Kevin Peter of Moterwriter.com caught up with author Roger Blake and got him to talk a little about his book Lensfogger’s BEST. This is what transpired in the tête-à-tête with the author.
Kevin Peter: What’s a typical day in the life of Roger Blake like?
Roger Blake: I’m retired but spend most of my day pursuing one creative project after another. My main writing project is an autobiography One Helluva Life that will be released this fall. The rest of my time is spent pursuing art, photography or traveling.
KP: Tell us a little about your background?
RB: It’s complicated. I was taught early on that I could do anything I set my mind too, so I set my mind on doing lots of things – from being a naval aviator and government executive to various routine jobs to survive while I indulged my creative nature. I’m one of the many Vietnam Veterans who returned from the war damaged physically and mentally, which has made everything more difficult. My brightest moments have been as an artist, photographer, gallery owner and writer. If I could impart a message to others, it would be that the constant pursuit of my creative process has been a tremendously fulfilling way to dedicate my life.
KP: How would you describe your writing process?
RB: My stories begin with a germ of an idea. Usually, I will just start writing without any clear plan for where the story will lead.The ending is rarely where I intended to go. The process is exciting because it allows for opportunities and inspiration to lead me along anunexpected journey.
KP: Who are the writers that have inspired you?
RB: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Hemingway. I seem to be too obsessed now with creating my own works to do much reading. As a late starter, I’m driven to spend whatever time I have left to make my own statements.
KP: What do you think is the best way to influence others, through your actions and your deeds or through your words?
RB: Actions and deeds indeed speak louder than words because they are experienced by most of us through images on various media outlets. Words also have a powerful ability to influence, particularly when they are put together in phrases that create images in our minds. Words can motivate actions including peace and war, love and hate or inspire mankind to reach lofty goals.
KP: How would you describe your book ‘Lensfogger’s BEST’ to a new reader?
RB: ‘Lensfogger’s BEST’ is an eclectic anthology of twenty works that range from humorous to intensely serious. Even the more quirky or frivolous pieces leave the reader with a thoughtful message or two. Some are only a few pages long, but others are novellas of approximately 40 pages in length. The main character, Dodger Lensfogger, is the only connection between the stories, so the reader can put the book down at any time or read it in any order.
KP: Tell us more about Dodger Lensfogger. Who is he?
RB: Dodger Lensfogger is my alter-ego. He represents the many characters of who I wish myself to be in the fantasy world of my mind. His personality is humble, courageous, unassuming, curious and sometimes painfully naïve. His whole purpose in life is to inspire justice and peace for downtrodden peoples throughout the world.
KP: What’s your favorite essay or story from this book and why?
RB: I love them all. However, of the humorous pieces I would give the nudge to Lensfogger Enterprises because Dodger’s unique personality is well-developed and the writing style represents many of the stories that follow. Of the serious works, Faces is closest to my heart because I too am a victim of PTSD.
KP: Do you feel there’s a market for short stories and essays? Is there a target audience in mind?
RB: There’s always a market for a well-written story whether it’s short or long. In our sound-bite world, brevity seems inbred in our thinking. My target audience is folks who might want a book to read in their spare moments - like while they are commuting or stuck on a flight. The entire book can be read in a few hours. Regardless of its length, I hope my readers will find each work fully-developed and satisfying.
KP: Can such an audience influence culture? Can they bring about changes in our thinking?
RB: They can, but I doubt that Lensfogger’s BEST will achieve that level of importance. Perhaps my audience will prove me wrong.
KP: How did you compile the essays that got selected in this book? And do you have any plans to include ones that got left out in another book?
RB: These works were simply the favorite short stories in my collection. The way they work together just seemed natural. The more serious pieces provide needed relief from the light-hearted humor of the others and vice-versa.I have other stories percolating that may find their way into another collection – Lensfogger’s BEST 2 – or something similar.
KP: I felt Northland and A Thanksgiving for Contemplation were gems of novellas hidden amidst its midst. Would you be interested in writing longer stories in the future?
RB: Thank you. I’ve received comments from others that the shorter stories were the most unique and fun to read. Each reader will have to make his own judgments. My current writing project is my autobiography – One Helluva Life – comprising about 300 pages that will be released this fall. It is basically a series of anecdotes that comprise my life. Like Lensfogger’s BEST, there are tragic moments mixed with humor that together provide a compelling account of my times.
KP: Reading anything at the moment?
RB: I’m on a creative roll at the moment which doesn’t leave much time for serious reading. It’s the time in my life for creating rather than entertaining myself with the works of others.
KP: And lastly, thank you for parting with your valuable time Roger Blake and all the very best for your book.
RB: Your perceptive questions have inspired some soul-searching on my part. Thank you, and thank you also for your encouragement.
Connect with him at –http://www.lensfogger.com/