Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today we have something new for you on the CAN blog. On Thursdays, we’ll be chatting with our members about their latest books and the writing life. We hope this feature will be enjoyable for readers, retailers, and librarians.
Kicking us off in our debut chat is Roger E. Bruner! Not only is Roger a novelist, but he’s also written over two hundred songs. A folk guitarist, he takes his songs on mission trips abroad—and to his local nursing home! So let’s have a chat with Mr. Bruner.
Roger, please tell us about your novel Rosa No-Name (intriguing title!)
Rosa leaves her tiny Mexican village a rejected, illiterate, pregnant sixteen-year-old and returns at twenty a mature, highly literate woman. But can she forgive the villagers for their former ill treatment and help them find a way to survive? And will she find the God she’s been seeking?
Why did you write Rosa No-Name?
My first novel, Found in Translation, left a number of questions unanswered. Questions that weren’t relevant to the story but would’ve made me curious about as a reader, such as why Rosa didn’t have a husband, why her daughter had only one whole arm, and why the villagers were so superstitious about the so-called church, a building they didn’t use for anything.
Since I’d had the answers to those and other questions in the back of my head from the time I started writing Found in Translation, I concluded that writing a coming-of-age book about Rosa to reveal the answers in a relevant way might be well received. Although I wrote Rosa No-Name ten years ago, it didn’t meet any traditional publisher’s needs at the time, and I put it out of my mind. Only recently did I sense God urging me to pursue publishing it myself. Now that it’s out, I have even greater faith that God can do something special with it.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
More than anything, I want readers to gain a greater sense of the need for and the importance of forgiveness. And to become more conscious of the effect of their actions on others, even when they don’t know they’re being observed.
What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Because of the close ties between Found in Translation and Rosa No-Name, keeping the two stories in sync was challenging at times. Usually regarding little things, like which arm Kim broke and which arm Anjelita was missing half of. So I began Rosa No-Name with a prologue explaining that Señor Roger Bruner made a few mistakes in Found in Translation and Rosa has had him correct them in Rosa No-Name, which is presented as a memoir of Rosa’s most important growing-up years.
The greatest challenge, however, lay in the fact that Rosa No-Name includes a small portion of Found in Translation’s story, but told from Rosa’s point-of-view. Taking advantage of two such different viewpoints really kept me on my toes.
I love exploring different viewpoints! What’s your favorite scene in Rosa No-Name?
As a seventy-year-old male, I don’t mind admitting that emotional scenes in books and movies often make me teary-eyed. Several of Rosa No-Name’s scenes affect me that way, bringing me to tears—often tears of joy—no matter how often I read them.
If I were to name my absolute favorite, though, it would probably be the one-paragraph final chapter. Not actually a scene, it’s the finale that not only reminds the reader where Rosa started, but shows what she’s become. I can’t read that chapter without experiencing a strong sense of relief that “She’s made it.”
When you read Rosa No-Name, please don’t skip to the back to see what I’m talking about. If you do, you’ll miss the impact of building up to that ending.
Thanks for not leaving a spoiler! What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
My ideal writing place would be a comfortable recliner where I could put my feet up. To my right would be a small side table for miscellaneous items like my cell phone, ink pens, and the remote control for the stereo. To my left would be a slightly larger table (also the sofa’s end table) where I could set my daily Sonic diet cherry limeade and rest my laptop when it’s not in use. The mouse would sit on the right arm of the recliner, and my laptop would rest on a plastic pad that prevented the heat from reaching my lap. The recliner itself would have a built-in USB charger for my phone, Kindle, and mp3 player.
Oh, wait a second! That’s my actual writing place. I couldn’t imagine having anything more ideal.
Nice! What is one thing about writing you wish non-writers knew?
I wish non-writers knew something about the so-called rules of writing novelists go through such hoops to obey. The rules that turn writers into the most critical of readers because we have trouble turning off our internal editors even while reading other authors’ books. Rules that often keep us from enjoying what might actually be a very good book otherwise.
On second thought, I wouldn’t want non-writers to learn about those rules. I would prefer for the rules not to interfere with their enjoyment of reading the way they do with mine.
Amen to that! What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
Although I’d like to think my musical talents are equal to my storytelling skills, none of my songs have been published or sung by anyone but me. Nonetheless, I’ve used my songs on mission trips to England, Wales, Romania, Nicaragua, and Australia and I post home recordings and videos of some of them on my website.
What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
I read fiction almost exclusively, focusing on suspense and romantic suspense, an occasional cozy mystery, and sometimes a speculative novel if it’s not too weird. I also sometimes read a contemporary women’s novel. (I’ve told Deb Raney that her books are good enough even for men to enjoy.) I don’t generally care for romance novels, however.
I read the Bible through last year but am reading only a chapter or two a day this year. I’m enjoying that more and getting more out of it. Oh, and at the moment I’m reading Fudge-Laced Felonies, a cozy mystery by Cynthia Hickey.
I’m sure your readers can’t wait for more from you! Tell us about your next project.
I had been counting on Rosa No-Name and my first novel, Found in Translation, to promote interest in one another. But then Found in Translation and its sequel, Lost in Dreams, went out of print and the rights were returned to me and Found would soon be impossible to find. Thanks to God’s leading and His amazing timing, Take Me Away Books quickly contracted not only to republish the original Altered Hearts books but also to publish the last two books in the series. The final book hasn’t been written yet.
I don’t know what my new publisher’s timetable is, but I doubt I’ll be doing much of anything else for many months but working with Take Me Away Books to make the complete Altered Hearts series available for the very first time. Writing the final book, tentatively titled The Flowers of His Field, will take the lion’s share of my time and attention. I have ideas…
Great to hear that!
Writing for Him,