måndag 18 november 2013

Gästbloggaren: Charlotte Rogan

Hennes debutbok Livbåten har gjort internationell succé. Nu finns den på svenska. Och författaren själv gör ett gästspel i Bokboxen! Vi välkomnar varmt Charlotte Rogan:

Am I like Batman? This question came up in a recent Swedish interview, and I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

For twenty-five years, I wrote mostly in secret, retreating when I could to the “bat cave” behind my garage and tapping out a total of five unpublished novels. For twenty-five years, I created characters. I made their lives miserable, and then I saved or destroyed them. So yes, I am like Batman, at least in some ways.

My primary identity during those years was as a stay-at-home mother of triplets. I dressed in jeans and jogging shoes and drove my children to school on weekdays and to soccer games and play dates on the weekends. I cooked their dinners and packed their lunches and shopped for supplies for the dreaded school projects. “Okay!” I would say, trying to keep the panic from my voice. “You each need to build your own model of the Acropolis, do you? Well, let’s get started!” Batman would never have been terrified by a middle school assignment, so no, I wasn’t like Batman after all.

The fictional worlds I created seemed very real to me, and my head buzzed with the voices of the characters who inhabited them. I would wake in the night sweating over some horrendous imagined dilemma, and while I protected the kitchen table with sheets of plastic and set out the modeling clay, I was wondering: Shouldn’t I let my poor hero live? He’s a good man, after all—and even if he isn’t completely good, he’s doing his best with what he has, just as we all are doing our best—succeeding at some things and failing miserably at others.

I finished one novel and then another. The twin towers fell, and my characters of the moment hunkered down behind the high brick walls of their gated community, deep in my shocked and paranoid country’s heartland. President Bush was re-elected, and then Obama took his place. One day I found my husband’s criminal law text and became obsessed with two cases where shipwrecked sailors were put on trial after being rescued. The voice of a young woman named Grace Winter came to me and started to describe how she had survived a disaster at sea and now had to save herself in a courtroom as well. I listened to Grace and wrote her story down. I researched the effects on the body of drinking salt water and plotted out the group dynamics of disaster situations. Self-determination, I decided—that’s what people want!

Soon enough, my children were driving themselves to school. While they were applying for scarce places at elite American universities, I was wondering: What are people trapped in an overcrowded lifeboat supposed to do? Can they fight for survival, or is their only moral option to quietly die? This novel was called The Lifeboat, and it was destined for publication. Little did I know that my days of solitary writing were coming to an end.

My children went off to their universities, and I emerged from my bat cave to find a whole world of passionate book people: publishers and editors and librarians, other writers and a wide array of inquisitive readers. We discussed unreliable narrators and ambiguity and whether the dearth of female anti-heroes in literature and film might be explained by the fact that many writers see flawed heroines as damsels in distress—in need of saving, often from themselves.

Most of all, readers wanted to know what I thought of Grace Winter, because she was complex and difficult to pin down—and wasn’t she kind of hard to like? To that question, I always reply that I love her. I love her not because she would be my best friend or because I would be glad to sit next to her in a lifeboat, but because she opened my writer’s mind to what a female protagonist can be. I love her because she survived, where I am not sure I would have. I love her because she didn’t need Batman to save her—she took her limited store of resources and used them to save herself.

Charlotte Rogan är den yrkesarbetande trillingmamman som ägnade all sin fritid under tjugofem års tid åt att skriva i hemlighet. När så en vän till sist fick läsa ett av hennes manus tog det inte lång tid förrän hon skrivit kontrakt med ett av USA:s mest välrenommerade förlag. Strax därpå låg Livbåten, hennes debutroman, på både den amerikanska och brittiska försäljningstoppen.
Vill du vinna ett signerat exemplar av Livbåten? Snart lottar vi ut fem böcker här i bloggen. Håll utkik!

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