Welcome back to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewer’s interview with Christina Bergling.
In tonight’s portion of the interview, Christina talks about her new book, The Waning, some more general questions and then finally takes on The Ten Confessions.
Tomorrow night I will be publishing my review of The Waning so please remember to come back for that.
As it’s Sunday, grab a glass of wine and a nice plate of Sunday roast and……enjoy!!
COAR - Moving on to “The Waning” – where did the idea come from for this one?
CB - The Waning was another instance where the idea just attacked me. I just started hearing the voice of the narrator in my head. I had some friends who were active in the BDSM community, and we were discussing the dynamics of their lifestyle a lot at the time. The psychological dynamic of submission fascinated me, but I didn’t want to write a 50 Shades of Grey flavored knock off.
I wanted to strip out the sex and examine the concept in a more extreme situation.
I also always wanted to try a blended narrative, both first and second person at the same time. The Master dynamic seemed like the perfect opportunity. Once the idea materialized in my head, the words just flowed.
The Waning started as a 15 page short entitled “Ode to Master,” in which it is basically a flash of the narrator in captivity with little to no backstory. After Savages was accepted for publication, I decided to push myself and develop the story into a full length novella.
COAR - You have written this in a very unique, “interactive” way that gives the reader no choice but to feel involved in the story. Was this intentional from the outset or just how it flowed?
CB - Both. Again, I was always after this blended point of view, yet after that, it just flowed that way; it just felt right that way. And the interaction with the audience is what I want. I want them down in the cage with the narrator; I want them to feel guilty as if they are the captor. I want them sucked into the story.
COAR - As with Savages, The Waning also delves into the human psyche – how stress and difficult situations affect the mind and the strengths / weaknesses of people. Why does this fascinate you so much?
CB - I do have a bit of a psychological fixation. I think it comes from spending so much time delving into and analyzing my own mind. Learning to decode and understand myself evolved into doing the same with others, either real people or those manifested from my head.
I think stress/danger/adversity are great equalizers. They affect everyone, and they also reveal everyone’s true nature. They make us equal because no one can hide from them and because they allow no one to hide what they are. I like to see what people are when they aren’t pretending to be something else.
COAR - I can only imagine that you had to put yourself in a dark place to be able to write this the way you did. How did you manage to write this and stay sane?
CB - My mother asked me the same thing. She has no intention of reading The Waning because she said she doesn’t like to picture me in such a dark place to be able to write it. On the contrary, The Waning was one of the more easy things for me to write in that regard. This story has absolutely zero personal experience and does not have any fraction of me as character inspiration. This one, for once, is entirely imagination, and that gave me some protective detachment.
When I was writing Beatrix’s psychological decline, I found myself approaching it very clinically. I would weigh the effects of her experiences with her captor and evaluate how that might change her behaviour, what thoughts and emotions it might draw up in her.
The omniscient detachment with writing The Waning was a new experience (and probably the only reason I survived it). When writing things like Savages, there were certain aspects or scenes that just lingered and haunted me after. I won’t go into spoilers, but I am sure you have an idea which I mean.
COAR - I don’t want to give anything away but there are possibilities for The Waning to be continued. Any plans for that?
CB - I have always had a particular affinity for flash fiction, showing the reader just a glimpse then snatching it away. This tactic seems to have snuck into my full length writing. I like to leave the situation open; I like to give the reader the opportunity to use a little imagination on the ending. This approach does leave the story open for continuation though.
Presently, I have no plans to extend The Waning. To me, the ending is perfect. Yet I would not put it out of the realm of possibility.
COAR - Please also tell me Savages will be expanded on?
CB - I have had many, MANY requests for a sequel to Savages. Or a prequel. My husband and one of our close friends have requested a prequel trilogy on just the character of Uriah.
I could, very easily and happily, curl up with those characters again. That story completely infected me, and I lived inside it the entire time I was writing it. Yet, I still have the desire to leave that ending floating there for the reader.
If inspiration starts writing a sequel, it will happen, but I won’t be trying to force one out.
