Fellow writer Sean Taylor  has a weekly blog post http://seanhtaylor.blogspot.com/2015/01/something-to-say-writers-on-theme.html?spref=tw  that consists of him asking questions and fellow writers answering them.  I am usually invited to participate.  I usually miss this, because I'm working, or daddying, or frittering my spare time away, or eating, or sleeping, or frittering my spare time away.  This past week, he asked about theme.  I thought, "This time, I'll be sure to do it."  I didn't.  

    In this blog post, I will answer those questions anyway.  

   Robert J. Krog: Hi, Sean, old buddy, how'd those questions go again?

   Sean Taylor: Hi, Robert, looking over your body of work, does a cohesive theme seem to be present in it?  If so, what is it?
    Robert J. Krog: I was at my third ever event as a writer explaining what my first published work (The Stone Maiden and Other Tales) was about when a fellow writer stopped me in my faltering description and asked, "So it's an anthology, what's the theme?"  I paused, confused.  Were anthologies (It's a collection, really, but I didn't know the pertinent distinction, at the time.) supposed to have themes?  I wasn't certain what the theme of the title story was.  How was I supposed to know what the theme of the collection was supposed to be?  My response was an eloquent, "Hm."  
   Later, having had time to reflect, I told him the theme was loosely one of redemption, and that seems to be the case for the The Stone Maiden and Other Tales.  Though it could also be choice and consequence.  I've written quite a bit since then, covering themes of friendship and loyalty, adversity, sacrifice, and revenge, among others, although choosing between good and evil seems equally valid for many of my stories.  

Sean Taylor: Do you write with a theme in mind, or do you just have a worldview that writes itself into your work, through you?  Or do you write hard to keep anything that "meta" out of your work?  How so?

Robert J. Krog:  I find a story and a theme at about the same time, not always consciously.  I don't think in terms of, "I want to tell a story about friendship. How do I do that?" But I will answer a story call, thinking of a conflict or character, and a theme will easily follow.  I don't work hard to put a theme in or keep a theme out.  I have a very clear worldview, and that inevitably comes out in the story.  I was asked to write a story by a lady I know who is an editor and publisher of her own small press.  She asked for a tomato story.  Okay, I had to write a story about or featuring tomatoes.  It quickly became a fantasy, because fantasy occurs to me first, usually.  :)  I decided to make the tomato the hero, because, I'd never done that before.  I had to have a reason for the tomato to be alive... and from there, quite easily, it became a story of friendship and death.  I can't trace the exact line of thought back, and it was not all conscious design; much of it was whimsy.  I'm still working on the final draft of it.  

Sean Taylor: When writing, have you ever had so strong a sense of theme occur that you felt it overpowered the story? 
How did you remedy that?  

Robert J. Krog:  I have had that happen.  I wrote a story for an anthology about faith.  I set it after a zombie apocalypse and explored how faith is tested by dire circumstances.  It was hard, actually, since this anthology had a theme rather than a setting, (Most "themed" anthologies aren't themed, they are setting or subject oriented, both of which are different from theme.) to address the theme in a way that wasn't heavy handed.  This story, On The Raggedy Edge, was one I had to revise more than most, and this was to avoid preaching.   The main character found himself in the situation of trying to live according to the dictates of his faith when his fellow man was breaking with his faith all around him. The story was becoming a philosophical essay, and I was losing the narrative. I found that if I asked the question, "What would my character do in this situation?" I was able to get away from being heavy handed, and get back into the narrative.  On The Raggedy Edge didn't get accepted to the anthology.  The editor remarked that it was a good story, but not quite what they were looking for.  it's posted on my site in the section Free Stories.  Look it up and see if I was heavy handed or not.  Mind your bias, since I've already discussed the trouble I had writing it.  :)

 Thank you for the invitation, Sean Taylor, and I'm sorry that I didn't actually participate in the discussion on your blog.  

Disclaimer: Mr. Taylor didn't drop by my website, and I had to put a few words in his mouth.  The questions came directly from his blog.