Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Author and Reform Rabbi, Roger Herst.
Roger has written nine novels, a series of scholarly articles and lectured extensively in academic and non-academic circles. He is an ordained Reform Rabbi with a doctorate in Middle Eastern History, holding undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew Union College. His home for the past 30 years has been Washington, DC where he lives with his physician wife. A son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons reside in Seattle.
His books include A Simple Formula for Raising Happy Children , Ghost Sub, Rabbi Gabrielle’s Scandal (Book I) , A Kiss for Rabbi Gabrielle (Book II) , Rabbi Gabrielle’s Defiance (Book III)
Rabbi Gabrielle Commits a Felony (Book IV), Rabbi Gabrielle Ignites a Tempest (Book V), Destiny’s Children: A Saga of Early California Destiny’s Children: A Saga of Early California and his most recent novel Nunavut: An Arctic Thriller.
Norm: Good day Roger and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing novels and why have you been drawn to writing novels? What keeps you going?
Roger: I wrote a short story that an agent loved, but said the New York short story market was oversold. She recommended I write the short story into a novel which was purchased by Doubleday as status 1sq. I love a good story and the craft of creating stories.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer? As a follow up, where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Roger: I start with plot, then shift to characters. I read, read, read, but never do research.
Norm: What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Roger: Like many writers I become absorbed in my story and the characters that populate them. I have my computer read back my writing to me electronically.
Norm: Do you write your stories to express something you believe in or are they just for entertainment? As a follow up, what matters to you about your stories?
Roger: I write about an idea I might have had 20 years before, and the idea intrigues me enough to fashion a story around it. It’s important that the stories track well and don’t confuse my readers.
Norm: Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan?
Roger: I usually know where I’m going, though that may change as the story takes on body.
Norm: Who or what has influenced your writing and how has your environment/upbringing colored your writing particularly the fact that you are an ordained Reform Rabbi?
Roger: I was influenced by biblical narratives that I felt were skeletal and needed flushing out. Rabbis often teach through stories, which I found to be more effective than sermons.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Roger: You will never know until you try. We all fail before we succeed. Know that you have a sustainable story and not just a situation before you.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
Roger: Of course. We write to convey ideas. Our stories must touch a reader in some way, otherwise he/she don’t keep reading.
Norm: What motivated you to write the Rabbi Gabrielle series and are the characters and stories based on people you know or your experiences?
Roger: I avoided Jewish stories for most of my career, fearful of washing dirty laundry in public. That fear eventually dissipated and I felt comfortable writing about a rabbinical experience I understood.
Norm: Could you tell our audience a little about your most recent novel, Nunavut: An Arctic Thriller and what served as the primary inspiration for the book?
Roger: I learned that Nunavut was the largest track of land ever in the history of the world provided to an indigenous people. Global warming made this region and its Inuit people that much more interesting.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your latest novel Nunavut: An Arctic Thriller?
Roger: They can visit amazon.com or rogerherst.com.
Norm: What is next for Roger Herst?
Roger: I have completed Rabbi Gabrielle, book six, entitled Rabbi Gabrielle Hatches a Scheme, about her experience in the controversial West Bank of Palestine/Israel. It will be published by Dale and Hill about six months after Nunavut, an Arctic Thriller.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Roger: Do you think you have more novels in you? The answer: Absolutely, there’s a story just about everywhere you look. But you must first find it.
Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
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