Author inspired by her childhood in Bath

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BATH — Using threads from the people and places she knew in Mid-Coast Maine, Morgan Callan Rogers wove a tapestry in her debut novel, “Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea.”

Set in a 1960s Maine coastal village called The Point, her coming-of-age story has earned rave reviews from publications like Entertainment Weekly and Portland Monthly. The book is available on and at local bookstores.

Callan Rogers, 60, who grew up in Bath and now lives in Portland, will return to her former city next week to read from and sell copies of her book at Patten Free Library, where she was an employee from the mid-1970s to early 1980s. The reading is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Along with being a librarian, Rogers has also been a journalist, an editor, an actress and a teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

“Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea,” which Callan Rogers called “a love letter to the people I grew up with,” tells the story of no-nonsense coastal Mainer Florine Gilham. Florine’s rite of passage into womanhood is triggered after her mother disappears. The resulting grief tears her from her father, but unites them as well.

Rogers said on Monday that she and the character of Florine are “very opposite,” noting that she is introverted and quiet while Florine is “in your face, although by nature she is shy. She comes from one of the fishing villages that are all up and down the coast of Maine, and it’s a pretty insular community.”

Florine is helped through her trials by a tight group of friends, and she becomes a strong, honest and fearless young woman.

“She’s what I would call ‘in life,'” Callan Rogers added. “As a writer, I’m an observer. … (Florine) is probably a little more like my sister and her friends, who went to parties and had a ball and got in a little trouble and got out of it, and they’re still die-hard friends 40 years later.”

Although the book was released in the U.S. just last month, a German version debuted in 2010, has sold more than 100,000 copies, and earned a Reader’s Choice award in general literature. The book has also been released in Australia and will be available in Spain and Italy.

“It’s just been kind of a fairy tale story,” Rogers said. “… I knew we had something special, because (Florine’s) voice was really authentic” – so much so that the character sort of guided the author’s path in writing the story.

“It was just a joy to write,” she said. “It was just an organic experience as a writer.”

When not living in Portland, Callan Rogers spends her time in South Dakota, where her partner runs an art gallery.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Sidebar Elements

Morgan Callan Rogers of Portland, who grew up in Bath. Her first book is “Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea.”

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.