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Bestselling Westport Author Of 'Lifeboat' Tackles Big Issues With Readers

Westport author Charlotte Rogan reads from her latest novel, "Now and Again" at Westport Library.
Westport author Charlotte Rogan reads from her latest novel, "Now and Again" at Westport Library. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

WESTPORT, Conn. — Charlotte Rogan freely admits she hears voices in her head, though “not in a Joan of Arc way.”

The voices the Westport author hears are those of her developing characters, the unique individuals she creates to tackle the universal realities of life — from the nature of truth and morality to the downsides of altruism.

While writing her newest book, “Now and Again,” she heard from Maggie Rayburn, a secretary at a munitions plant who stumbles upon a high-level cover-up and has to decide how to act on what she’s discovered.

“The truth is not a single thing,” she told an audience at an author talk at Westport Library this week. “As I wrote, new motivations crept in.”

“Now and Again,” which was released in April, is receiving good early buzz. A Washington Post reviewer called it “sprawling and vibrant,” while The Christian Science Monitor dubbed it “an absorbing search for less exciting than her first (novel).”

Rogan’s debut, 2012’s “The Lifeboat,” was nominated for The Guardian first book award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Goldsboro Books and Historical Writers Association debut historical fiction prize.

It has been translated into 26 languages and is in development as a film starring Anne Hathaway.

Rogan said the original idea for her new book came from a blog post of a munitions plant worker who was against the war in Iraq. He decided to quit his job and he reasoned that, if everyone else followed suit, there couldn’t be a war in Iraq.

The idea that the war has dragged on for more than a decade caused Rogan to consider the way Americans look it at through the lens of time and the 24-hour news cycle. She looked at her own thoughts on the situation as well.

“I was alternately completely horrified and completely oblivious,” said Rogan, who studied architecture at Princeton University and worked at a large construction firm before turning to fiction.

She said she loves writing fiction because of its ability to allow readers to consider larger issues, such as ethics and morality, along with the writer.

“It’s about how hard it to do the right thing, but also how hard it is to know what the right thing is,” she said.

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