Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Guest today: Stephen D. Rogers

By Earl Staggs

I’m proud to welcome Stephen D. Rogers as my guest today. Stephen is the author of SHOT TO DEATH, a collection of thirty-one of his short stories. He's the head writer at Crime Scene (where viewers solve interactive mysteries) and a popular writing instructor. For more information, you can visit his website,, where he tries to pull it all together.

I’ve known Stephen for a number of years and have long respected his skill as a writer. I don’t know of anyone who has worked harder to improve his craft, and the volume of his published work -- more than six hundred stories and poems -- squarely places him in the top layer of contemporary mystery and crime writers.

Stephen takes a unique approach in his piece below. Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a writer? Here’s your chance. Stephen dissects and analyzes the opening of one of the stories in SHOT TO DEATH. I found it interesting and know you will, too.

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to see how you can win a copy of SHOT TO DEATH.

Here’s a sampling of what’s being said about it:

"Terse tales of cops and robbers, private eyes and bad guys, with an authentic New England setting."
- Linda Barnes, Anthony Award winner and author of the Carlotta Carlyle series

"Put yourself in the hands of a master as you travel this world of the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared. Rogers is the real deal--real writer, real story teller, real tour guide to the dark side."
- Kate Flora, author of the Edgar-nominated FINDING AMY and the Thea Kozak mysteries

"SHOT TO DEATH provides a riveting reminder that the short story form is the foundation of the mystery/thriller genre. There's something in this assemblage of New England noir to suit every aficionado. Highly recommended!"
- Richard Helms, editor and publisher, The Back Alley Webzine

And now, here’s my friend, Stephen. Enjoy.


"Although Lieutenant Brant was already sitting at the corner booth when I entered the diner, I still stopped at the counter to place my order before joining him."

So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.

The narrator not only kept the lieutenant waiting, he then emphasized that he was in a position to do so. The power politics are even more intriguing if the narrator is male, and thus he is.

Who would dare play such games with a police lieutenant? An ex-cop? A politician? A private investigator?

A hood might think he could get away with it, but I think it's more interesting if the balance of power is more tenuous. That also lets out the possibility of the narrator being a politician, not that I'm suggesting that all politicians are crooks. Heh.

A corner booth makes sense for a cop to pick, as his back isn't to anyone, but the word "corner" also suggests that a corner is going to be turned. Perhaps the balance of power will tip one way forever. Perhaps the narrator will experience a life-changing event.

By stopping at the counter, the narrator not only makes Lieutenant Brant wait, he demonstrates an unwillingness to simply sit and wait for his order to be taken. The echo of "corner" indicates that there's more at stake than a flexing of his muscles.

Assuming the diner is staffed with waitresses rather than waiters, perhaps the narrator is experiencing control issues with a teenage daughter. And then a police lieutenant comes calling.

All that remains is the writing.

For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to and submit your completed entry.

Then visit the schedule at to see how you can march along.

And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.



Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Earl,

Yes, I've worked hard to improve my craft. Now if only I could succeed.


Helen Kiker said...

Yes, I am intrigued by your teaser. I do want to see who the narrator is.


Morgan Mandel said...

What a wonderful publishing record!
Great job, Stephen.

Morgan Mandel

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Helen,

That's the idea. :) I've always thought the desire to learn more about people was more fulfilling that the desire to learn what they'll do. (And not only because if you know the first, you'll know the second.)


Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Morgan,

Thanks, but it's not a record that anybody can't reach if interested.