I became of aware of Dan Roper the first time I saw an issue of the magazine he publishes, Georgia Backroads. My mother’s cousin Frank sent us a gift subscription. The magazine focuses on little-known stories in Georgia history. For a history buff like myself, it’s always a pleasure to read the latest issue. The photos are always compelling too; sort of like time travel.
Frank knew that I had researched my grandfather Bob Hasty’s major league baseball career and written a screenplay based on the story of the scandal that ended it. He urged me to write a story for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Dan via an email a couple of years ago, and Dan agreed it was a fascinating story.
Then I chickened out and didn’t write it.
I finally realized that I could tell the story in a way that honors my grandfather and clears up some old misconceptions, and I think I’ve accomplished that now.
Dan was a big help in editing my article down to the essential elements. Sometimes when I write about subjects very close to my heart it’s hard to retain any objectivity and that’s where a great editor is really valuable.
So where can you buy Georgia Backroads? As a general rule, the magazine can be found at Barnes & Noble, Publix, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, and some CVS stores. I called my local CVS today and they have in copies of the magazine. [You can see more here about the Autumn 2015 issue, and my article, Season of Ashes.]
Dan used to be an attorney and now he gets to edit and write a magazine, and so I knew he would be a great guy to interview here. He is a historian as well as a writer and editor. “He was awarded the Magazine Association of Georgia’s Best Series award for his “Vanishing Georgia” articles and the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Jefferson Davis Medal. He is a past director of the Rome History Museum.” [Northwest Georgia News]
What is your full name? Daniel Mack Roper
Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world? I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and from my earliest memories wanted to live in Georgia. So this is the place for me.
What is your favorite movie and why? I have lots of favorite movies. A few that come to mind: “Mister Roberts,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Nothing but the Truth,” the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and the modern “Sherlock Holmes” movies.
What was your least-favorite subject in school when you were a kid? Either physics or that part of English that concentrated on diagramming sentences.
What was your nickname when you were a kid? I didn’t have a nickname as a child, but I’ve had a lot in college and afterwards.
Do you believe in God? Yes. “Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His throne with exceeding glory; to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and ever. Amen.” Jude 25.
What sound or noise do you love? The call of owls is the first thing that comes to mind. In this part of Georgia, that mainly means barred owls and screech owls.
If you could do anything other than what you do, as a profession, what would it be? This is my first and only choice.
If heaven exists, what do you think it is like? The best thing I can think of is that heaven (as described in the Book of Revelation) will be a new earth, free of sin, corruption, pollution, decay and pain. That sounds pretty good to me! And if it’s better than that, Wow!
Do you have siblings? Yes. Four sisters and a brother.
What is your favorite memory of childhood [something specific]? Loving to read.
If you had to choose between one week traveling around the USA by car, or one week traveling around Europe on a train, which would you choose and why? USA by car. Knowing a place – its flora, fauna, people and history – adds a lot to my experience in traveling. I get more out of visiting a new place tucked in an area that I know that I do in visiting a place that is totally unfamiliar.
What inspires you? Creation, music, writing, poetry.
Which holiday do you prefer, Christmas or July 4th? I like both equally. Thanksgiving is my favorite, though.
What project or idea are you most passionate about, right now? I’m always working on stories; usually, the story I’m working on gets all my attention.
Do you know how to cook? A few things.
What is your favorite thing to cook/eat? When backpacking, almost anything and everything tastes good; so water and something simple like Spanish rice or my wife’s homemade bread and honey become the finest fare imaginable.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, for 2-4 weeks, all expenses paid, where would you go and why? I’d either choose the concentration camps of Poland and Germany [please see comments below for correction] plus Normandy or the islands of Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima in the Pacific. World War II history has been an interest when I was young, and much of my reading (and some of my writing) has involved these places. As for the concentration camps, that’s the saddest, most compelling chapter of human history that I’m familiar with.
Who do you love the most in the world? My wife and children.
What question has nobody ever asked you, but you wanted to answer? In teaching through the years, I’ve often told classes that I had two regrets in life. The first, I tell them, is that I didn’t thru-hike the Appalachian Trail when I was in college and had the time. Nobody followed up and asked me what the second regret was, so I’ve never told anybody (except my family). The second regret is that I didn’t become a Christian until late in my college years.