Hey Girls! It’s so exciting that we could interview award-winning author, LISA TAWN BERGREN!! I am so thankful that she gave us her time, and gave us this awesome opportunity. I don’t know if you girls remember, but I did a post a while back, reviewing her Remnants trilogy (here’s the link: Click Here ), it was amazing! Here is the first part of our interview. Make sure you listen to the next one, it will be posted next week!!!
Check back soon for the rest of the written interview!! (P.S. I am still going to keep my promise on the song podcast! :D)
Keilah (bold) Lisa Tawn Bergren (without bold)
Hey Girls and welcome to our Guiding God’s Girls Podcast. Today we are interviewing an author, and I love her books, so she is here to talk with us a little bit about her story. So Lisa, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m a mom, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My kids are pretty big these days, 21, 18, and 14. And when my kids got to be teenagers I started to be more interested in writing for teenagers. I’m not sure, but I think that’s how you discovered me, through my YA fiction. You know, I just love writing YA, but I write all kinds of things, I write for Adults, and I write nonfiction as well.
Yes, I did find you through your YA fiction, and I didn’t realize it was you, but we have some of your books for children.
I love it! I love that I can be involved in people’s lives from the time that they are children until they grow up.
When did you know that you wanted to become an author? When your kids were teenagers?
You know, I always was a huge reader, and I liked to write, and I thought it would be fun, but it seemed like a crazy dream, and I never thought it was possible. So I started to pursue publishing as a career because I knew that I would love to be around books as much as possible. But the same day I got a job in marketing for a publisher, I also pitched a novel to them, and they accepted it. It was the crazy Christmas sort of day, where I got my first real job for a publisher, and a publishing contract.
God has just opened doors from there on out. I worked full time for a long time. It took me about five or six books before I could really say I was an author, it was almost like I was afraid to claim that title! So I think I’ve always thought that it would be fun to be an author, but it took me awhile to come around to the idea that, “yeah, I’m actually an author”.
Wow, small beginning but a great journey! So for me, I love reading like you do and I want to start writing but I’m kind of nervous to get started.
Yeah, I know the feeling! Have you ever done NaNoWriMo, write a novel in a month… in November.
No, I haven’t done that yet. Is that something I should try out?
Yes, I think that anyone who is interested in becoming an author, should try it out. There’s all kinds of support online, and it’s interesting to be writing a novel, and I think they categorize 50,000 words as a really short novel. I also tell people to check out Writer’s Digest, and go to your local library, they often have back issues, and there are a lot of articles about Fiction writing and Non-Fiction writing, they kind of categorize their articles for different kinds of writers. You can go through, and learn all kinds of things from old magazines.
Yeah, I’ve gone through some old magazines, I’ve also got some books that authors have written about writing books.
There are some great resources out there!
So how did you come to know the Lord?
Well, you know, our relationship has always been a part of my life. It became more vibrant for me after college. I was actually in Park City, Utah and I was bartending for the winter, and I was a ski bum! So I was very far away from my faith roots, and I got super, super depressed. After a while, my mom sent me Christian fiction novels by Frank Peretti, and I pulled out my old Christian music – Michael W. Smith at that time – and some songs and that fiction spoke to me so clearly that I had my own reformation. It was this phenomenal weekend where I was really called back to Him, in a very vibrant way.
I went from Park City, Utah, to Israel and Egypt, and I did a lot of soul searching and seeking His will in my life. I knew I wanted to work in the industry where He had spoken so clearly to me. So I came home, and worked for a Christian music company for a while, and then I got a job with a Christian publisher. My faith life has become stronger every year, so it’s an ongoing process.
That’s great, what did you do in the music company where you worked?
Well, I worked for a Christian music company that was trying to begin a publishing division, I just happened to fall in with them. I was trying to find publishing professionals that could help them build their division. And I ended up going to work with other people that were already established. It was kind of an odd experience, because I was trying to hire people to be my boss, people who knew what they were doing. Haha 😀
What was your inspiration for your first book, the one that you submitted to those publishers?
At that time, there were very few Contemporary Christian romances on the market. So when I started thinking about writing a book, it was because a friend of a friend had written a Harlequin romance, and I thought “Gosh, it’s somebody I know, I know somebody who knows somebody who can write a book, maybe I could do that!” And I thought, you know, a romance is fairly basic in format, you know, boy meets girl, boy and girl get together, boy and girl break up, boy and girl get back together again. That format kind of gave me some comfort and security.
