Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Interview with Author Lisa T. Bergren

Here's an excerpt of a recent interview with Lisa T. Bergren, author of Sing: A Novel of Colorado.

Q. Is that why you were so tough on these characters in this book?

A. I think it’s easy to be a Christian when things are good. You show what your faith is made of—and possibly discover new depths—when you encounter the bad. Or you walk away. I was glad to see these three getting closer to God, but Nic obviously has a ways to go.

Q. You talk about the characters as if they have minds of their own.

A. [Laughing.] They do! That’s the fun of fiction. I have one idea, but then a certain spin occurs and casts them in a different direction, and I discover new things with them as if I’m riding along, observing. I always start with a rough outline, knowing some key things that will happen, and the ending I’d like to see, but I leave it to the characters to take it from there. When I’m invested in the scene, feeling it as if I’m in their skin, sensing their emotions and mind-set, the plot often turns.

Q. Why the title?

A. We often sing contemporary songs at church that make me think—phrases like “I will sing in the troubled times” and “praise You in the storm”—a pretty big challenge for most people. But learning how to do that makes the good, easy times even sweeter, and the rough times somehow bearable. It’s so important that we all find that deep assurance that God is with us, regardless of what is happening in our lives, good or bad. And when we do, the only proper response is to sing praises in His name. There’s a reason that heaven will be full of singing. They already understand what we’re still trying to get, down here.

Q. We’re in 1880s Colorado. It surprised me when we got to the conquistador gold—what inspired that?

A. The third novel I ever wrote was a romance called Treasure, in which the heroine was seeking Spanish gold as a nautical archaeologist. I think if I’d had half the chance, I would’ve loved the opportunity to be a treasure hunter myself. Indiana Jones and all that, you know. Childhood fantasies. So I always note treasure-ish things I come across, and I read about an actual legend of lost conquistador explorers, who left behind a bounty of gold when they got separated from the rest of their troops in the Sangre de Cristos. Reportedly, two lost hikers came across the cave in a snowstorm twenty years ago, marked it when the storm ended, intending to come back, but could never find it again. They spent years of weekends searching for that cave. Isn’t that fantastic novel fodder? Love stuff like that.

Q. What can we expect in Claim, the third book in this series?

A. Resolution is always nice, though I don’t like things tied up in perfect little bows. Life isn’t like that. But I’m striving to leave my readers satisfied and hopeful, right along with the St. Clairs. I think love is the key for all three. That’s all I’m telling ya. You’ll have to read the big conclusion for yourself.

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