Lisa T. Bergren is the author of more than 35 books in many genres—children’s picture books, devotionals, women’s nonfiction, fiction of all flavors—that have sold far more than she ever would have imagined. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Tim, and their three children, as well as a dog who stares at her until Lisa takes her for a walk. For more on Lisa, check out her website www.LisaTawnBergren.com, or find her on Facebook as “Lisa Tawn Bergren” and/or “River of Time Series.”
Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?
I thought I’d be a teacher or a nurse as a child. But my nose was always in a book. And English/writing was really the only subject I tried my best in. Everything else? B’s sufficed.
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
About 12-18 months. But it was a different time and a far more open market than it is now. Christian fiction was just beginning to come into its own.
Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?
Read Writer’s Digest. Excellent training material for writers in any genre.
Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
Most people are morning people or night owls. I’m a middle of the day person. That’s when I’m most awake!
Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?
Sure. I have another kid’s book I’m supposed to deliver to HarperCollins, but eight different proposals have been given the thumbs-down. Sigh. And publishers pass up my proposals frequently; I’ve just been blessed that they all haven’t said no at once, so I can shrug it off. In this tough publishing environment, however, I get nervous.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
Waterfall is a time-travel YA romance about two sisters who go from contemporary times to medieval Italy. And then fall in love. Big time. And then they’re in the Great Quandary: What do you do when your (literal) knight in shining armor lives in a different time? I wanted to write a great love story, but with lots of action—those tales always come easily for me. I loved, loved, loved writing Waterfall, and the other two in the series, Cascade and Torrent. Did you hear me say loved? Seriously. Loved it. I hope that comes through when readers pick it up.
If you could only share one line from Waterfall, which one would you choose and why?
“I hope you’re the good guys.” It’s that tripping point when Gabi finally recognizes she’s really, really far from home and now dependent on others.
Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in Waterfall that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?
A lot of quotes the girls remember from their dad are things that resonate with me. “No way through, but through.” “It is what it is.” Through their memories of their dad, they find wisdom that gets them through the moment. They denote acceptance of hard facts and decisions to forge ahead, one step at a time.
Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?
Cosmo Paratore is Marcello Forelli’s rival, and they are frequently in battle, because they represent the border line between two enemy provinces in Italy, and both are young lords of their respective castles. Because my book is in first person POV (Gabi’s), we don’t really see him more than as the arch-enemy who threatens everything she loves. But I see that he’s fighting for his land and his “rights” just as clearly as Marcello is. He’s just on the other side.
Lady Romana Rossi is also an antagonist, since she has been long-promised as Marcello’s bride. And if you’re in love with Marcello, then she represents a serious obstacle. But Gabi tends to feel for Romana—she recognizes that she’s caught between familial and social responsibilities and expectations—and therefore feels some sympathy for her.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?
Fortunately I had done a ton of research for this era and this region for a previous series called The Gifted (The Begotten, The Betrayed, The Blessed). There is one couple anyone writing medieval needs to study—Joseph and France Gies—they’ve written a number of very accessible books on life in medieval society. A full bibliography appears in the back of Waterfall, which might be helpful to other writers wanting to concentrate on the medieval period.
And I love Italy so of course I HAD to go with my husband to make sure I had details—sights, sounds, smells—ready to go into the books. We had a fabulous week in Tuscany last year. It was great for us as a couple to get away, as well as for the books. I got a lot of research done that ended up in the series—stuff that would be hard to discover in just researching/reading.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
The rewrite (third draft) of Torrent (book 3 in River of Time Series) and then diving into research for my next series—books about a group of young people on the Grand Tour of Europe.
The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?
Study what it takes. Study the craft. Then invest the time and energy to get better at it. Critique groups, writers’ conferences, subscription to Writer’s Digest you actually read. It’s like anything…if you want it, really want it, you have to work for it. And I mean work. It’s way more challenging than when I started. Not impossible.
What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?
I’m pretty brave, so that’s hard to answer. Bring it on, is what I’m thinking. I’ve got Nordic blood in my veins. That’s why I write heroines the way I do. They are feminine and clearly women—but they’re not waiting on their heroes to save them. They wade into the fight beside them.
Lisa is giving away a copy of her book, Waterfall. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!