I set up to write a novel, and at that time, a friend went to Montana to marry a rancher. She had a friend who was also marrying a rancher and they had gotten together because she had answered an ad in a Rancher’s Journal looking for a girlfriend and that was their version of match.com. I thought that was fun, what would happen if somebody answered a personal ad and got married, that was the beginning feed of that novel. And I love Montana, and I’ve spent every summer of my life up there, that was my setting. That novel was what sbecame Refuge, my very first novel. When it was published it did crazy well, ridiculously well. God smiled, because there were way better books out there than my very first novel. But God clearly had a plan in mind and blessed me.
How long did it take you to write the very first novel?
I think that book took me a good year. I’m a fast writer these days, but I think that took me a long time. I was kind of tinkering here and there, when you don’t have a contract, and you’re thinking that it might just be a dream, it’s kind of hard to just get down and get a lot of words written. I think that’s part of the reason why I like NaNoWriMo for beginners. It’s that impetus to keep going and to get a comprehensive story together.
So did you do Camp NaNoWriMo?
I have never done it. That kind of came up after I had been writing for a long time.
How long do you sit down and write? How many words do you write in an hour?
I’m a very fast writer these days. It takes me 6-9 months to research, and think about a novel, or a series, and I get a lot of ideas down. When I’m ready to write, I sit down and write intensely. I’ll write for 5-8 hours a day, and I can write a good thousand words an hour.
So yeah, I’m super productive when I get to that place, but I have friends who write 500 words a day, or 1,000 words a day, and that’s all they do. But they’re very good about doing it every day. My mind and heart have to be really engaged to write, I’m more of a project person. I’m most productive when I gather information, then sit down and be very intentional to pull that story together.
Are you very organized, so do you have a strict storyline laid out or…
Nooo. I’m what they call a “pantser”. I write by the seat of my pants. I have a general idea of where my characters begin, and I have a solid idea of who they are, their backstory, that kind of thing. And then I know the crucks of the novel, and where I want them to end up but to me my books play like movies in my mind, so I’m typing as fast as I can to convey the story.
Yeah, in Remnants, I read your Remnants trilogy and it was like a movie playing in my head, you portrayed that well!
Oh, that’s awesome! I love to hear that.
How did you get the idea for Remnants? Cause it’s kind of different from some of your other novels, it’s kind of similar to your River of Time series, but it’s more out there than that.
I’m always writing something different which my publishers hate, haha. It’s hard to “brand” me, essentially, because I’m always writing something different. River of Time Series is time travel, Romance, YA. Remnants is dystopian YA. I wanted to write a dystopian series that had a very solid sense of hope. I had read a few dystopians, and I disliked that idea that kids might be thinking of earth as a hopeless place and that there would be no purpose for pushing through challenges of difficulty and strife. Basically Hunger Games with hope. That’s what made me think about writing Remnants.
Your Remnants and Krista McGee’s Anomaly trilogy really inspired me to write. I have so many ideas, and I love imagining dystopian worlds. Now I’m writing all of my ideas down, to create a story with them.
It’s great, it’ll be interesting to see. when you have the time, write all those ideas down on a bulletin board and see how they might be leaning towards one comprehensive story.
Hmm. That’s a good idea, thanks!
How do you generally come up with the names for your characters? I just love the names!
On Remnants, I think that they are all warrior names. I just looked online and found all the cool and exotic names that could exist in a futuristic society. They’re all warriors on the warfront, all the names basically mean warrior, and I loved that! Most of the time I go to a baby name book, and alot of the time, my books are set in different countries, and I usually go to those countries and find out what those names mean. If I like the sound of them, can I hear them in my head, will my readers figure them out, then that’s how i choose them.
I’ve been looking for names, I go to the baby name websites or books. Sometimes I even see a brand name. For example, I was looking in the fridge the other day, and there was an olive container. The company name was Elara.
Yeah, I’m thinking, thats a nice name!
It is a nice name.
It shouldn’t be on an olive box!
That’s odd isn’t it, yeah.
Thank you girls for listening to part 1 of our Lisa Bergren interview. Make sure you listen to our part 2 which is coming next week, and I’ll see you girls later, bye!