I recently had the great pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Revisionary, the first book in the young adult trilogy The Rogues by Kristen Hogrefe. Personally, I found this to be an excellent book that delivers a message of hope and integrity in the midst of extreme challenges.
Hogrefe (a guest blogger on BigSisterKnows.com), agreed to share with us the following inside scoop on The Revisionary and The Rogues trilogy.
- This is your first dystopian novel. Was this genre important to the message?
Yes, I chose this genre for a few reasons. One reason is that it naturally lends itself to a suspenseful story. The main reason is that much dystopian literature tends toward a fatalistic or hopeless outlook (even if the “good guys” win). I wanted to present a dystopia of a different kind, one that looks backward to find the wisdom to move forward. There will always be dire circumstances in a dystopia, but I want my characters to discover the spark of hope that might just have the power to change their world.
- Can you tell us what the primary theme is for The Revisionary?
A quest for truth. Portia discovers that most of her world is a lie and must decide what she’s going to do about it. Stepping out to confront the truth is going to involve risk and sacrifice—but it’s going to be worth it.
- Several scenes feature realistic accounts from American history. Have you always been drawn to American history?
Yes and no. Funny story … In college, I minored in history somewhat out of convenience. I just had to take a few extra classes to count history a minor, so I went for it. In the process, I discovered how much I love the subject (even though I’m quite terrible with dates). Then, when I started teaching in a private Christian school, I had the opportunity to teach an American history class, which reminded me again how powerful history is. I truly believe studying our nation’s heritage and history are vital for America’s future.
- Your first trilogy, Wings of the Dawn, was a faith-based adventure series. However, in The Revisionary, the worship of God is essentially forbidden. Is there a Christian message buried within the story?
My burden for this novel was to write clean, compelling fiction that could reach both Christian and mainstream readers. That said, there is an underlying message of discovering who God is and what faith means. As of book one, my heroine is just beginning this journey. For example, she puzzles why the cross, a barbaric method of execution, would serve as the centerpiece for a cemetery. She admires Washington’s faith but then must face Professor Mortimer who mocks it. She wants to know more but has no idea where her search for answers will lead her.
- By definition, dystopian novels depict a fictional future in crisis. While The Revisionary is a dystopian, it also has an underlying thread of hope. Is that an important message for you?
Absolutely. Throughout the story, Portia grasps for hope that she might reunite her family and ultimately, rescue her nation. One of my favorite scenes is when Portia witnesses Washington praying at Valley Forge.
Though chilled to the bone, I feel a new fire in my soul. If men like this lived once, perhaps they can live again. Perhaps their strength and sacrifice can be reborn in a girl like me.
Rediscovering the previous civilization’s heritage is important for her, because it gives her hope that she might be able to make a difference.
- The primary character, Portia, has to decide if she’ll work within the existing government to effect change or if she’ll go “Rogue” and work to destroy it. While deciding her course of action, she studies the American Revolutionary War and is stirred by the intentions and hearts of our founding fathers.
We know that America rebelled against Britain, and Portia has to decide if she will rebel against her own government. As Christians, we are taught to obey authority figures, not to rebel. How do you reconcile these two ideals?
I wanted to recreate this tension and will be building it as the trilogy continues. In the American Revolutionary War, there were good men on both sides of this argument. In The Revisionary, Portia is torn between her brother’s loyalty to the Rogues (rebels) versus her friend Luther’s insistence that the current government is worth preserving through reform. Both these young men have good intentions and are doing what they believe is right.
I don’t want to pretend there is an easy answer to this question. I think our Founding Fathers made their choice after much discussion among wise counsel and prayer. Did they make the right choice? I honestly believe they did, but the cost was still great.
- Portia’s father tells her, “You do the next right thing, Portia, and then the next right thing after that.” Is this advice you use in your own life?
It is. In fact, I wrote this line to paraphrase some of the best advice one of my college professors gave me, which has become something of a motto to live by. Often, I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, next month, or even tomorrow. But I’ve learned (and am learning) that if I do the next right thing God asks me to do, I won’t stray from the path He has for my life.
One thing I love about fiction is its ability to share truth through story. I’ve read many books where the characters’ words and decisions have challenged me personally. In a small way, I hope my book will do the same for someone else.
Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for answering my questions and for sharing the following pre-sale opportunity with us:
The Revisionary for Kindle is now available to pre-order for a limited time. When you pre-order on Amazon.com, you’ll receive the e-book at a discounted price and an opportunity to receive a free bonus feature, a prequel of Portia’s story called A Cord of Three Strands.
To receive your copy, forward your Amazon order confirmation to email@example.com.
Your Kindle copy of The Revisionary will be delivered on June 6. At that time, the print version will also be available for purchase.
I’m so proud of both of you. Congratulations.
Thanks for all the encouragement, Jann!