Interview with debut mystery novelist Kathryn Rogers

Today’s special guest is novelist Kathryn
Rogers. She’s chatting with me about her debut paranormal mystery, Memphis Hoodoo Murders.
Rogers is a Memphis native with an affinity for local BBQ and blues
rock-n-roll. As a licensed therapist, she holds her Master’s in Counseling and
Psychology, and as a licensed educator, she holds her Bachelor’s in Education.
Her experience providing counseling services to the community prepared her to
expound upon the psychological issues her characters wrestle with in her
stories. She currently lives in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband, playful
preschooler, and rambunctious Labrador Retrievers. Her debut novel Memphis
Hoodoo Murders
was published in August 2015 by Sartoris Literary Group.
Welcome, Kathryn. Please tell us about
your debut release.
Hoodoo Murders
like an Alfred Hitchcock story – Memphis style.
Addie Jackson has witnessed people trying
to kill her family her entire life, and now her grandparents’ attackers are
hunting her. The Memphis police are never able to catch these crooks since the
cops have been bewitched to stay away. Her grandparents, Pop and Grandma,
habitually lie to Addie, but she is attentive enough to overhear the secrets
they keep from her. In her predictive dreams, Addie regularly sees future
events, which disturb her, but to her dismay, she has never been able to stop
them from coming true. She often dreams of a dark character, who she is later
shocked to discover is the Man, a devil from hoodoo legend. 

Addie is disturbed to discover she is being
stalked by a witch doctor named Hoodoo Helen. To make matters worse, the more
secrets Addie uncovers, the more danger she finds. Addie presses Grandma for
answers about the power behind the ring and pocket watch she often toys with,
but Grandma remains tight-lipped. Knowing their deaths are imminent, Grandma
makes a deal with the hoodoo devil to take care of Addie, and Addie is later
horrified to discover that her beloved family has been murdered. John, a family
friend, steps in to help Addie, and she soon realizes he knows more about her
family’s tainted past than she ever has. Addie begins receiving cryptic letters
from her deceased grandmother, which reveal a shocking family history revolving
around slavery, time travel, and magic. 

