I'm super excited to host Lisa T. Bergren today! Ms. Bergren has authored many books, but it's her River of Time series I want to highlight today. It's a teen time travel series in which two girls go from modern times to medieval Italy. I love how it combines the wonderful I-can-do-anything-I-put-my-mind-to mentality of the modern girl with the chivalry and honor of the men of history. A really captivating series.
And if you've already finished the first three, make sure you check out Bourne, a novella that continues the story. (I just received a copy - super excited to dive in!)
It was Rachelle Rea and Katie McCurdy who introduced me to the River of Time series, so I invited them to ask Ms. Bergren some questions as well:
From Rachelle, "Are you a plotter or pantser? Can you give us some insights into your writing process (what's unique about it, etc.)?"
I have a general idea on both plot and character arcs--"I want them to arrive here having accomplished/learned this"; the rest is a total pantser process, which I love, because it gives the story room to evolve along with the characters and plot. (But it makes writing a synopsis for my publisher really, really hard. I pretty much guess and send it in with the caveat, "Subject to change!")
Also from Rachelle, "If you could meet any writer, alive or dead, who would you meet and what would you ask them?"
Stephanie Meyer. "Can you read WATERFALL and consider telling your legion of fans what you thought?" But that might be more self-serving than what you were really after with this question... :-)
Most of the time, when I've read a book, I wonder about specifics--why they chose a certain setting, what they intended with a certain scene, if I understood a particular metaphor...I'd like to know what made C.S. Lewis turn the corner and become a believer, why Stephen King is so drawn to horror, what Dean R. Koontz really believes about God. But I don't really idolize any author enough to have a burning need to talk to them. Maybe it's because I'm an author myself, and I take another's story as an influence on me for the moment, and potentially longer, but it's not huge for me. Books and author fame have kind of settled into a "this is my work life" thing for me. I'm more intrigued with the people in my real, day-to-day life. :-)
From Stephanie - You are stranded on a deserted island and can bring only one book with you. What do you bring? (Aside from the Bible, let's assume the Gideons have been there and covered that).
See my response above. I've never been enamored enough with a book to read it more than once (there are always so many others in my stacks!), so I have no idea what I'd bring for the long haul. Perhaps some sort of heady theological volume, since I'd have all kinds of time and high need to entertain my brain. Or maybe something as simple as a daily devotional like Jesus Calling or My Utmost for His Highest, to help keep me focused.
I had never heard of My Utmost for His Highest until I started asking this question in interviews. Clearly, I need to get my hands on this book.
Lisa, I loved the River of Time series, but I gotta say ... the idea of choosing to be in the middle ages forever kinda skeeves me out. (I'm a big fan of flush toilets. And toothpaste.And Chinese food.) As Gabi wrestles with the decision (true love but no deoderant versus the safety of being a woman in the 21st century but no hunky knight) what kind of thoughts were going on in your mind?
I agree! Those thoughts that she was having were my own. It'd be really, really difficult to give up on modern conveniences--my comfort foam mattress, hot water, grocery stores, medicine.
Must be why Gabi's struggle felt so real! If you could somehow found a portal and could communicate to your newbie writer self (this isn't such a stretch for you to imagine, is it?) what are 3 nuggets of wisdom you've learned during your writing career that you wish you knew when you started writing?
(1) It takes tenacity. You have to stick with it, day in and day out, to get a manuscript done. Even if you're writing 250-500 words a day, you can get a novel done, in time. But you have to be determined and make yourself return to it.
(2) It's good to keep learning, and studying the craft of writing is always valuable. Writer's Digest, writers' conferences, even taking a class on writing. Good stuff.
(3) Don't take it so seriously. Just enjoy the process. If you get to publish, cool. If not, hopefully it's still grown you and entertained you in some way.
This question comes from Katie, "You know how crazy I am about Lord Rodolfo Greco, so I just have to ask...was he a character you planned to take such a central role in Torrent, or did he just suddenly make himself a main character?"
He totally shocked me by how he arrived, stayed, and grew. That's part of my pantser process that I loved. I got to the section where they're tracking Gabi and Lia and I thought, "Hmm. Wouldn't it be interesting to have him be handsome and irritatingly good at his task?" I wanted to humanize the villain--I already had an evil through-and-through character in Paratore. I wanted Greco to be more complex. And good grief, he pretty much stole the show!
Also from Katie, "Out of the three guys in the series -- Marcello, Luca, and Rodolfo -- which guy do you like the most?"
Marcello. He's so steadfast and loyal and sacrificial in his love. But Luca's charming humor and Rodolfo's intensity are certainly attractive in their own right!
Again from Katie, "You've written a variety of books, of different time periods. Which is your favorite to write? Medieval? Historical? Contemporary?
I like the historical context of any period. It gives me good fodder for the plot--what was happening at that time in history and how might it have affected my characters? It gets the wheels turning...What I adored most about River of Time was the combination of historical and contemporary. It just flowed out of me, it was so easy to write. Definitely a sweet spot that has me thinking about other time travel romances...
Which I'm sure your fans would welcome! Thanks so much for being with us, Lisa!
Question for you guys - if you could live in any time period, when would you pick? Or if your answer is like mine (I'm happy where I am, thank you!) what would be the hardest modern convenience for you to give up? I think Target might be a tough one for me. Though "epidurals" keep popping to mind too...
Lisa said she could pop in from time to time today, so when you leave your answer, feel free to tell her hello!