Date of interview: 17 September 2019
Born and raised in Clovis, NM, Kathleen M. Rodgers is a novelist whose stories and essays have appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and in several anthologies. In 2014, Rodgers was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus. Three of her aviation poems from the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill) were featured in an exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY. In 2017, the Clovis Municipal School Foundation in Clovis, NM awarded her the Purple Pride Hall of Honor Award under the "Sports and Entertainment" category.
Seven Wings to Glory, Rodgers’ third novel, deals with racism and war and won an Honorable Mention for War & Military in the 2017 Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards and was shortlisted for the 2017 Somerset Awards. Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, has garnered multiple awards, including the 2015 Gold Medal for literary fiction from Military Writers Society of America. The novel has been featured in Family Magazine, Stars & Stripes, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Southern Writers Magazine, and on "The Author's Corner" on Public Radio. The audio edition is narrated by Grammy® Award-winning vocalist and Broadway actress Leslie Ellis. Thorndike Press, the leading large print publisher in the United States, released Johnnie Come Lately and Seven Wings to Glory in hardcover large print editions in early 2018.
Rodgers is also the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times.
She and her husband, Tom, a retired USAF fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, reside in North Texas with their two rescue dogs, Denton and Jav. The mother of two grown sons, Thomas and J.P., and grandmother to Reader and Colton, she has recently completed her fourth novel and is at work on her fifth. She is represented by Diane Nine, President of Nine Speakers, Inc.
MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: I've been an active member since 2008. In 2009, I attended my first conference in Orlando, FL. Although I've benefited professionally from the organization, more importantly I've made long-lasting friendships with other writers.
MWSA: What writing projects are you working on these days?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: I'm four chapters into my fifth novel, set in eastern New Mexico where I grew up. On my way to the 2019 MWSA/SWW joint conference in Albuquerque, NM, I stopped by an abandoned church I've been passing by my whole life. Until a few months ago, I had no idea this old building would find its way into one of my novels. Let's just say it was a magical moment.
MWSA: Why did you become a writer?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: I grew up in a large family with six kids. I'm the third one down. I became a writer to "have a voice."
MWSA: Why do you incorporate military themes into your contemporary fiction?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: Back when I was a young military spouse, I was hungry to read articles and books about other service member spouses and families. It didn't matter what branch as long as I was reading about other people who were living the service member family lifestyle. This was before the days of the internet. In my work as a writer, my mission is to shine the spotlight on service member families and bring them into the mainstream.
MWSA: You attended the 2019 MWSA/SWW Joint Conference. What are the benefits of attending a MWSA conference?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: I'm a people person. I love to see old friends and form new bonds with other kindred spirits. We each bring something unique to the organization, regardless of our backgrounds. I believe we can learn from each other. Every time I attend a national conference, I meet new people and my perspective about the world expands. I do not want to live in a vacuum.
MWSA: What do you hope for the future of MWSA?
Kathleen M. Rodgers: I hope more people join and get involved. We writers are stronger together. Writing and marketing is hard work and can leave a writer feeling depleted. But when we come together, we can create magic and a place where we have a chance to celebrate each other's achievements and victories.