David Rogers Jr. started his writing career with second place in the Heroes’ Voices National Veterans Poetry Contest. He has published further poetry in Metonym Journal, Voices De Luna, and for the San Antonio Water System. Most recently, a creative non-fiction essay appeared in Fossil News: The Journal of Avocational Paleontology, and poetry in Voices de la Luna. 2020 saw the publication of his anti-war memoir Peaceful Meridian, and in 2022 his first novel, The Lay-off House, was released to the world. He lives outside Denver, Colorado.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
The title just came to me. Old Victorian mansions or English cottages and great halls traditionally had names, and I think my subconscious was considering this when it came up with a name for a ramshackle old American house full of economic refugees.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
I am absolutely a printed book person, so holding it makes it real. What I love about the cover is how simple and iconic it is. It’s a great feeling to be scrolling through Instagram and see a promo or review I was not even aware of, and have the cover jump out at me. “Oh hey, I know that book!”
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I’ve always been a reader and I think every child reader wants to be a writer, or at least dreams of it. But as an adult, a novel by a famous contemporary author who I shall not name wrote a book so awful I thought “I can do better than this.” It’s the only book I threw away instead of giving away. I didn’t want anyone else to have to suffer through it. And he even had a movie made out of this awful book. Go figure. It’s a lesson that writing a good book is achievable if even a household name can publish something terrible.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
My boring day money job is in the electric utility industry. It spans the line between white-collar and blue-collar, and that experience fed directly into the characters of The Lay-off House. I know all of them, in real life.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Having readers and friends tell me it was the book they needed to read at that moment. That it speaks to them and their lives.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Jazz vinyl, but you’d have to listen to it while sitting in a ratty lawn chair on your disheveled, weed-infested lawn while wondering what happened to your life.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
A sense that they are not alone—our country is weird, the working life sucks, and the battle for control of one’s own life is something everyone of every race, gender, creed, and income level struggles with.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I’ve got two novels I’d like to work on, but, much like my characters, my day job is getting in the way right now. Honestly most of my creativity is going into planning a Dungeons & Dragons campaign since it’s my turn to DM in my game group.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
I view hybrid publishing as a small indie band would see studio time they rent to make their album. You’re getting access to a professional production to make a piece of art you can then promote. I’ve done two books with Atmosphere and I’ve been impressed by the quality of editing and production, not to mention access to Ingram distribution. And all the editors have been a pleasure to work with. Their enthusiasm for your work is evident, and helps fight those common author doubts when a book is about to go out into the world.