Local Author will be at Bay Street Trading Company

By Wendy Pollitzer

Ted Brogden, local author, has just released Jigsaw, a novel about an airline captain whose career ends when a photo surfaces with he and the fiancée of AeroMax Airline’s heir apparent.

Brogden, an instrument rated pilot, certified diver and practicing raconteur who spends most of his time in Eastern North Carolina and the Lowcountry will be at Bay Street Trading Company tomorrow from 1-4 signing copies of Jigsaw. The following is a Question and Answer Interview with Brogden:

What Writers have influenced you?

Rolvaag: Giants in the Earth. The story was about pioneer life on the Great Plains. I could see the sod hut, feel the icy wind and that was impressive. But when Rolvaag described cabbage stewing on the fireplace and I could smell, even taste the cabbage…well, I was hooked on reading…and writing.

Solzhenitsyn:  Cancer Ward; Thor Heyerdahl:  Kon Tiki; Jack London:  Call of the Wild; Hemingway:  Old Man and the Sea; Victor Hugo: Les Miserable; Dickens:  Tale of Two Cities

Tolstoy: War and Peace. I never finished it by the way. It’s the only book I really liked that I didn’t finish. That’s the reason a character in my second book, Hell on Earth is named after Tolstoy’s birthplace; “Yasnaya Pollyanna.” The book has an underlying Russian theme. It’s my way of paying tribute to Russian writers.

Russia is like the South. There is a mystique, an aura of intrigue about both places. Hailing from either place makes the writing that much easier; Mother Nature takes care of the scenery. All that’s left is the plot and characters.

Modern writers: Dan Brown: Da Vinci code, Lost Symbol; Tom Clancy; John Grisham; Scott Turow; Frank McCourt: Tis Angela’s Ashes

How do you develop your plots and characters?

I write the first sentence; and after that, the plot evolves on its own. I don’t use outlines.

As crazy as it may sound, I write the story to entertain myself as much as I do for readers. At some point and time, I obviously know the ending; but in the beginning, I’m just as surprised with the direction of the story as every one else. That’s why I finish the book to see how the story ends.

And the characters?

I observe people, friends…strangers in public places. We all have a story to tell, I try to pick out interesting looking people… alter them to suit my plot, and then let them tell my stories.

Why did you choose to write Jigsaw?

There actually was an incident like the one in the book that introduces the mysterious woman. We didn’t connect like in the story, but the circumstances were similar. I’m sure she patched things up with her fiancé, had children and warned them never to cavort with a rogue like me…anyway that was the seed that grew the story.

How can we purchase Jigsaw?

Amazon Books, B&N, Books-a-million online and on Friday August 6th At Bay Street Trading Company in Beaufort SC from 1-4pm.

When and why did you begin writing?

A friend, who wasn’t a reader, came back from vacation and complained about a book he was reading. He explained that the only time he had to read was on vacation, and the books he chose never had an ending. I told him I could write a book he would enjoy.

Did he enjoy it?

He and his wife loved it, but then he’s a pilot and scuba dives…so we share a lot of common ground, plus the book is set in very familiar surroundings.

When did you know you could be a writer?

I think the jury is still out on that.

Who or what influenced your writing?

I don’t think there is a particular writer who influences me as far as style. I get caught up in the story, and tell it the only way I know.

What do you consider most challenging about writing a novel, writing in general?

Making the story and characters believable…I know it’s fiction, but the events and characters have to be credible. Except for the vampire stories…that’s another ball game, a very lucrative ball game…and No, I have neither plans, nor the talent to write those stories.

What do you think about the vampire stories?

Haven’t read any of them, but I’m all for any genre that get kids reading and adults, for that matter.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

Listening. Writing has made me a better listener. People are willing to reveal their most inner thoughts; but most of us are so busy thinking of what we are going to say next, that we miss their stories.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

Once, for six years…A New York literary agent told me she didn’t like how I wrote or what I wrote about. It was pretty crushing…you work so hard to get in front of an agent…

What made you start again?

A very special person…who happens to be one of the smartest people I know, told me to “get over it.” She also happens to be as beautiful as she is smart.

Do you intend to make writing a career?

I don’t think that decision is up to me. But I can’t imagine anyone who ever wrote a book not wanting to make writing a career.

How did you come up with the title?

I didn’t. Someone read parts of the manuscript and said, “figuring this story out is like trying to connect a jigsaw puzzle.”  I thought …that’s pretty good, let’s go with that.

Has writing taught you anything and if so, what is it?

Patience…some times you have to lie back and let the story come to you.

I’ve heard of writers who sit down to write and don’t stop until they get a specific number of pages.

That’s incredible to me, when my ideas dry up…I stop until the pump is primed again.

How do you feel about rejection letters?

In the beginning they bothered me. Now I think of them as great inspirational wallpaper.

How important are villains in a story?

I don’t know that the villains are important, but I think it’s important that the writer be a villain. I mean you can’t be afraid to make it hard on a character. If I see one of my characters living an easy life, I promise you that’s about to change.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?

The internet. After a few hours of research, you can sound like a pro.

Have you lived what you write about?

I’ll just say I draw from life experiences more than I do research on the internet.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I may be on the literary junk pile…but I plan to be on the top of the junk pile.

Tell us about your family.

I have a son Gabe. He is my best friend and confidant.  If people don’t have kids my advice is to get busy. Kids are our real treasures. I have a mother and two brothers, one older, one younger…that’s makes me a middle child-a problem from the start.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

First, thank you for buying my book. Second, I hope when you finish the book, you feel like you got your money’s worth. If I had the talent to make the story any better I would have. I’ll never publish anything that isn’t my best effort, I promise you that.

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