Scrabble. Are you any good at it? I thought I was—until I played with Jonathan. Early on in our “courtship,” competitive me challenged my now-husband to a game of Scrabble or two…between us here at JRW, I was always pretty good at it and figured it would show him I was not just a pretty face. (Joke, okay? Joke.)
Anyway, that lasted about two games. Game three ended with me yelling “Earthquake! Earthquake!” and shaking the board until all the tiles scattered. Jonathan was too good. No more Scrabble at our house!
So I’m gonna set him up now, mano a mano, with Stephen D. Rogers. (Two men enter—one man leaves.)
Because I have just learned that if Stephen D. Rogers asks you to play Scrabble, don’t. And you’ll see why if you read his bio. But he probably won’t have time to challenge you to beat him at triple word scores, because he’s probably writing YET ANOTHER short story!
More than five hundred of his stories and poems—five hundred!-- have been selected to appear in more than two hundred publications, earning among other honors two "Best of Soft SF" winners, a Derringer (and five additional nominations), two "Notable Online Stories" from story South's Million Writers Award, honorable mention in "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror," mention in "The Best American Mystery Stories," and numerous Readers' Choice awards.
So, obviously, there’s not much time for Scrabble. But Steve’s a member of Mensa AND the National Scrabble Association. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But question is—did Steve learn how to play Scrabble as a kid? He says it was only after reading a certain review that he saw a pattern in his own short stories. And it has to do with— LIFAYM. I mean: FAMILY. (But you knew that.)
Steve: I never realized something about my own writings until a reviewer pointed out that many of the stories in SHOT TO DEATH revolved around family, but they do. The mother who kills in SMOKING GUN; the father who absents himself in BREAKDOWN; the young adult who attempts to flee her parent in TENANT AT WILL.
As I consider each of the stories in the collection, recall stories that have appeared elsewhere, I see again and again the trend and theme that crime begins at home.
Of course it makes sense. From the moment we're born, we're competing with family members for emotional and physical sustenance. It is within the framework of the family unit that we first learn -- or don't learn -- how to share, how to play nice, and how to get what we want.
Our family teaches us about customs, morals, and laws. We test limits to see how far they can be bent and what happens-- or doesn't happen -- when they're broken.
Then we enter the school system and go through the process again.
Enter the workplace and go through the process again. Start our own families and go through the process again.
All of which brings several questions to mind.
How big a part does family play in what you write or choose to read?
If you write, have you found family situations and personalities slipping into your fiction? If so, was it accidental?
Also if you write, does your family ever point at your fictional situations and personalities claiming to be the spark for what's on the page? If so, how often are your family members correct?
When you read, do you find families that echo your own? For better or for worse?
And there's no need to push. Everybody will get a turn to answer the questions, assuming they've finished their vegetables.
HANK: And I want to know—is your family good at Scrabble?
(Tomorrow: NancyMartin! explains it all to us..)
Stephen D. Rogers mystery short story collection SHOT TO DEATH (31 stories of murder and mayhem!) is now out from Mainly Murder Press (http://www.mainlymurderpress.com/) SHOT TO DEATH has been described as "New England noir" (Richard Helms), "terse tales" (Linda Barnes) of "the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared" (Kate Flora).