and consumers." By switching "air conditioning" to "conditioned air" I was able to say that the consumers were also both manufactured and conditioned. The narrator is not a manufactured and conditioned consumer, and so he is rejected. Rejected by being taken in. I love the tension inherent in concurrent contradictions. Hence the title IN AND OUT, which is otherwise weak I'm afraid.
SDR: Would you rather write or have written?
Stephen D. Rogers: Write. Most definitely. I love to tell a story. I love to craft words. Once the story is written, I enjoy talking about the intricacies of the story, but not as much as writing the story, and not many people are interested.
SDR: We're interested.
Stephen D. Rogers: So the main character of IN AND OUT is standing in the store's parking lot, and a car passes in front of him. He's noting details and says, "she's a smoker but she wasn't smoking at the moment." Me, one time I was standing in a store's parking lot and I saw a car hit someone and drive away. The only detail I can tell you is that the car was white. I'm just amazed how he noted details and analyzed them in order to produce a reasoned conclusion.
SDR: You are aware that he's a character, a character you created.
Stephen D. Rogers: Yes and no, but more no than yes. The people I write about are real, which is not to say they're based on real people. They're people in their own right. They're more people than some people. Write about characters and you produce stereotypes. Write about people.
SDR: What question do you wish you'd been asked here?
Stephen D. Rogers: Would you like some more coffee with those supreme nachos?
BIO: Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH and more than 600 shorter pieces. His website, http://www.stephendrogers.com/ , includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.