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Member Spotlight: Bill “Hafoc” Rogers

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

My most recent published work is “Squeezer,” a story in the Rabbit Valley anthology Trick or Treat II: Historical Halloween.

Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been reading and writing a lot of detective stories. I had a series of crime stories involving a modern-day character named Derrick Clydesbank. I had also read a fair deal about the Jack the Ripper case. When the call went out for stories about historical Halloweens, those things percolated and produced my story, “Squeezer,” set in “Vixtorian” London.

Of course this is a century and a half before Derrick’s day, in another country, so I couldn’t use my modern characters. I did still slip in a Father Clydesbank, an “Anglican” priest. He is probably one of Derrick’s less dangerous relatives.

The story is also a horror story, and as usual in horror stories I go with whatever horrifies me myself. Some people think horror writers are monsters for being able to think up such cruel and terrifying stories, but I think most of them are just poor fools who are easier to scare than normal.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

When I’m on the trail of something really big I go by the seat of the pants. I follow the characters where they lead, and when they show me where they are going I am at least as surprised by it as any reader would be.

The interesting thing about such seat of the pants writing, for me, is that it is always clear that the characters clearly knew where the story was going all along. I never need to go back to put in hints, clues, or foreshadowing; they’re all there already. The story was complete, hanging out there somewhere, and all I did was write it down the way it happened. I’m not sure whether this is more delightful or creepy.

Of course, as I said, I’ve done crime and mystery stories lately, and those are different. To the extent that a story is a mystery, it is more a puzzle than a piece of literature. Puzzles need clues, forms, shapes, and frameworks. The pieces all have to fit, and you have to decide where the detective and the reader will find them. Mystery stories I plan out in my head in advance, although I don’t write formal outlines for them. A few notes are sufficient.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

The big sweeping adventure tale within which I can get lost. Hopefully my readers will too!

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

I don’t identify with any of them too much, although of course all of them incorporate parts of me.

Probably the character I can come closest to identifying with is Dean Lansen, one of the protagonists in Hilltown, a science fiction/fantasy novel published by Melange Books. In a way this is vain because Dean is something more or less than human, almost godlike within his limited range. However, he feels set apart from humanity, as I sometimes do. Above all else, Dean was a character in some of my dreams and lives in a dream version of a town well known and very dear to me. He may not be me, but he is a close neighbor and I know him well.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Robert A. Heinlein’s classic teen science fiction novels, such books as Starship Troopers; Have Spacesuit, Will Travel; Tunnel in the Sky; Rocket Ship Galileo (space Nazis!) and of course his various short story collections of the era. I don’t think they have influenced my style all that much, but they lined one shelf in a library where I went as a kid, and I read them all at least once. They got me going in science fiction, which led me to fantasy and furry lit.

In fact, my approach to the furry fandom was via science fiction. I wrote and enjoyed stories with alien characters who were more than just small men in green face paint. Good aliens act and think differently because they aren’t human. Good furry characters do too.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters. It is a mystery set in England during The Anarchy, as I believe it is called. It stars her pious clergyman, good detective, and fine human being, Brother Cadfael.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy those furry conventions I visit. I enjoy reading SF, fantasy, and history, messing around with AM radios to see what comes in at night, and sightseeing and all the usual tourist stuff.

8. Advice for other writers?

Read.

Do what works for you. To make people groan, I like to say “There’s no way to do it wrong, that’s why they call it writing.”

Another piece of advice someone gave me (unfortunately I forget whom) also comes into play. Everyone has a certain amount of bad writing in them. Some more, some less, but everybody has at least some bad stuff. You have to write all that out before the good stuff starts coming out. Get to it.

Have fun. It will keep you going.

9. Where can readers find your work?

My stories appear in Rabbit Valley’s anthologies Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat II, and Pulp! I have a story in the FurPlanet anthology Abandoned Places. My novel Hilltown was published by Melange Books, you may find it at http://www.melange-books.com/authors/billrogers/hilltown.html. I had several stories in the online magazine Anthro, at anthrozine.com. That magazine hasn’t had any activity in a long time but the archived stories are still in place, including mine.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

The creativity. Other fandoms are creative and dedicated in following their fantasy worlds of choice, be it Trek, comics, or whatever. They create their own characters to explore those worlds. But in the furry fandom, most of us create the worlds too.

Check out Bill “Hafoc” Rogers’ member bio here!

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