Hey Girls! Here is part two of our fabulous interview with author Lisa Tawn Bergren. (part 1 is in our previous post)
Thanks for listening!
Here is the written version of the podcast/interview::
Hi Girls, and welcome to part 2 of our Lisa Bergren interview. Let’s get started. How do you come up with the story ideas?
Usually it’s like I want to write this sort of thing, an example would be right now I’m working on a series called the Sugar Baron’s daughters. It’s set in the 1770s, and it’s about three girls whose dad dies, and they live on this plantation in Nevis in the West Indies. And they do what no women did in that time, they set sail for the west Indies and take over the plantation. They’re facing horrific slavery and the beginnings of the American Revolution, and piracy, so it’s a very evocative time period, I’m having a blast with it. But the story idea came from me being in Kauai last year, I was with my husband, and I picked up a non-fiction book and started reading about the Sugar plantations there. I just thought, that’s so interesting I wonder what the sugar plantation industry is all about and what that was like. What I learned shortly was that it really dominated world society in the 15th, 16th, 17th centuries in huge ways because of the financial impact. So that was where that story idea came from. You know, I think story ideas are all around us. Authors are always asking the “what if” question. What if this happened, or what intrigues me about that idea, would that be interesting to alot of people, and what is it that makes that story draw people’s attention. I think authors are generally curious people and are always up for learning. So if you are always up for learning you will always be uncovering new ideas that will spark story ideas in your head.
That’s great because I love learning!
Your Sugar Baron books, are you planning for it to be a series, or a trilogy?
Yeah, three books, Sugar Baron’s Daughters, and the first one is Keturah. The names of all three girls, Keturah, Emilene, and Selah. They will begin to release in April of 2018 with BethanyHouse.
Wow, great, are you currently writing the first, second or third?
I’m actually waiting on pins and needles to hear from my editor about book one and then I’ll rewrite that during June. I’ll push right into book two while my head is engaged with the story. I’m going to get a draft of book two together by fall.
Do you like writing in the first person, or what’s your favourite point of view to write from?
That’s a good question. The first person, I love that it’s so close. You feel like you’re that person, that character. And I just love that. That was super appropriate for my YA’s. I think that what’s challenging about that is that you don’t get to see the story from other’s people’s heads. You don’t get anyone else’s perspective. And when you’re telling a story, it’s complicated because you can only be where your main character is. With a point of view you always have to think of a horse with blinders on. You can only see what that horse sees. And so, if your main character is missing something critical then you are too. That can play into your story, it’s just more challenging to write than third person for sure.
I love reading books, diaries, like Remnants. How did you get the idea for Andriana in Remnants to be an empath so that you could get other people’s thoughts and what they are thinking involved in the story?
I wanted my Remnants all to have unique spiritual gifts, and for her, she really senses their emotions. Which helps her guess what they’re thinking. And I think that we all have the gift of empathy to a certain amount. You know if we’re in tune to how God is speaking to us, and in tune to our fellow brothers and sisters, we get a sense to what people are feeling even now. Don’t you think?
So that’s how I came up with her gifts and I think that’s something that God calls all of us to develop. That’s how I wrote that in.
Are all your books first person?
Nope, just my YA. River of Time, and Remnants.
Is the Sugar Baron trilogy?
No, it’s third person. But it’s very close third person, but it just allows me to bring in other characters as I need them.
You said that you love writing in many different genres, which is your favourite? I know that’s hard.. haha
I think the easiest thing I’ve ever written was River of time. It just flowed because I love that there is just such a solid sense of danger and adventure, that there was solid romance. And then the whole position of a contemporary character being in those times, made it easier to write because I didn’t have to come up with language that was appropriate for that historical era. That just was fun, it was a fun series to write, and to read as well.
Is that your favourite book that you’ve written??
I think that was my favourite series to write from beginning to end. But my favourite BOOK I wrote was “The Begotten” in the Gifted series. That is historical supernatural suspense. It’s similar to Remnants in a lot of ways, and it really was the precursor to River of Time. I had done all that research in Italy for that time in the 14th century. So I just used that research when I started writing River. For me there are a number of reasons why I like Begotten. First of all, it’s because God had asked me to take a hiatus, since I had been writing so much. I was feeling very burned out and the words He gave me were “You need fallow time”. Fallow time in the fields is when you just leave the fields dormant, you don’t plant anything, you don’t plow anything, you just leave it alone. So for three years I just stopped writing, and when God encouraged me to start writing again, it was Begotten that He gave me as an idea. I was super fresh, and super passionate again and I loved diving in to the historical research of that era. I loved the supernatural suspense, the whole good versus evil, which is probably part of what you liked in Remnants too. It’s just so good for me to remember that ther’s a battle going on all the time. We need to pay attention to that unseen world as well as our physical world because God wants us to do that.
Did you miss writing during those three years?
