Rebecca Rogers – Q&A

The Purgatory Poisonings by Rebecca Rogers was published by

Rebecca kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about The Purgatory Poisoning.

It’s a story about a chap called Dave who wakes up in his own version of Purgatory – a Cornish youth hostel – only to find out he’s been murdered. An angel who looks like Michael Palin and his celestial sidekick, who’s obsessed with 80s crime dramas, help Dave to solve his own murder. Think Good Omens meets Agatha Christie with a twist of 80’s Britain.

I was lucky enough to win the Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) Unpublished prize last year. CWIP was set up by Helen Lederer to encourage and promote witty women writers, as ‘funny writing’ has long been thought of as a man’s domain. It is changing, albeit slowly.

2. What inspired the book?

I grew up on a diet of Monty Python, Blackadder and Terry Pratchett, and that sort of British irreverence threads itself through the book. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of Purgatory for a long time and I’ve always wondered – if it existed, how would it look? How would it work? How would people be monitored? Would there be spreadsheets? Because that’s the sort of world I live in – as a civil servant, every day has a new spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation, or email about how someone has blocked the toilets again and can we PLEASE stop putting paper towels down the loo.

We think of the celestial world as sparkling white and bright with angels sitting on clouds – but perhaps it’s just like the back office of public building, with mop cupboards and pass keys and empty rooms full of chairs.

Who knows? It’s something that I wanted to explore in the book and see where it took me.

3. Do you plan before you start writing or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I do plan but I find that I never stick to it. My characters take on a life of their own once they’re in my head, and I find that I’m not really making it up – I’m just recording what they’re already saying. It’s very odd. And also very annoying, because their ideas are always much better than mine.

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?

Oh, loads of things! Before I won CWIP, I could not get a sniff of interest in the book. I did not get a single response from an agent – not even a ‘no thanks’. It was strange and dispiriting. Looking back, I think the fault lay in my querying package; the book is different, no doubt about it. It’s not typical female fiction and neither is it fantasy. It’s not a crime thriller or police procedural. It’s actually a mixture of all of those genres, but pitching that to an agent concisely when they have 200 scripts a week to read is nigh on impossible!

I’m now with HarperCollins, and the editing process has been incredibly thorough. I’ve been so impressed. Everything moves much more slowly that you’re expecting but we’re just a few weeks away now from publishing date and I’m very, very, VERY excited. [Rebbeca provided her answers before publication]

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I have an office job but when I’m not working or writing, I’m generally eating, running or sleeping. A very long time ago I did a music degree and I still like to sing when I can. The thing that I love to do though – and I find I need it more and more as I get older – is go to the sea. There’s something about standing on a beach, wind in your hair and sand in your eyes, that is life affirming.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. I think it would be The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes. I don’t think I could ever get tired of Holmes.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

When you get stuck for ideas, what do you do?

I like my imagination to be on full steam ahead when I write, so when it starts to clog up, I get very frustrated. The way to clear it is to do something completely different for a while; maybe something as simple as going for a walk. The key to it though is not to think that you’re doing this walk so that you can come up with an idea. You need to simply go for a walk because you’ll enjoy the walk. That way, your head will empty itself of the writing frustration and start to fill itself with bird song and strange looking trees and joggers and newsagents and mud. And only then will the ideas start to flood back in.

About the Book

How do you solve your own murder when you’re already dead?

Purgatory (noun):
1. Where the dead are sent to atone.
2. A place of suffering or torment.
3. A youth hostel where the occupants play Scrabble and the mattresses are paper thin.

When Dave wakes up in his own personal purgatory (St Ives Youth Hostel circa 1992), he’s shocked to discover he’s dead. And worse – he was murdered.

Heaven doesn’t know who did it so with the help of two rogue angels, Dave must uncover the truth.

As divine forces from both sides start to play the game, can Dave get out of this alive? Or at the very least, with his soul intact?

You can buy a copy of the book here.

(This is an affiliate link so I may make a small amount if you purchase through it. You can also buy The Purgatory Poisoning from your local independent bookshop.)

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sounds like quite the book!


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