Credit: Phil Beachler
COAR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
CB - R.L. Stine and Mary Higgins Clark in my childhood. Stephen King for the duration of my reading life. Eliot Perlman, Chuck Palahnuik, Augusten Burroughs back when I had the spare time to read. Now I enjoy the child-friendly zombie books I read to my daughter.
I have not been able to get sucked into any of the pop fiction franchises lately. Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and so on. I just can’t do it. Plus if I am going to sacrifice precious minutes that I don’t really have, it better swallow me whole in the first sentence.
COAR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
CB - I have the typical author dreams of best-selling books and movie adaptations, but ultimately, I just want to be read. I want my books to keep getting published and keep selling. Not because I need or want the money (I have a lucrative day job) but because I want my works out there and inside people’s heads.
My wish would be to publish a book every couple years to moderate to great success until I fall over and die.
COAR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
CB - My family and I like to travel a lot, probably more than our budget really allows.
We go camping during the summer. I run, avidly, and do a lot of races. I am painfully slow, but that is neither here nor there. We have a monthly movie night with friends where two films face off to be crowned best of the worst. I have a monthly dinner with friends were we cook cuisine from another part of the world. I watch a ridiculous amount of horror movies (and write reviews about them). Then there’s preschool, ballet lessons, swim lessons, and playdates with the kids.
My life philosophy is to not waste a single, solitary second (because we are guaranteed none of them), so if I’m not writing, I am out doing something!
COAR - What’s coming in the future from Christina Bergling?
CB - The third book is what is coming next, once I get five minutes to put some words in it. Then hopefully many books after that. In a perfect world, I will sell enough books to quit my day job and really devote myself to the craft. Then things could get really interesting.
Credit: Phil Beachler
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
At this fledgling point in my career, everyone. From the established best-sellers to the random person who self-published. I have to somehow stand out as a new writer from everyone out there.
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
I am sure I have encountered many, but I have sufficiently scrubbed them out of my brain to not be able to remember.
EDIT: After not allowing this as an answer (due to being evil and wanting some proper dirt) Christina gave me this answer:
I have never finished a full book, but I will say the Twilight series. The author castrated vampires by making them emos who sparkle and has a twit for a protagonist.
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
All the Iraq things in Savages are based off of not my own experiences but experiences relayed to me or that I read in reports while I was in Iraq. I have also written some non-fiction, like How to Kill Yourself Slowly, that is actually ripped right from my life. On the whole, however, no. I tend to put characters like me or with inspirations from people I know into horrific circumstances.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
Savages was actually spawned from my time in Iraq and a The Walking Dead season marathon. The Walking Dead’s focus on the savagery in the survivors and the way surviving changes them fascinates me and inspired me to write a story that dealt with similar concepts. That is about as close as I have come to stealing.
I once had a great idea to write a story about a woman who discovers her husband is a serial killer. The next day, I realized Stephen King had already done it, so I had to scrap the idea.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
I was a mess in my adolescence. I coped using alcohol and the like. As a result, I did a lot of stupid things. I learned a great deal from this period in my life, but I am not proud of the price I paid to get there.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
I am most proud of my children. Every time they are better than me, I know I am doing something right as their mother.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
I can be selfish and demanding.
9 What is your biggest fear?
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
That I haven’t been to confession since I was 18 and stopped attending Catholic Church.
Edit: Again after the judges decided this was not a true confession, we managed to squeeze this out of Christina.
I love my children, madly. They are the best thing I have ever done. However, sometimes, they are also the worst. They drive me closer to insanity than I would have ever thought possible. There are instances when I am defeated, drained, exhausted, overstimulated, and I have “I don’t want to be a Mom anymore” moments.
We have all been there!
That concludes the interview with Christina. I would just like to personally thank Christina for giving up some of her valuable time to take part in this.
I did pester her quite a lot with questions, questions and more questions and really appreciate her input to make this possible.
Please come back tomorrow night when I will publish my review of Christina’s newest book The Waning. Also, as an added bonus, I will be posting my review of Christina's first book Savages. on Tuesday night.