If Addie can survive jail, her cousin’s
abduction, threats from a menacing gang, corrupt law enforcement, and hoodooed
attacks, maybe she can finally dream of a future where she will be safe and
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea
for Memphis Hoodoo Murders hit me like a lightning bolt at 5AM in the
summer of 2008. I was in a fishing boat with my husband on the Ross Barnett
Reservoir in Brandon, Mississippi; he’s the fisherman – not me, so I always
have a book or two with me since I like to read while the boat rocks. It’s a
running joke that when we go fishing, I doze in the boat until at least 8AM
since I am certainly not the morning person in our relationship. However, this
day was different, because I sat straight up in the boat and announced to him
that I was going to write a book. He raised an eyebrow and said, “That’s great.
You should do that sometime,” as he tried to figure out why his wife was alert
at this ungodly hour. However, he didn’t understand that I intended to start
immediately. I grabbed a flashlight, a legal pad, and a pen and began writing
in the dark, because the story was calling to me, and it was too loud to
ignore. I had always wanted to write a book, but I had not received an idea I
felt was worth reading until then. This was seven years ago, and I have been
writing about that story and those characters ever since.
Excerpt from Memphis Hoodoo Murders:
If I told you that people had been trying to kill my family
and me my entire life, you would probably just think I was being paranoid, but
it’s not paranoia if it’s real. 
healthy people run for exercise, and oftentimes energetic individuals run for
fun. In my neck of the woods, you run just to stay alive. Today I only hoped
that the gang members didn’t murder me so I could make it home in one piece. My
legs were pumping so hard I thought they
might fall off.
 Grandma and Pop would
tell you I’m petite and pretty when really I’m short and perfectly ordinary. I
don’t look anything like them except that we are all small in stature, though
I’m so little I look like a shrimp by comparison. I have straight, brown hair
with no bangs, smooth skin, and sharp, green eyes. I’ve never dressed fancy as
I’ve never had much to begin with. Besides, in my neck of the woods, when you
get something shiny, folks try to take it or talk about you for having it, so the
more you blend in, the better off you’re bound to be.
“Hey, short
stuff! You with the ponytail! I told you to get over here!”
It was my
favorite neighborhood thug heckling me.
Just don’t
trip. Whatever you do, don’t trip, Addie.
The limb from the fallen tree did not hear my inner
monologue, because my foot caught on the log and slung me onto the sidewalk.
“I told you
there was no point in running from us,” he said coldly. “We always
get what we want.”
I winced in
pain and grabbed my right knee, which was running red. I felt like a bleeding
fish in the middle of a shark tank.
Show no
fear. Don’t cry
I forced myself to stand and face my antagonists. Their
clothes and tattoos were clearly reflective of the Memphis gang, the
Skullbangerz—not that I would be privy to any admission from
them about this.
“Ouch! Looks
like you got a boo-boo,” said a slim, jumpy guy, eyeing me from the stems
up. “Want me to kiss on you to make it all better?”
 “No, thanks—you’re really not my type,” I
said, thankful I had enough spirit to sound snarky.
“Oohh, she’s
a feisty one. I like that in a lady,” he toyed dangerously with me.
What exciting story are you working on
I have
another story I’m working on right now, but it’s top secret at the moment.
Fair enough!
When did you first consider yourself a
I have been
writing for as long as I can remember, and my childhood dream was to write
books. However, I later went into education and counseling, because I wanted to
help people, so I now have a career as a therapist and a passion for writing. I
enjoy the creative outlet which writing affords me, and it gives me a natural
high I don’t get anywhere else. 
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I provide
counseling services full-time and write in the evening and on the weekends
whenever I have a spare moment. My work day consists of helping people get back
on the paths they were meant to be on, encouraging folks when they are
downtrodden, and providing supportive therapy to clients of all ages. My
experience as a therapist has played a pivotal role in developing my ability to
put myself in other people’s shoes. This is particularly beneficial in writing
as it helps tremendously in understanding why people would respond in a
particular way, what they might be feeling, what motivates them, what their
flaws and strengths are, etc.
I’m a
Memphis, Tennessee native currently living in the Jackson, Mississippi area
with my husband, preschooler, and two dogs. I love to drink coffee, listen to
music, go to the movies, spend time reading, and enjoying family and friends.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I will
write wherever I am if an idea hits me. If I’m in the grocery story, I scribble
what the characters are saying down on the back of my shopping list. If I’m in
traffic, I will pull over and write on the back of my fast food receipt. If I
wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I type it into the notepad on
my smart phone. I tell my husband, “Hold on a minute” a lot whenever something
hits me that I want to write down before I lose it. I can always edit it later,
but I can’t edit what I don’t write down.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
Growing up,
I kept my nose in a book a lot. I wanted to create mysteries like the Nancy
Drew stories I loved so much. I am excited that I am finally getting to do just
that. My Mom used to joke that she needed to get me a sign advertising that I
could dish out advice for 5 cents like Lucy on Peanuts since I was always
trying to help somebody. I suppose it’s no surprise that I am now a counselor
and a writer.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
It seems
that most of the time I talk to readers about my writing, they tell me how they
have always wanted to be a writer but aren’t sure how to pull it off, and they
want advice about how to make it. I always tell them that the writers who
become authors are the ones who didn’t quit. It took me seven years and three
re-write’s with countless edits before Memphis Hoodoo Murders was ever
under contract for publication. I could have given up countless times, but the
story haunted me and wouldn’t leave me alone.
Stories of
writers like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer who were Mom’s like myself and
who made it in the writing world gave me hope when I felt like giving up. So,
if you want to get published, don’t give up. And if you feel discouraged, read
about people we would never have heard of if they had accepted defeat. All of
this helped me keep going when it would have been much easier to quit.
I love
connecting with readers on social media. I am quite active on both Twitter and
Facebook and am very responsive to messages with both sites. As soon as I have
other novel news I can make public, I promise to share it with everyone. I plan
to keep writing for a long time.  

Thanks for being here today, Kathryn!

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