Not at all, isn’t that weird? I had written so many books by then, you’d think that I’d miss it. But I think that clearly that was what God wanted for me at that time. At that time I was trying to build a business that failed, and I got pregnant with my third child. Looking back, if I had tried to be writing when I was on the edge of burn out, and facing the stresses of our lives during those years, it might have just took me out. He knew, and I’m thankful that I obeyed that call to not do anything for a while.
He helped you to relax.
What is the most important lesson that God has taught you?
I think that what God continues to teach me, year in, and year out, is that I am a child of His that is covered by grace, fully forgiven, empowered, and loved beyond all measure. And when I am able to live out that lesson day by day I feel more calm and strengthened for my day and everything I encounter. I think that is what He wants everyone to learn.
Hmm. What is your favourite Bible Story?
Um, I think I’m kind of intrigued with the story of Jonah and how he wanted to run away from what God wanted him to do. God continued to pursue him. I’m fascinated by Bible characters or people in the Bible who are clearly spoken to by God. Yet they have a will of their own, how God wrestles with them, encourages them, and sometimes knocks them upside the head, or hugs them tight just as they need Him. I love that active relationship aspect of all of Scripture. God is calling to us through every single story we read, He’s all about relationships.
Yes, and we need to make sure that we have a relationship with Him because that is what He so wants from us.
The more we build that relationship the stronger we become.
What is your favourite Bible verse?
I love the verse from Ephesians 3, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” I can barely repeat those words without getting all teary. If anyone could understand how much, how MUCH we are loved, it would empower us to live it out in amazing ways that would change this world.
Those are really strong words because we need to realize how much He loves us, and once we realize that, it shapes the way we look at everyone else, it changes our perspective, it changes how we react to others, it changes everything!!
Uhuh, a lot of us know, “yeah, God loves me, I know that” but but those words say, “being rooted and grounded in love”. It’s like our soil, if we could really make it our soil, we would flourish.
What is your favourite book to read other than the Bible of course?
You know, I have never read a book more than once, other than C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I’m always interested in the new books, so I couldn’t tell you my favourite. Of late, my favourite books to read are Fantasy YA fiction. I read widely though, I read non-fiction, I read all sorts of adult novels. I was the kid who read the back of the cereal box every morning, so I’ll read whatever’s in front of me. Haaha!
Yeah, me too! haha! In my family, I’ll be reading the back of the cereal box and they take it to use the cereal, and I’m like, “No, I was reading that!” They’re like, “Why do you want to read the back of the cereal box??” haha Which book specifically in Narnia do you like?
Well, it’s probably been about 15 years since I reread them. I just love the whole idea of being called, this call to action. How God is using each and every one of those characters. How each character is fallible and sinful in their own ways. But God continues to use all of them to get them to what He wants them to do. It’s the overall message that is so evocative and so inspiring to me.
You said you’ve been reading Fantasy YA a lot recently, what specific books?
I LOVE Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series. It’s secular but there’s a lot of light and dark in there. I love that! I’ve been reading the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard with my daughter. That was really good. I think those are my two favourites of late.
Great, so what is the meaning of life to you? I know many different people have different ideas of what the meaning of life is, but what is it to you?
The meaning of life to me is to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul and to do my best to love others, and everyone He puts in my path.
That’s a great message! How do you know what is right and wrong? Because a lot of teens, girls, boys, and everyone really struggles with what is right and wrong. Is it what the law says, is it what I think is right and wrong? What is it?
In today’s day and age there are a lot of gray areas, right? I think that right and wrong always squares up with Scripture and people you want to emulate. Your parents, your youth group leader, or people on the radio that you admire. Whoever it is that you admire if you think that they’re living a godly life in what you’re deciding to do make sure it lines up with scripture first. Do people I admire and want to become more like, what would they say about this.
Yeah, so thank you for answering all these questions, and just to wrap up, I have one more for you.
Do you have a message you specifically want to tell our listeners?
I would like to encourage everyone to always be seeking to go a bit deeper. I think we’re so distracted and caught up in all the things that draw our attention in today’s world. Especialy for teens, there’s so much on our pnones and online that might pull us away from the deeper things in life that really matter. They might point us there too. I wish that everyone could thinnk about how much time am I allocating to social media, or time with my friends and family, and time with my God. If things are out of balance it’s something that you need to examine and correct as fast as possible. All things, friends, family, God. Work, homework all requires time and energy. But sometimes life just happens to us, but I don’t think God intends for us to let life just happen to us he wants us to be people of purpose, and be very intentional. So tick this off periodically, see where you are, see what God’s calling you to do, and make changes as you need to do them.
Thank you for this interview and for taking this time and it was amazing to speak to you.
It’s fun to speak to you too,it’s great to put the face with the name.
Yeah, thank you!
Have a great day Keilah!
You too, thank you! Okay girls, bye for now!