Discover more from From the Mind of Karis
Q&A with Karis Rogerson, author of this very newsletter
In which I talk to myself, lol
Welcome to the interview 🗣️
Hello, friends! We’re doing something different with today’s interview, yet again! Because this time, I’m taking over both sides of the mic and interviewing MYSELF. Yes, it’s weird, it’s funky, but hey, I didn’t have anything else planned and this felt like a fun idea. So I’m rolling with it!
For those of you who may be new here, hey! I’m Karis. I’m a writer who was born in South Carolina, raised in Italy, schooled in Germany and Kentucky, and now lives in Brooklyn. I recently signed with literary agent Eric Smith at P.S. Literary, and we’re trying to get my book sold. Which is thrilling and terrifying and stressful and exciting and horrible all wrapped up together in one weird little sandwich.
So without further ado or nervous rambling, let’s dive in, shall we?
Karis Rogerson: Why in the world are you interviewing yourself?
Karis Rogerson: Because no one else wants to, duh 😂
More seriously, there’s a few reasons. One, my friend suggested it and I didn’t have a better idea. Two, I’ve always wanted to be interviewed and to answer questions like the ones I ask authors, so I thought, hey, what a great time to practice! Three, I’m trying to take myself more seriously as an author, and a lot of that is just, like, “fake it til you make it,” right? It’s acting like you’re a serious author whom people should listen to, and lo and behond, people will listen to you! So, we’re doing this.
KR: How did you get started writing?
KR: I think I’ve always been obsessed with stories. I remember when I was really young, I used to beg my parents to “tell a story.” They were usually real stories, anecdotes from their lives that brought me joy to listen to. Eventually I started telling myself stories, too; to this day, the best way I know to fall asleep is to start telling myself a story.
I used to put on music while doing the dishes and dance around making up these wild and impalusible romance stories. But when it comes to writing them down, that also came early. I was a big reader as a kid, and I remember reading the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard. I read on Wikipedia that she wrote her first Mandie story at 11 and a half years old, and as I was 12 at the time and deeply competitive, I immedidately felt I had fallen behind and needed to catch up.
Thus, publishing became my dream. And I’ve been pursuing it ever since.
Oh, and Lois? I missed the part where she didn’t publish her first story until she was an adult. I wasn’t behind at all ☺️
KR: Why do you write?
KR: What a question! I know I ask this of everyone but why did I think it would be a good idea to ask it of myself, too? Ah, well.
I write because I have to. I write because it’s how I contextualize the world around me — how I make sense of what’s happening to me, to my loved ones, to my enemies, lol. And I write because it’s how I communicate. It’s a way of sharing what’s in my heart, whether it’s a fictional story or a real-life anecdote or a bit about my depression, and it forges bonds of connections with other humans.
I have always longed for deep connections with everyone around me. I crave to be known on the deepest of levles. Writing is how I achieve that.
KR: Can you share the inspiration behind Nat & Cami’s Guide to Running an Undercover GSA?
KR: Hell yes, I thought you’d never ask! (I make myself laugh.)
Nat & Cami takes place at a boarding school in Trieste, Italy, and tells the story of two girls who crash together during long insomniac nights in a downstairs bathroom with heated floors. Due to the homophobic culture at their school, they plan a secret GSA, and in the process, maybe they fall in love a little bit.
I’ve wanted to write a boarding school book for a long time, because I went to boarding school, in Germany, for three years in high school. There’s something so exceedingly fun about books set in that world. But it wasn’t until I came out as bi and started writing sapphic stories that the premise came to me. I had a dream one night, about two girls hanging out in a heated-floor bathroom (something that we had in my dorm, too!) and bam! There they were.
The plot of the GSA came from a lengthy conversation with my friend, the brilliant Auriane Desombre, my first and forever CP.
KR: What is one of your favorite aspects of Nat & Cami?
KR: Nat is a runner, and I wrote multiple scenes where she’s running along this ancient road that winds through the Carso (mountainous region) above Trieste. I used to run, before my knees and back and ankles gave out, and it can be such a cathartic experience, so I really channeled that for Nat. Running clears her head, and gives her epiphanies, and some of my favorite scenes in the book take place on that road.
KR: What is your most secret and/or biggest dream for this book?
KR: LMAO. It wouldn’t be a secret if I shared it here! But I will anyway.
Listen, I’m a recognition girlie. I love validation. And I love awards. I want this book to win an award. I want someone to read it and say, “yes, that’s a good-ass book, and I need the world to know.”
But also? I want this book to free someone. I want this book to make someone feel seen in the deepest embers of their being.
KR: What is an element of this book that you think would surprise readers?
KR: I keep forgetting to bring this up, but there’s a lot of mental health discussion in this book, too. It is, yes, about coming into your queerness and about leaving the beliefs of your childhood, but it’s also about living with — and surviving — deep mental illness.
KR: Is there anything about you that may surprise readers of this newsletter?
KR: I literally tell y’all everything. I doubt this will surprise many of you, because most of you know me, but I’m a homebody. I’m a deeply extroverted person and I need human interaction but I also hole up in my room and don’t leave for weeks at a time. And then I wonder why my brain hurts…
KR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
KR: God, why is this the hardest question in the world? I know why. It’s because the impostor syndrome is hitting me hard and I’m convinced I have nothing to say that could help anyone. Which I guess brings me to my advice: fake it til you make it. Just put on a brave face. Act like you have something to say, like you believe you have talent, like you belong in this room at this table telling your stories. People not only tend to believe confidence, we’re also drawn to it.
And, even more than how it’ll affect others’ perception of you, it’ll change your OWN. You’ll start to believe that you do belong (cause you do), and that you have something worth saying (cause you do), and that people ought to listen (they do).
Fake it til you make it, babes!
KR: Can you share 1-3 reads you’ve read & loved?
KR: Lol, yes. First of all, follow me on Instagram because I share the books I love in my stories. But also, a smattering of books you all should read:
If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude rearranged my brain. It is doing everything I hope to do with Nat & Cami at a level I can only dream of achieving some day. There’s mental health rep, there’s queer first love, there’s religious trauma, and all of it around the nine days before an asteroid is meant to hit Earth. This book seriously reframed how I think about life & death. It’s endlessly powerful.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is five years old and it’s been five years since I read it and I still think about it. A queer Iranian-American boy goes to Iran and lives with depression and it’s beautiful and thought-provoking and just. So good.
Finally, read the Secret Shanghai books by Chloe Gong. Yes, I know I am always talking about how much I love Chloe’s books. No, I will not stop. Just read them already.
Alla prossima 👋
That’s all for this (lengthy) interview with myself! Honestly this was pretty fun! I hope you all enjoyed it and maybe you got something out of it, whether it’s advice or a book rec or a deeper understanding of why my brain is the way my brain is.
Next week, I’ll be back with the usual from the heart, from the vault, and from the page. So stay tuned for that!