My current book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is a True Crime Biography. Here is the blurb:
Leslie Ibsen Rogge, number seven on the FBI’s most wanted, robbed more than 30 banks without firing a shot. In Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals, Les details his adventures from Alaska to Antigua, the Chesapeake to Cancun. But it all came to a halt when a fourteen-year-old in Guatemala found Les on the new FBI web site forcing him to surrender and becoming the 1st Top Ten criminal caught due to the internet. Few felons have been as forthcoming about their successes, failures, robbery techniques, passion for sailing vessels… and love for his wife.
Wanted was a finalist in the Reader Views Literary Book of the Year Awards for 2010 www.readerviews.com/Awards2010Winners.html
Tell us something about yourself.
I live outside of Portland, Oregon with my wife and two small children, and when I’m not marketing the book I’m either spending time with my family or playing golf or racing my motorcycle. My first book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber was inside me for years before completion and it is one of my greatest accomplishments. I have my MBA and am looking forward to my career in books. I was a technical writer for years in architecture and manufacturing fields, so when my uncle and I decided to write Les’s biography it was simply another research project dictating his life on paper. I owe a big thanks to my editor who took my good story and turned it into a great read!
What inspired you to write this book?
Right when I began writing my book I saw the movie Blow with Johnny Depp, and this movie inspired me to finish my book. George Jung was the subject of the movie, and while he was in prison he wrote his memoir that became the book and then the movie. I realized this was a similar story to mine just a different industry. So I wrote George in prison, and he gave me a great testimonial for my book which has hooked many good reviews.
How did you approach Leslie about the project?
Leslie is my uncle. When Les surrendered in 1995 and ended up in prison in ’96 he and my mother started writing letters back and forth. My mother wrote letters, but Les wrote amazing stories that spanned his car theft days that transitioned into one of the best bank robbery careers the FBI has seen. My mother cherished these stories, so I put them into the computer for her and to save them forever. After I put 20 short stories into a timeline and asked Les to put them in order, and over the next 8 years we wrote his life story together.
How did you conduct the interviews?
I visited Les in prison, but those were mostly social visits since I couldn’t bring even a pencil in with me. I did get to listen to him tell stories, and I realized that I had to capture his verbal story telling voice within the book since he is an amazing story teller. The real interviews were through hand-written letters and phone calls.
Did you find conflicting accounts as you did your research?
Les’s case and career was well-documented in his case file and newspaper articles, so proof of his accounts were already available. He had his own version of the story and first-hand details of what really occurred, and he had stories of the bank robberies that he was never caught for. The only conflicting accounts were in the exact details of the stories between Les and his wife Judy as they both reflected back on the same stories and bickered about the details.
Were there any questions that Leslie wouldn’t answer?
He had some interaction with celebrities, and he didn’t want me to mention their names because they were very intoxicated and did embarrassing things. He thought he would embarrass them, so he wanted these stories left out. He didn’t ever want to get anyone in trouble.
How did Leslie respond when he read the book?
Since Les has a mechanical mind he really enjoyed the original version of the book that was true to my art. I captured his voice but also laid the book out in a logical, basic timeline. But after my editor rearranged the timeline, modified the way I told his story and removed some of the slower stories that she thought would lose readers, he didn’t like it. Some of the stories that were priceless to him were removed, and this upset him. It upset me too, but it was a blessing since she took a good story and turned it into a well-written and easy-to-read story that was exciting and made you laugh and cry. I’m sure Les has accepted the final draft, but he liked it in the raw version.
What is one of your favorite stories from the book?
Les and Judy were on their sailboat down in the Bahamas with some friends and were drinking. They had a small dog on board, and they wanted to play a trick on a neighbor boat. So late one night Les swam over to the neighbor boat and placed the dog on the deck and told him the dog to go big potty, then they waited and watched in the morning and about fell of their boat when the guy saw it and wondered how a bird could go that size! It was so funny that they did it again the next night with more people watching, and the guy reacted the same only now he was cursing holding his fist to the birds as he kicked to second poop overboard. He ended up moving on that day, but Les and his friends were dying laughing that day. This is the kind of mischief he got into in between bank heists.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Mostly I need to learn something when I am reading, or I feel I’m wasting time. So I read biographies of all kinds. I just finished Open by Andre Agassi, and now I’m reading The Peyton-Allan Files by Phil Stanford. I’m the same way with movies, so I watch either biopics or Disney movies with my kids. I don’t have one favorite author just a favorite genre.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Get to know the prepub reviewers before your book comes out, and make sure you capture the prepub reviews. Getting prepub reviews will save you thousands later marketing to libraries and book stores. Reviews are free marketing, and assuming you have a great book marketing is the most important thing in selling your book! Get the word out…
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Wanted is a true love story with a bank robbery background, so my readers are true crime enthusiasts, biography readers or readers who like non-fiction action stories. It’s been labeled a great summer beach read, so I guess beach combers need to be added to that list!
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers can check out the book here: