Interview with Marietta Rodgers, Author of “Looney Bin Incorporated”

26169603What is your book about?

Looney Bin Incorporated is a humorous satire about how corporations maximize profits, by exploiting workers. It takes place in a psychiatric hospital, which is just a front for a corporation brazenly called, Looney Bin Incorporated. In a world where profits are put above people, this corporation takes it a step further, by literally selling insanity. As the patients/workers gradually become aware that they are being exploited, they begin to fight back. One of the characters leading the charge is Crazy Bob, who is considered the most insane and so he is the company’s top performer. The book is about the modern corporate entity and how greed outweighs social responsibility.

Who is your most interesting/most likable character?

The most likeable character would have to be Sam, a narcotic guy, who loves Dr. Seuss and only speaks in rhymes. There is definitely an innocence about him that you tend to lose as an adult, but Sam keeps his inner child very much alive. One of the most interesting characters is Drake, who has been at Looney Bin Incorporated for twenty-five years and has never been diagnosed. He can’t even remember the reason why he is there, other than his father brought him there when he was eighteen, because he was, “slightly eccentric.”

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired by the novel, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Crazy Bob, one of the central characters, very much channels the spirit of Yossarian from that book. Looney Bin Incorporated is a sort of 21st century take on Catch-22. I wanted to shine a light on the new type of corporate culture in our society, where we have enormous conglomerates that are only responsible to their shareholders. The days of corporate pensions are a thing of the past.

Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

My ideal reader first and foremost, would be someone with a sense of humor. Looney Bin Incorporated is filled with light-hearted humor and ironical situations. Beyond a reader having a sense of humor though, I would say ideally, that the reader is a humanist and believes in social justice and reform. I would hope the reader has a world view and thinks beyond rigid categories.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I am all over the map as far as genres go; I may go from a classic like, Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, to reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I like books that evoke critical thinking and that try to widen your point of view.

What writer influenced you the most?

One writer that has most influenced me is Ralph Ellison. I remember when I first read Invisible Man in college and the profound effect it had on me. It is a remarkable book about African American identity and racial issues that are still relevant today.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’ve always been a voracious reader; as a kid my mom would take me to the library once a week. I use to write short stories in notebooks and I was always day dreaming. I was a bit of a space cadet actually. I really wanted to be a writer though, at the age of twelve after I read, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. To be able to submerse yourself deep into a story like that is a rare thing that I wanted to hold on to and never lose.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

I wish I would have written the play, No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre. It is a story about three characters stuck in a room in hell, and none of them will admit to why they are there at first. They begin to wonder why they are not being physically tortured and after a period of time being stuck together, it becomes clear that, that is the torture and thus one of the characters says, “Hell is other people.” I also would have liked to have written, Endgame by Samuel Beckett. I love existentialist/absurd ideas, where an individual’s search for meaning can often collide with the universe.

Describe your writing in three words?

Humorous social criticism.

Where can people learn more about your book?

You can learn more about my book by following me at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12061929.Marietta_Rodgers

Looney Bin Incorporated as well as my other novel, The Bill are available to purchase at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marietta+rodgers+ and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!marietta-ro

 

Interview With Marietta Rodgers, Author of “The Bill”

The BillWhat is your book about?

My book, The Bill, by Marietta Rodgers is a political satire that revolves around two central characters, who each go on a humanistic metamorphosis through experience, empathy and understanding. You have one character, Representative Joe Herkiezen, who at the beginning of the novel has written a bill, called the Hunger Relief Act. Throughout the novel, you see what he is willing to do in order to get that bill passed. On the other end of the political spectrum, you have Hope Price, an optimistic and very intelligent teenager, who wants to go into politics, but feels he lacks understanding of the poor, since he is from a privileged family. In order to gain enlightenment, he works at a Slaughterhouse for the summer and is exposed to everything from prostitution to murder. The Bill is a behind the curtain look at politics using dark humor, satire and truisms.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired to write The Bill, because of my growing dismay with our political system, much like George Orwell’s dismay over Stalinism in writing Animal Farm. I got the seed for the story, after reading that the percentage of bills proposed that actually get signed into law, are at the lowest they’ve ever been. Our current Congress is one of the least productive in history. It is an alarming trend that I don’t think is going away anytime soon, because the bills are no longer about what is being said; they are about which party is saying them.

Who is your most unusual character?

The most unusual character in The Bill, is Piggy, the slaughterhouse foreman. He says the most ambiguous things and speaks using mantras, that sound a lot like campaign slogans.

How do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have to know how it’s going to end before I start. So, before even writing The Bill and knowing all the specifics about what direction I wanted the story to take, I had a definite ending in mind. For me, knowing the ending ahead of time is crucial, because I can gear a story to that outcome, as oppose to just writing a story and hoping a fabulous ending pops in my head as the story progresses.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I hope my novel will make the reader more aware of their political environment, both locally and nationally. People should be aware of what their elected officials are about and hold them accountable for their actions. I hope that people also believe, that there is always hope for change, even if politics seem to sink lower in the quagmire; it just takes a catalyst.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories, that all revolve around people who live in a particular upscale building in New York. I got the idea from an article I read in the NY Times, about shell corporations purchasing condos and concealing the real owners through paperwork, lawyers and enigmatic and ambiguous names.

What was the first story you remember writing?

The first story I remember writing, was a story I wrote in the first grade. It was about how I ran away from home and joined the circus for a night. I got to have a magical night of lion taming, doing a high wire act and being shot out of cannon. I did it all in a night and was back in my own room, without my parents ever knowing about my grand adventure. I was inspired by my reading of Harold and The Purple Crayon.

What writer influenced you the most?

One writer that influenced me the most would have to be George Orwell. I read Animal Farm and 1984 in high school and it had a profound effect on me. I would also have to say Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett. I love satire and absurdism.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Empowered.

Have you written any other books?

My second novel, Loony Bin Incorporated, is a satire of big business and should be out the latter part of 2015.

Where can we learn more about The Bill?

The Bill is available in print and for Kindle at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com and http://www.amazon.com