Interview with Rolf Margenau

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Hamden, Connecticut, a suburb of New Haven. We lived at the top of a hill that backed on to a large forested and undeveloped area, and my friends and I spent many hours exploring the "wild woods," building and destroying "forts" and generally causing adolescent mischief. There was much unsupervised activity and we invented new games. We also felt very much in touch with nature and enjoyed the flora and fauna - most of the time. There was an interaction with a skunk at about age nine that was not unalloyed joy. I believe the freedom to explore and make mistakes fostered a creative spirit and a deep love of nature. There are other aspects to my writing, but those two are always there.
When did you first start writing?
My first published writing was an essay about a couple of birds I observed in the woods - in the fourth grade. It was printed in the school yearbook and a local newspaper. I am pretty sure it was sappy and anthropomorphic, but what can one expect from an eight year old. I started writing seriously as a reporter for the Stars and Stripes in Korea and Japan in the early fifties.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Two things:
I am concerned that the growing gap between haves and have-nots in our country is an extremely serious situation - self-imposed to some degree by toxic politics that place party before country. If permitted to continue, I am afraid it could lead to economic and social disaster. As a metaphor for what might happen here, I chose the rise of the Sendero Luminoso communist insurrection in Peru in the eighties as a distant mirror of America now.
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I wanted to challenge the hero of my two previous novels, Wylie Cypher, with the potential for serious physical harm and show him as an "innocent" who must find the internal resources to battle a bunch of very bad guys. As part of this story, I included a sub-plot about a 500 year old child mummy who demonstrates "it's not nice to screw with Mother Nature."
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
At my age, the inspiration is the ability to actually get out of bed.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work as a volunteer Master Gardener here in Hunterdon County New Jersey, and put in a few hours a week with my own garden. I don't practice law any more, but do handle affairs for a woman with both money and Alzheimer's disease on a volunteer basis. Lately, I have added upgrading a recently-acquired 1932 Chrysler convertible coupe to my daily chores - basically keeping my wife and three dogs fed and happy.
What is your writing process?
I begin by following whatever inspiration I had to write another book, do a few months of research (web and libraries) and set out a plot synopsis and chapter outline. I write 1) when I feel guilty about not having written for a while 2) on rainy days 3) when the sentence that stuck in my head at 3 am needs to be released and 4) after people ask me what am I working on now. When I am sure everything is perfect, I send the book to my editor - who demonstrates how wrong I am.
How do you approach cover design?
I had a very specific cover in mind for Master Gardener - my hero standing in an endless corn field, brilliant blue sky, fluffy clouds, and a sense of mystery/whimsy. My son-in-law posed in a local corn field on a perfect day, and I took many pictures. My fellow Master Gardener, Suz Haake, is also a very talented graphic designer who worked with me on the Pistils and Poetry book (Elizabethan poetry juxtaposed with my photos of flowers), She adapted the photograph by causing the corn leaves to glow gold and put in the cloud that looks like an ear of corn. I love that cover!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Good question! My first novel, Public Information, attracted the attention of two agents who said, in late spring of 2011, that they might get the book published by the summer of 2013. Not being sure I would live till then, I asked author friends if self-publishing was still the obnoxious practice of the untalented. They assured me it was not - and gave me examples of fine self-published books. I found a proof reader, an excellent editor and an amazing printer of digital books. Then I discovered Smashwords for eBooks and amazon.com for all my books. I enjoy the control I have over the process and the fact that I don't have to share proceeds with anyone else!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The discovery of the most amazing things that are lodged in the deep and shadowy recesses of my brain. I never know what will surface when I begin to write. Most of the time it is a pleasant surprise.
What do your fans mean to you?
I have fans?
Published 2013-09-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

National Parks
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 60,750. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
A satirical look at what happens, in the near future, when Congress plans to bail out a bankrupt America by selling our national parks to the highest bidders-- a "fresh,scathing, hilarious, and brilliant satire of greedy corporate America and our shamefully broken Congress."
The Commode Companion
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 910. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
An interactive photo book with snarky captions that exposes the innermost thoughts of animals, birds, bugs, butterflies, and frogs. The author's photos of wild creatures from various parts of the world are combined with their secret thoughts and desires. Designed to induce laughter and thwart constipation. No commode should be without a copy. This is an adult book.
High Andes
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 96,750. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
In 1980 Attorney Wylie Cypher, in midlife crisis, plans a trek across the White Mountains of Peru with his daughter, Mercy. By misadventure, they must fight their way across the mountains to protect a vital international secret, chased by bloodthirsty villains from both sides of Peru's bloody civil war. Book observes that gap between rich and poor leads to anarchy. Torture, mayhem, combat, CIA.
Master Gardener
Series: Wylie Cypher, Two. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 102,350. Language: American English. Published: August 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire, Fiction » Literature » Literary
A humorous look at the problems presented by genetically altered seeds and chemicals that prohibit growth of weeds. Anne Proctor, Master Gardener in New Anglia, finds magic seeds that produce "super plants" that threaten the profitable seed business of BIG AG. Wylie Cypher, retired lawyer, battles BIG AG. Eco-terrorism group saves monarch butterfly. Fun and satisfying 300 pages!
Public Information
Series: Wylie Cypher, One. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 131,430. Language: English. Published: June 23, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure
A novel about the Korean War and its aftermath as experienced by Wylie Cypher, a young soldier assigned to a combat Infantry Division Public Information Office. Scenes of combat, military humor, a coming of age as well as a love story. Explains the origins of potential for conflict in present-day Korea. Endorsed by many Korean War veterans.