Roman a club: Onset author tells Alzheimer’s story through golf
Onset-based author Steve Rogers says that his new book, “Still Lost,” is a probe into the depths of his soul. With experiences taken from his own life, he says that the book will “bury” those who have wronged him in the past (with fictional names, of course) without fear of hurting their feelings.
It’s quite a turn for an author whose most recent books were “Dogs Can Fly,” “Bogey the Wonder Squirrel” and “The Miracle of Helen the Rabbit.”
After writing the “Critter Trilogy” of children’s books for his grandkids, Rogers is returning to adult drama. “Still Lost” is a sequel to his 2010 novel “Lost in Love Grass,” which used Rogers’s favorite game, golf, to tell the story of Ryan, an 85-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I needed to write this sequel for my own benefit,” Rogers said. “It’s a cathartic experience for me. I unload some stuff that I have never unloaded before. Some very dark stuff.”
Rogers is currently editing the 50,000-word novel, which he wrote in three and a half weeks.
“I went through a period of clarity,” he said. “When you get in that zone, you can write for hours and hours. The words just flow.”
Both sides of Rogers’s family have a history of Alzheimer’s. His great grandmother, his wife’s father and several other relatives have had the disease. His sister, the “driving force” of “Lost in Love Grass,” lives in a memory care facility in South Carolina and no longer recognizes her brother.
“It’s an insidious disease,” Rogers said. “There’s a certain joy in that, that we can still communicate. But that portion of her mind is dead.”
As he cared for his family members with Alzheimer’s, Rogers found that they were “unfiltered” and always shared their true feelings. He not only gave that quality to the narrators of his books, but found that in order to tell the story truthfully, he had to be “unfiltered” as well.
While “Lost in Love Grass” had only one narrator, “Still Lost” is told from the perspective of several outspoken characters, such as a CIA agent and Ryan Jr., who is developing Alzheimer’s like his father.
“Still Lost” contains all of the stories that Rogers has accumulated in the last 12 years, and those he did not include in the first book. All of the characters are extensions of not only his family members, but of himself.
“Those stories are my story,” he said.
The connecting thread between all of the characters is golf, which Rogers called the “perfect vehicle to tell the story.”
“I always knew that if I ever wrote a book, it would somehow be golf-centric,” he said. “I never knew how to tell that story until I came up with the Alzheimer’s connection.”
Rogers is a lifelong golf lover. He moved to Onset specifically so that he could live near a golf course.
“When they step on the Astroturf putting green,” Rogers said of his characters, “they have this transformation. They have their only lucid thoughts.”
The titles “Lost in Love Grass” and “Still Lost” come from an expression Rogers heard while playing golf in Ireland. When he hit his ball into the heather, his caddy said that it was “lost in love grass.”
Rogers sees “love grass” as a symbol of the game of golf, Alzheimer’s and any situation that it is impossible to get out of.