Susan Rodgers has two passions: writing and filmmaking. Her worlds connect in the Drifter Series, a story about two actors and their lives in and outside a movie shoot. The Summerside resident native was inspired to write the series after working on the set of Emily of New Moon. The popular series, based on the L.M. Montgomery book, aired on CBC-TV from 1998 to 2000.
©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Susan Rodgers is a P.E.I. filmmaker.
She’s also an award-winning writer.
Her worlds converge in the Drifter Series, her four-volume romance collection chronicling the lives of actors Jessie Wheeler and Josh Sawyer and their friends on and off a movie set.
“I’m a visual thinker. People have told me that people are able to see what I am seeing (in my books),” says Rogers, who has a fifth book in the series coming out next month.
“So the stories that I come up with are all visual. And I can see them like a film or a photograph in my head,” says the Summerside resident, whose background as a cinematographer informs her writing.
In A Song For Josh, the first book in the series, she takes great care in introducing her characters.
Take Duece McCall, for instance. With his leering glance and careless handling of coffee mugs and people, she quickly establishesthe “45-year-old balding man with piercing green eyes” as the villain in the book.
“Details are important. They create a better visual painting so the reader can get inside my head and see what I see,” says Rodgers.
In another scene, Jessie comes on stage and starts
“Then, when she finishes the song, there’s a description of her looking out at the audience. You see the way her neck comes up and the expression in her eyes. I feel that’s the filmmaker part of me coming through,” says Rodgers whose descriptive work is receiving positive reviews from readers.
Andrea Wallace of Summerside says: “I love the fact that Susan brings her characters to life with real life situations and she has lovely descriptions of Prince Edward Island. It makes me believe in true love. It’s a must-read series.”
Angee Arsenault of Summerside, who read A Song For Josh, agrees.
“From start to finish, this book held me captive. Jessie is such a relatable character and her story is so painfully common that it reaches you at a soul level. Jessie could easily be that girl you went to school with, who just stopped showing up one day and you wonder, in passing, whatever happened to her,” writes Arsenault in Goodreads, a popular Internet book review column.
At Coles bookstore in Summerside, manager Kaethe Mueller is amazed how popular her books are.
“She has a huge following. Customers are continually coming in, looking for her books, often even before they are released. Women love her characters. They are addicted to her novels and can’t wait for them to come out,” she says.
For Rodgers, watching her books fly off the shelves is “overwhelming.”
“I’m humbled and amazed, especially around here where the print books have taken off and it’s all word of mouth.
“It’s people who are talking to each other and telling each other they love these books. So the reaction has been terrific.”
Mostly, readers are drawn to the main character.
“Jessie is just someone who, in spite of being someone who sees the positive, has had a difficult life. That’s what makes her special and the books special,” says Rodgers who has received letters from readers saying that her books have helped them overcome obstacles in their own lives.”
They see the things Jessie has gone through and somehow they can relate.
“One reader from Chicago wrote and said she experienced a lot of what Jessie had.
“Without coming out and saying it, it was probably sexual abuse. You learn more about what happened to Jessie, as you move along to the other books, especially in book three where a lot of her past is revealed.”
“I’ve just finished the fifth book, which will be out in mid-January, and there will be two more to come,” says Rodgers, who was inspired to write the series after working on the set for Emily of New Moon, a popular series which aired on CBC-TV from 1998 to 2000.
“So I draw from my own experience working on that particular set (in writing the books).”
AT A GLANCE
Susan Rodgers writer
Novels: A Song For Josh (Drifters, Book One, Promises (Drifters, Book Two), No Greater Love (Drifters, Book Three) and Riptide (Drifters, Book Four).
Hard copies are available at Coles, Avonlea Book store and Girlfriends Hair Studio in Summerside; The Book Mark, and Indigo in Charlottetown as well as Amazon.ca.
E-books are available from Amazon (Kindle), and Kobo.