featured author: Barbara Rogan
Synopsis and Review of HINDSIGHT:
(click for Amazon purchase)
by Barbara Rogan
Simon & Schuster; ; (February 2003) ISBN: 0743205995
It was graduation night in 1972
when 9 friends made a pact to meet up again 20 years later for a reunion.
Biographer Willa Scott remembers the vow in 1992, and sets about to find her
friends for the planned reunion. Finding all but one, Angel, the wild and
promiscuous firebrand, the friends come together with different agendas and soon
itís clear that the bonds that once brought them together are surrounded by
doubt and uncertainty. The search for Angel leads Willa down a frightening
path, and soon the startling realization that one of them may be a killer leads
to ever-increasing danger putting all of their futures in jeopardy.
Let me start by saying that this
is a marvelous book. Roganís authentic and unflinching look at teenage
friendships as seen 20 years down the road comes highly, highly recommended.
Rogan has done a superior job in telling her story of these friendships being
re-examined through an adult eye. What does bring certain groups together as
youths, and where does that bond go in adulthood? And how well do we really
know and understand those we care for? Is it that people change, or simply our
perspectives of them? Her unsettling examination of these questions is
suspenseful and evocative, giving the reader much to think about during this
daringly honest look at growing up and facing our past, while bearing the grief
of finally letting go of the people weíve outgrown. This book is a rare one,
gripping and mesmerizing, it will keep the reader captivated until the final
BARBARA ROGAN was born in New York City in 1951 and grew
up on Long Island. After one year at St. Johnís College in Annapolis, Md.,
Barbara took a year off to work and travel in Israel and Europe. In 1973 she
earned a B.A. from St. Johnís after transferring to that collegeís Santa Fe,
After graduating from college, Barbara returned to New York and started
work at Fawcett Publishing House as a proofreader and copywriter. In January of
1974, she emigrated to Israel. Following an intensive language course and a
brief stint as a horse wrangler in the Galilee, Barbara took up residence in Tel
Aviv, where she worked as a production director and English editor for a Tel
Aviv publishing house.
One year later she established the Tel Aviv-based Barbara Rogan Literary
Agency, which specialized in representing American and European publishers and
agents for Hebrew-language rights. With a few years the agency had become the
largest in the country, supplying over 50% of the large Israeli market for
translated books. From 1981-1985 Barbara served on the board of directors of the
Jerusalem Book Fair.
In 1980, Barbara met and married Ben Kadishson, an Israeli musician. Their
first son was born during the 1982 war in Lebanon. During the same year,
Barbaraís first novel, CHANGING STATES, was published simultaneously in England,
the U.S., and Israel.
In 1984, Barbara sold the literary agency and moved with husband and child
to New York, where she has devoted herself to writing full-time. She and her
husband had a second son, born in Brooklyn in 1987. Since then sheís published
six additional novels, co-authored a book about the Middle East, and established
herself as a teacher of fiction writing.
An interview with Barbara:
1. Tell us a little bit about
your inspiration for HINDSIGHT?
Unlike any of my other books, the idea for HINDSIGHT came straight from my own
life. Growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War, I belonged to a tight-knit
bunch of glorious misfits and rebels. One night, as high school was drawing to
an end, we took a vow: No matter what happened, no matter where life scattered
us, we would meet again on New Years' Eve of the millennium.
Amazingly enough, some 30 years later, we did just that. We met at the stores
where we used to hang out, toured the old neighborhood on foot, and found it
not much changed. Later we retreated to our hostess's house to eat, drink and
reminisce; and I was struck, not only by the strength and elasticity of old
friendship, but also by the variable nature of memory. Events vividly recounted
by one person evoked not so much as a flicker of recollection in another; and of
the stories that were jointly recalled, there were many variants. How, I
wondered, does one go about triangulating the truth with nothing to go on but
conflicting memories? That, I believe, is the moment HINDSIGHT was conceived.
I loved the idea of setting my mystery in a reunion, because reunions bring
about encounters, not only with old friends and our unfinished business with
them, but with our own younger selves as well.
2. Are your characters loosely based on actual people, or
completely a figment of your imagination?
Having said that the story was sparked by a real-life incident, let me hasten to
add that the characters were not at all based on real people. I subscribe to the
philosophy of the English writer Ivy Compton-Burnett, who, when asked the same
question, replied that "people in life hardly seem to be definite enough to
appear in print. They are not good or bad enough, or clever or stupid enough,
or comic or pitiful enough."
3. How closely do your main characters in your novels
I suppose every character in every one of my books takes something from me,
often something unexpressed in my real life. But none is based on me. I have no
interest in autobiography, overt or disguised.
4. Tell us a bit about your writing schedule...is it
regular, or only when the mood hits you just right?
Writing only when the mood hits is fine as long as you're willing to eat at the
same intervals. For those who like three square a day, it's better to develop
work habits. I start my day with coffee-most important!-- and the New York Times
Crossword puzzle. By 9:30 or so I'm ready to start working. I usually begin by
re-reading and editing whatever chapter I'm working on; then I forge ahead. When
I'm actually writing, I put in a solid 7-8 hours a day, sometimes more,
depending on how late the book is.
5. Your previous books have very different types of
subject matter, where do these ideas come from?
Every one comes from a different place. I don't like to write the same book
twice. And the ideas can come from absolutely anywhere. SUSPICION was born one
day while I was procrastinating at my computer, playing card games with animated
characters who said bland things like, "I'd love to play hearts with you!" .
Wouldn't it be weird, I thought idly, if they actually said something personal,
something nasty, even?. ROWING IN EDEN started with a class exercise I gave my
writing students. The assignment was to write a first sentence for three
different novels, none of which they would be required to complete. Just to fill
in time while they were working, I scribbled a sentence of my own. "Even though
she'd asked for it, Sam Pollack could not help feeling guilty the day he killed
his wife." I had no idea why Sam had killed his wife, or how she'd asked for it;
and as no one could tell me, I ended up writing the book to find out.
6. Who are your favorite authors?
Very tough to say; because I'm constantly discovering writers to admire. But if
I look at my library, at the writers whose work earns precious shelf space
include Ron Hansen, Russell Banks, Alice Hoffman, James Lee Burke, Walter
Mosley, Alice McDermott, Pete Dexter, Jane Smiley, Barry Unsworth, Alice Munro,
Tobias Wolff, Brian Moore, and John le Carre, among many others.
7. It says in your bio that you once lived in Tel Aviv,
what kind of impact has that had on your writing?
Living abroad for a solid chunk of time is a great boon for any writer, I think.
Puts things in perspective, widens the horizons, gives one an excuse for feeling
like a stranger. Also, by immersing oneself in another language, one learns
how much thought is a product of language, certain thoughts being literally
unthinkable in particular languages.
8. What do you find to be the most satisfying aspect of
writing? The most frustrating?
The actual writing is the most satisfying part. Making something out of nothing.
Reading a day's work and thinking, This is good.
The most frustrating is ceding control over your book's destiny to others. But
one has to let go, in order to move on to the next book.
9. Is there anything you can tell us about your next
It's a political thriller, I've started writing it, and I'm having fun.
For more information on
Barbara's previous titles, please visit her website at :