THE SAME PAGE: Lo­cal cou­ple pub­lishes fu­tur­is­tic novel to­gether

Conowingo cou­ple pub­lishes first book of dystopian tril­ogy

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE ANTOSHAK jan­toshak@ches­

To some it may seem a strange ges­ture to ded­i­cate a fu­tur­is­tic, dystopian novel to a 2-year-old daughter. For Kim and John Rodgers, a Conowingo cou­ple who to­gether had their first book (a fu­tur­is­tic, dystopian one un­der the pseu­do­nym K.J. Rodgers) pub­lished in June, it seemed only right.

A lit­tle more than two years ago, while the Rodgers were putting the fin­ish­ing touches on “Mogul,” the first in their com­ing tril­ogy, they ran into a fa­mil­iar prob­lem for nov­el­ists — they couldn’t find the end­ing.

Or at least that was the case un­til Kim, who was at that point far along in her preg­nancy with their daughter Belle, churned out the right one. Dur­ing a meet­ing last week, while they sat at the kitchen ta­ble in the main room of their pic­turesque log cabin, they joked that Belle brought it out of her.

“We didn’t know how it was go­ing to end, and then one day it just came to me,” Kim said.

The story, pub­lished by New York-based Page Pub­lish­ing, fol­lows pro­tag­o­nist Re­gan Sal­va­tore, an al­tru­is­tic 16-year-old, as she be­gins to no­tice her world’s po­ten­tially sin­is­ter flaws. The plot is set some­time in the fu­ture, they said — at least about 20 or 30 years down the road — when tech­nol­ogy has ad­vanced to a point where hu­man health and ap­ti­tude can be op­ti­mized with a med­i­cal in­stal­la­tion called Mogul.

Re­gan’s boyfriend Grant Halden, a com­puter whiz, as­sures her there is no rea­son to dis­trust the lead­ers of the First Re­pub­lic of Equal­ity (FRE), but Re­gan be­gins to no­tice Mogul hav­ing ad­verse ef­fects on her loved ones who have al­ready un­der­gone the pro­ce­dure. “Mogul” chron­i­cles the be­gin­ning of the so­ci­etal col­lapse that fol­lows.

Kim and John, who are both area teach­ers (Kim, 32, teaches English and so­cial stud­ies in Ox­ford, Penn., and John, 34, teaches busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion, tech and com­puter sci­ence at Bo­hemia Manor High School), be­gan writ­ing the book back in 2012. In the years af­ter meet­ing in Pitts­burgh in 2005, they’d be­come dystopian novel fa­nat­ics, read­ing aloud daily from trilo­gies like “The Hunger Games” (Suzanne Collins) and “Matched” (Ally Condie). Then, some­what sud­denly, they were struck with their own idea for a se­ries.

“Hon­estly it was one day over our cof­fee on a Sunday morn­ing [that] we thought it up,” Kim said.

“Started draw­ing out a plot line,” John added.

“Be­ing the English teacher I am, we drew out the plot moun­tain, and we made it go from the first book to the third,” Kim said. “It was hard to de­cide when the first one was go­ing to end, and then when the sec­ond was go­ing to end.”

But it’s easy to see why the Rodgers’s, mar­ried in 2013, make a suc­cess­ful writ­ing team. They have a ten­dency to fin­ish each other’s sen­tences, to ex­pand on each other’s talk­ing points, with­out step­ping on the other per­son’s toes. They don’t set a strict writ­ing sched­ule for them­selves, but they com­mu­ni­cate of­ten about who is writ­ing which parts. For the first book, Kim han­dled much of the de­scrip­tion while John tack­led a lot of the di­a­logue.

They said they’re about half­way through writ­ing the sec­ond, and that they have a Google doc on which they col­lab­o­rate when they’re not to­gether. Some­times they dis­cover that they’ve both un­know­ingly writ­ten the same chap­ter, but for the most part they’re on the same page.

In an in­ter­est­ing twist of fate, the cover of “Mogul” was di­rectly in­spired by a paint­ing Kim cre­ated for John in 2005, just months af­ter they’d met. At the time, she didn’t know why she was paint­ing the head of a fig­ure in front of what might be a road on a moon­lit night.

But it makes more sense to her now. In the first chap­ter of the book, Re­gan has a night­mare and paints that same pic­ture.

“And later on, it all ties back in,” John said.


John and Kim Rodgers (34 and 32, re­spec­tively) stand in their Conowingo home. Kim’s paint­ing in the back cor­ner, which she made for John’s birth­day in 2005, served as in­spi­ra­tion for the cover of their re­cently pub­lished dystopian novel, “Mogul.”

John and Kim Rodgers walk through the land they own behind their Conowingo home.

A closer look at the paint­ing.

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