Jonathan Rogers: Frontier Fantasy
So it’s no wonder when Jonathan reimagined the story of King David in his Wilderking Trilogy, he populated it with feechiefolk—swamp-dwelling, rowdy, fun-loving creatures. Now in The Charlatan’s Boy (WaterBrook Press), he takes you to a time where no one believes in feechies anymore.
That’s bad for con man Floyd and the boy he passes off as a feechie, Grady. When the two hit upon a plan for revitalizing the feechie trade in Corenwald, hijinks ensue.
Grady narrates this distinctively American fantasy (think C.S. Lewis meets Mark Twain) in his own hilarious, mournful way: A couple of times Floyd told me my real mama give me to him because I was too ugly to keep.
“Grady sort of came to me,” Jonathan says. “It’s like he knocked on the door and said, ‘Here I am!’ And Floyd is an amalgam of all those great frontier hucksters.” Yet underneath all of the flimflams and fun of the book is a deep truth. “The idea that this world is full of people who are beautiful and don’t know it. People who think they are unlovely, but they truly are loved, more than they know.”
After getting his PhD in literature, Jonathan spent five years working for a technology company before returning to his first love—stories. “I had my annual review at work and it was not very good. The same week, my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, and I was really struck with how short life was. It seemed like such a waste to spend so much of it doing something I wasn’t very good at, and so far from what I believed my gifts and my calling to be. So I quit.”
Like most authors, Jonathan writes more than just his own fiction to make a living, especially since he has six children, ranging in age from 6 to 14.
His kids are a big part of the audience he writes for—but not the only one. “Sometimes, when I’ve got a funny part I’m considering putting in, I try it on them first, and if they think it’s funny, I put it in. Sometimes they don’t think it’s funny, but I think it’s funny, so I put it in anyway.”
Jonathan is currently writing a sequel to The Charlatan’s Boy (in stores fall 2011) as well as sharing funny stories and feechie sightings on his blog, Jonathan-Rogers.com. He also contributes to a website called The Rabbit Room, a group of authors, songwriters and artists who share creative vision and spur on each other.
And it is vision and worldview that Jonathan hopes to pass along to readers. “I always hope to expand a reader’s vision of what the world might look like,” he says. “For all the tragic things we see around us, the universe, in the end, isn’t a tragedy, but a comedy. Which is to say, it ends better than we could have ever hoped it would end. In the end, it’s grace and love that really prevail, not the sadness and the hurt and the loneliness. I think that’s the vision of the universe that can fuel a whole career for a writer.”—Katie Hart