THE SAME PAGE: Local couple publishes futuristic novel together
Conowingo couple publishes first book of dystopian trilogy
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.