(Donna Munro interview with Sandra L. Rogers, Mermaid Waters, Qld Australia)

Long before Zeus Publications began Sandra Rogers was writing stories. She knew it would just be a matter of time until her work was published. Desperately wanting to become an author, Sandra believed a certain publishing company would help her fulfil her dream but instead the dream was shattered and she tried to make sense of it. This bad experience was the main reason Sandra, and husband Bruce, started up their own publishing house.

Sandra and Bruce Rogers (Christmas 2008 Zeus Party) believe everyone should be kinder to each other.

Some writers give up after something so discouraging but with Bruce’s help Sandra pulled herself together and tried another strategy towards publication. She published her own books. Having her books in print was a magical experience and she wanted to share it with fellow writers. So began Zeus Publications.

Since then she has proved that she’s prolific with Waves of Torment being re-released in 2009 and her first non-fiction book An Unbelievable Life – the authorised biography of Lynn Santer being launched at a star-studded event in 2010.

It all began (as rightly it should) with It Begins but Never Ends and the sequel Beyond Armageddon followed. Beyond Armageddon has so many parallels to what’s happening in the world today I wanted to ask Sandra how she had imagined something that seemed so far-fetched. Thirteen years after the books inception many of the events Sandra fictionalised have strangely come to be reality, or eerily close to what she had written.

Beyond Armageddon is not a doomsday book because there’s plenty of light, happiness and emotion with a view to a better world. Yes, there is an Armageddon but it’s kind of like a rebirth, although earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, Cyclones and Tsunamis are all tragically and realistically portrayed I was totally immersed in the possibility of it all. When I read it I marvelled at how Sandra perceives the choices people make and the way they treat this planet and each other. If you get a chance to read it – do.

If you don’t have questions about your own mortality afterwards I’d be astounded.

I asked Sandra questions about her second book and how relevant it is today. 

Donna: Sandra, where did the ideas come from to write Beyond Armageddon?

Sandra: When I finished my first book It Begins but Never Ends I started to think about a sequel. After all, the title referred to the cycle of life and in the last poignant words of the novel the reader knew the story would continue. I thought about the message in the first book about reincarnation and the lessons we learn in life and how precious it is. I needed to go further and just switch on my imagination and let the story flow. And that’s how it happened. I walked along the beach and gazed over the ocean, the beautiful Gold Coast, and imagined how we would feel if all this was gone; everything that most people took for granted. Suddenly ideas started to swim around in my head and I raced home to write them down. I thought of all the ‘what ifs?’ in the world at that time, and my imagination seemed to weave all the characters (and there are so many) into the story. I knew the young people of the families would be the heroes and in particular Dean would lead them into a new world. Naturally I carried out research for some of the scenarios but never became bogged down too much in the science or technology side of the story.

Donna: Could you ever have imagined that similar events would actually be happening in 2010 and beyond?

Sandra: All the time I was writing Beyond Armageddon I had a strong gut feeling; at times it was rather eerie, that what I was thinking was actually a vision of the future. I knew this couldn’t be true because I was just making it up as I went along. Never in my wildest dreams did I think any of it would become a reality; or even close to it. When I finished the story I had the year of the asteroid impact as early 2012, then for some unknown reason I went back and changed it to 29th March 2013. To this day I don’t believe what I have written will happen and I pray to God it won’t.

Donna: With the recent flash flood sweeping through Toowoomba I could see parallels in Beyond Armageddon because of the fact that the area is one big extinct volcano. The scenario is different but the fact is there. How did you feel when you heard about those tragic events?

Sandra: The subject of Toowoomba is very emotional and personal to me. I lived there with my husband for a year before we went to Greece and have some close friends there. I used the setting of Toowoomba in It Begins but Never Ends for the ‘healing farm’ and other places in the area. I would mention a great deal of that book is taken from our personal life. So there was a necessary connection to the area in the sequel. I used the fact that Toowoomba had been an extinct volcano and wrote the frightening drama about the volcano erupting and the earthquake. The scenario is different to the recent floods but the shocking tragic events are very similar and I get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye every time I think about it. 

Donna: And recently the newspapers came out with maps on how the Gold Coast could be flooded and you go a step further than that in the book, with much of the coastline disappearing. This kind of fact was proven with the tidal surges in the wake of  Tropical Cyclone Yasi and the overflow of rivers and dams in the recent floods.

Scientists and professionals have shown us simulations on how the ocean can encroach on our land but how did you know these facts 10 years ago?

Sandra: I have always felt that many coastal areas around the world would be affected if the ice in the North or South poles were to break up and melt. In my story I also had the impact of the asteroid hitting earth and the subsequent tidal waves and surges. As I said before, this was just in my imagination; though when I was writing it, I felt it could actually happen that way. To me, I believed the Gold Coast would be very hard hit and the only safest place would be Springbrook  and the mountain areas.

Donna: Do you believe that these ideas came to you because a story like this had to be told? 

Sandra: Yes, I do believe the ideas were given to me as a warning to mankind. Most certainly this is a profound and challenging story that had to be told. I wrote it as a message to mankind to protect and appreciate what we have, our earth and especially each other. While the Christian theme is strong I have bought in other religions and faiths, this is a universal story with plenty of drama, romance and passion that everyone could relate to.      

Donna: And what about beings on other planets – do you believe they are out there ready to help us if we do destroy our own planet?

Sandra: Along with many other people, I do believe there are others out there. It would be shocking to think it was just ‘us’ and we were all alone in the vast universe. But, like humans I believe there are good and evil in other species. Therefore in the story, the alien battle is just like humans have treated each other with wars of the past and present. Naturally good conquers evil, but not before a prolonged frightening climax takes many lives. The reality of Aliens helping us would be up to whether our leaders would listen; just like I told it.

Donna: North Korea is a turning point in the book. Do you believe our governments need to do more to make sure things don’t escalate in overseas countries, or should they butt out? I see parallels to your North Korea and what’s happening in Libya now.

Sandra: I used North Korea, but it could have been any other country with nuclear weapons. Our Government and other countries can only do so much to peacefully persuade threatening countries to stop what they want to do. In our times we live on a very fine edge, things could go either way and whoever pushes the first button will destroy everything.

Donna: So, what is the ultimate message of the book?

Sandra: The biggest message in the book: Mankind has a record of violence, hatred and greed as it has strived for power, wealth and control with complete disregard for our planet and our fellow-man. We must change and realize the most important thing is the precious gift of life, for without it there is nothing. No matter how much power mankind has, he will never control the weather or catastrophic events. Whether the future is in the hands of fate, the hands of God, or in our own hands, we must enter the Millennium with courage and faith that our planet will never die, that it will never end. 

All of Sandra’s books can be purchases at http://www.zeus-publications.com but if you are looking to purchase Beyond Armageddon go to: http://www.zeus-publications.com/beyond_armageddon.htm

It can also be bought at the smallest bookshop in the world The Zeus Book Boutique, Waterways Wonderland Shopping Centre, Mermaid Waters.

Sandra Rogers continues to write today; her own stories, ghost writing and screenplays. You can see short films and scripts at: Film Scripts 4 U  Sandra has and affinity with anything Greek, has Russianheritage to add to her Australianity and is a confessed water baby who rode surfboards in Dee Why in the 1960s and today scuba dives at every opportunity.

Interviewer Donna Munro‘s writing can be found at: Warm and Witty Words, Writing Woman’s World, Donna’s Writing Wall, Books Zeus and Book Bulletin.