Hello, Roger! So glad you joined us. First question.
Which author would you never get tired of, and why?
Roger: Twenty years ago I would’ve said, James Michener. I still have practically all of his books, but I couldn’t wade through one of them now if my life depended on it. Ten years ago I might’ve said, J. K. Rowling. I still love Harry Potter, but I have no desire to reread any of the series.
As I glance across the room at one of our bookcases—we have quite a few—I see just one or two books by most authors.
But who do I never tire of? Probably Jim Rubart.
Jim’s books are creative and deep. And they’re getting more and more challenging to read, but also more fulfilling. Truth be known, he’s probably the only author I automatically buy any new book by. And it has nothing to do with the wonderful endorsement he gave The Devil and Pastor Gus!
You know this was an unfair question, don’t you? Just for that, I’m going to say I never tire of reading Al Gansky’s and DiAnn Mills’ suspense novels or Christy Barritt’s romantic suspense. And most recently I’ve added Yvonne Anderson’s speculative novels to my list.
Here. You can put that gag away. I’ll stop now.
No gags. We only throw tomatoes. 🙂 On a more serious note…
Who is your favorite fictional villain?
Roger: My favorite fictional villain is actually quite real, although the way he’s treated fictitiously often makes him seem more fictitious than real.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the Devil. Satan. Beelzebub. I don’t know when I first read Stephen Vincent Millet’s short story “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” Or heard the Charlie Daniels song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Or heard Chris de Burgh’s story/song “Spanish Train.”
All of them made quite an impression on me. Especially the fact that Satan—despite his great power—was soundly defeated in two of the three references I mentioned. In “Spanish Train,” the Devil uses trickery to outwit God. Not proper Christian theology, but an exciting and extremely well-told story nonetheless.
I think all of them (plus the non-fictional book of Job) inspired me to make Satan the antagonist in my latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus. It was fun portraying him somewhat sympathetically and yet also quite deserving of our hatred and disgust. Incidentally, I intended for the title to remind readers of “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”
The greatest villain of all. I have your book and it’s on my to-read list. Tell us…
What project are you currently working on?
Roger: I’ve just completed the rough draft of a Young Adult novel I call Project Muffintop. It’s about a teen girl who hopes to win a hot date to the prom by losing some weight. She ultimately realizes that her lifelong BFF—a boy—is the boyfriend she’s been looking for all along. And looks aren’t the best basis for a meaningful relationship.
I got the idea for this book from walking around the mall and noticing how many teen girls—even grown women—have fat hanging over their low-slung jeans in a pretty repulsive way. Even more so when their midriffs are bare.
Project Muffintop is actually more about relationships and self-perception than about the success or failure of a diet, though. The diet is just the glue that holds the story together.
I normally write novels that are 80,000-100,000 words in length. Even my two published YA novels are that long. But I made this novel shorter—50,000 words—to fit the guidelines of a publisher I hope will be interested in it.
Sounds interesting. Thanks so much, Roger, for dropping by! If you’d like to win your own copy, print or e-book, of The Devil and Pastor Gus, please leave a comment to be entered in our drawing.
The Devil and Pastor Gus
Fifty. Half a century old. Closer to the grave than cradle. And what does Pastor Gus Gospello have to show for his fifty years on earth? Not much. Shepherd of a small church. Married without kids. Faithful keeper of God’s commands. Well, most of them, anyway. Gus longs to make a difference for God – to have an eternal legacy. Now, as he comes to grips with his mid-life crisis, Gus acknowledges he’ll never be another John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, or Billy Graham.
But can he become the next C.S. Lewis? His wife thinks so. Fueled with the unbridled hope of a naïve novelist, Gus sets out to craft a novel so rich in spiritual symbolism and truth that even the Devil takes notice. And that’s never a good sign.
The last time the Devil and Gus met, Gospello’s pen hovered over the signature line of a dangerous contract – his soul in exchange for a child. But when Gus turned his back on the Great Deceiver, the news spread like Hellfire. Ever since, Satan’s been obsessed with personally delivering Gus to Hell.
With his eye on Gus’s new novel, the Devil tempts Gus with a peek into the spiritual realm of good and evil for a truthful account of his rise, fall, and enduring success. The Devil will feed Gus information few mortals are privileged to know. In return, Gus will craft what’s sure to become a best seller. Of course, Gus has no intention of making the Accuser look as winsome as promised. Instead, Gus plans to write a scathing satire, exposing the Devil’s excessive arrogance.
But when the prologue to Gus’s novel inexplicably appears in a popular Christian magazine and the Devil is shown to be a pride-filled fool, he seeks to destroy Gus and everything the pastor holds dear, including his precious wife.
Gus, willing to lay himself on the line to turn his little flock back to God, makes one last deal and signs the dotted line. Satan finally has claim on Gus’s soul, and with it, vindication.
But Gus has a few tricks of his own. Win or lose, Pastor Gus is about to discover that striking a deal with Satan, even in jest, can have eternal consequences.
Roger Bruner worked as a teacher, job counselor, and programmer analyst before retiring to pursue his dream of writing Christian fiction full-time. A guitarist and songwriter, he is active in his church choir and plays bass on the praise team and guitar at the weekly nursing home ministry. Roger also enjoys reading, web design, mission trips, photography, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen. Roger has two published Young Adult novels, Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams, and a speculative satire, The Devil and Pastor Gus. He also has eight unpublished novels and a work-in-progress.