pat bertram

Today’s interview is with an author who has a lifetime of experience and some really great books too. Pat Bertram is an author with Second Wind Publishing, whose books include the thriller novels More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, as well as the non-fiction book Grief: The Great Yearning, a book about dealing with grief based on personal experiences. Pat also is an administrator and active participant in a Facebook group for suspense and thriller writers, and has two blogs, one of which she writes posts for at least once a day.

I was lucky to have a chance to ask Pat, whom I consider a friend, some questions on her life, her writing process, and what she’s up to these days.

How did you get into writing in the first place?

When I was in my mid twenties, I set out to be a writer. I quit my job, gathered up paper and pens, and sat down at the kitchen table to write. I thought writing was a type of automatic writing, that I just needed to put pen to paper and words would come. Didn’t happen. When I tried to force words on the page, I discovered I had no talent for writing, so when real life got in the way, I let go of my desire to write and turned my mind to other things. About fifteen years ago, I had some predicaments I wanted to work through, so I decided, talent or no, that I would write the story, which I did. And it was terrible! During the subsequent years, I have learned how to write, to pace a story, to write sparse but picturesque prose, but most of all, I have learned how to rewrite and edit.

How would you characterize the stories you write?

The unifying theme in all of my books is the perennial question: Who are we? More Deaths Than One suggests we are our memories. A Spark of Heavenly Fire suggests we are the sum total of our experiences and choices. Daughter Am I suggests we are our heritage. Light Bringer suggests we are  . . . ? So, perhaps my genre is “identity quest,” though I can’t see that as ever being a big draw. My only hope is to build an audience for “Pat Bertram books.”

What is your writing process?

I have no real process. When I do write, it’s usually late at night because all is quiet. I don’t set a daily goal — the words come hard for me, so I’m grateful for whatever words I manage to get on paper. Oddly, considering this is the electronic age, I still prefer to write longhand, though I am gradually doing more writing on the computer. As for the story, I know the main characters, I know the beginning of the story, I know the end of the story, and I know how I want the characters to develop, but I don’t flesh out the individual scenes until I start writing them.

You blog at least once a day, and you often talk about your personal life, both the good and the bad. What gives you the courage to share such information with your readers?

Before my life mate/soul mate died, I wrote innocuous — and fairly impersonal — posts about the books I read, the stories I was writing, general thoughts I had. After he died, I was shocked both by the true scope of grief and people’s ignorance of the process, so I made it my mission to tell the truth of what I was going through to help dispel the myth that after a couple of months, life goes on as it did before. I gained so much by opening up, that I have continued to be open as other traumas enter my life, such as my efforts to cope with both my aging father and my dysfunctional brother.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes. When the members of my dancing class found out I was a writer, they suggested I write a book about them. It’s been fun —  all the characters have real life counterparts, so it has become something of a group project.

What is some advice you would give to potential writers?

Writing is not always about writing. Some authors can sit down and let the words flow and lo! There is a story! Other authors have to think about what they’re doing. So ask yourself, what story do you want to write? Why? What do your characters want? Why? How are they going to get what they want? Who is going to stop them getting what they want?

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would they be?

Three blank notebooks. And pencils, of course.

 

If you’d like to find out more about Pat, you can find her at her personal blog Bertram’s Blog and on Pat Bertram Introduces, where she interviews authors, publishers, and even book characters, as well as on her Facebook page.

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Comments
  1. Pat Bertram says:

    Thank you, Rami. It’s always good to talk to a friend!

  2. In addition to paper and pencils on that desert island, I’d want several of my favorite books like maybe Prince of Tides, The Great Gatsby and More Deaths Than One. Oh, and a well-stocked fridge.

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