An interview with Dawn Rodgers

SN: Sisters Noire (unless otherwise indicated, interviews conducted by Ed Evans).

DR: Dawn Rodgers

SN: Hello Dawn. Could you give us a little bit of background on you?
DR: I’ve been writing novels since 1988 and had some success with writing competitions, but not had enough luck to get a publisher or agent interested.  I’ve self published a poetry book called Shuddersfield which is a poetry, prose and photographic book on my local town of Huddersfield.  I’ve also written a book of new words called the Anti-definitionary.


SN: Please briefly explain what it is you write.
DR: I mainly write novels, poems and songs.


SN: Generally what genre or genres does your work fall under?
DR: I mostly write sci-fi and fantasy novels, one fantasy for children and a Gothic comedy novel.  I’m currently writing folk songs as a break from novel writing.


SN: You mentioned that you have run weekend writing workshops, can you explain a little more about them?
DR: The writing workshops were all day events which included writing exercises on different subjects, then reading sessions and chats during breaks where we shared food.  I’ve not done any for a while but was thinking of starting them up again if I can get a good local venue.


SN: What inspired you to start writing?
DR: I believe that I’ve always been a writer, but couldn’t express my imagination until I learned to write.  I wrote my first scifi story when I was 8.  Since then I’m so full of ideas that I have to write them down to get them out of my head.


SN: What are your favourite books/films/TV shows and have they influenced your writing?
DR: I was an avid sci-fi fan as a child (and still am!) and was influenced by fantastic TV shows (Doctor Who & Blake’s 7 and Robin of Sherwood for that mystical element) and writers such as Harlan Ellison, Storm Constantine, Tanith Lee, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  For films it would be things like Bladerunner and Logan’s Run, but I do like blockbusters too.


SN: Do you have a specific writing style?
DR: I must have but I’m not sure what it could be described as, except that it is very dark and descriptive.  I tend to take normal stories and twist them and I never do happy endings, it never works out like that.  New Weird is possibly what it could be called, a mixture of urban modern chaos with very old fairy tales mixed in.


SN: Can you share a little of your work with us?
DR: Excerpt from my SciFi novel ‘Everybodies’ –

He could still see her pale pink eyes, as she fell away from him.  She hadn’t jumped, she had just stepped backwards off the roof of the building, and even though he was only a whisper away, he couldn’t reach her.
Operative William Haych found himself lying flat, his upper torso hanging half over the edge, his arms stretched out.  He was grabbing at nothing.  He blamed it on his age slowing him down, the aches that wouldn’t go away.  Her eyes were wide open, staring up at him.  There was a calm look on her face that met Haych’s panicked stare.  The distance between them stretched.

    He closed his blue eyes and tried hard not to imagine the sound of her head cracking on the concrete far below him, but he couldn’t help himself.
The worry lines on his forehead momentarily formed deeper ridges, the folded skin knitting his grey eyebrows.  He breathed out a long sigh.
When he opened his eyes, he could see her body far below on the roof of the next building as a dot, a red smear.  He didn’t even know her name.  The Remothery vehicles were a distant flash of red.  Before long he’s be able to hear the sirens wailing, but not yet.  Operative Haych picked himself up and dusted down his grey suit and overcoat.
The roof of the building where she had landed was a long way below him.  He carefully stepped back from the edge, to let his senses regain their balance.  Around him on the roof, cooling towers, water tanks and air vents stood out like turrets on a castle.
Haych looked away from the scene below, to the city around him.  Plexity stretched out, towers and spires to the horizon in all directions.  There seemed to be no edge to it.  Million of lights, each with their own little dramas beneath them.
    Haych looked up at the sky.  The sun only showed as a dull glow in the west.  Instead of joining the clearing-up below, he waited.  The sky bruised, the light scorching the clouds as the sun set.  Stars began to appear, some of them twinkling almost as much as the Hypercars and Hoverpods that soared above, circling down towards the city Hyperport.  Dark clouds gathered around the tallest spires of the star-scrapers.  The wind picked up and it began to rain thick drops.  Every alleyway and street, parapet and tower block added to the invisible eddies that breathed air through the city.  With slow eyes on the world, Haych watched, hardly feeling the rain on his skin.  He made his way inside the building.
From a descending elevator on the side of the building Haych watched Plexity come alive in the darkness.

    By the time Haych had reached the roof where the girl had landed, it was awash with flashing lights and sirens.  An area had been cordoned off around the body where it lay.  A Hypercar vehicle suddenly descended to Haych’s level.  Red warning lights flashed and a vibrating screech sounded as an alarm.  Haych knew the sound; he had heard it almost every day since he had joined CoHOD.  Even so, his heart always jumped at the noise of the wagon that collected the dead.  He waved briefly to the driver as the Remothery vehicle set down, and watched as the officers picked up what was left of the girl.  The back of her head was a mass of blood, blonde hair and broken skull, but again, Haych had to look, had to see the darker side of the city.
They lowered her into a Plasglas tank in the back of the vehicle with great care.  One of the hygiene-suited men pulled a thick tube from the side of the vehicle and placed it into the tank.      Haych watched as a blue, semi-liquid gloop began to fill the tank, covering the body.  The CryoGel liquid was then activated, freezing solid within a few seconds.  Haych sighed and headed to the other side of the building as the vehicle took off.


SN: What challenges have you faced in your writing? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in the writing process?
DR: I find it very hard to reduce the essence of a novel to it’s bare minimum.  I don’t like writing synopsies or outlines because I rarely stick to them if I write them before and think that something is missing from them if I do them afterwards.  Dialogue is another challenge to me to get down on paper; unique voices.  I’ve found it difficult to sell myself to agents and publishers but each time I try I get better.


SN: Do you have a typical writing routine?
DR: Unfortunately not.  I’m sometimes very slack and then will do a lot of work in a very short time.  I try to balance this by carrying a notebook so if I think of anything I’ll write it down and once a year I do try to write a novel in November from all the notes that have built up over the year.  I don’t always succeed.


SN: What motivates you to write?
DR: I write because I feel I have to.  The ideas I get can be like a curse and the only cure is to get them out of my head by writing them down.  The strange thing is that I don’t remember everything that I’ve written when I read it back years later.  If I didn’t have my imagination then my life would be empty.


SN: Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
DR: Yes, keep writing things down and when you’ve finished your story or novel or poem, edit it before you send it out, then send it out and forget it and write something else.  Repeat until someone notices your work.


SN: You mentioned to me that you have recently written folk songs, it sounds like you are a real creative. Is your past musical, too, or is this just something you have just decided to try more recently?
DR: The song writing is a new thing.  I met a friend through a friend who re-introduced me to folk music and encouraged me to sing in public after not doing that since I had been at school (nearly 30 years before) and he was writing a song a month and I thought that it couldn’t be harder to do than poetry so i tried and ended up writing a few good songs (and some bad ones and silly ones) and then singing them myself to crowded rooms and some notable singer/songwriters taking notice and liking the songs.  I had also taken part in Huddersfield literature write an album in a day and was really happy with what the singer had done with my poem/song that it encouraged me to try it out again.  It is harder than poetry and more repetitive but more fun too.