Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview with Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram and I have a lot in common when it comes to our love for character and story driven books. What examples could you list as your favorites?

Staccato by Deborah Ledford, The Medicine People by Lazarus Barnhill, Lacey Took a Holiday by Lazarus Barnhill, Steel Waters by Ken Coffman, Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire by Malcolm R. Campbell, Heart of Hythea by Suzanne Francis. They are all different genres, but all have a few things in common—they are exceptionally well-written, a bit out of the ordinary (by that I mean they are not clones of books already on the market), have great characters I enjoyed spending time with. And the stories moved me.

What do you mean by "novels that can't easily be slotted into a genre"?

All of my novels have elements of intrigue, adventure, mystery, suspense, romance, history, and some have a touch of science fiction. A Spark of Heavenly Fire, for example, is the story of people who become extraordinary during a time of horror -- a bioengineered disease is decimating the population of Colorado, and the entire state is quarantined. One character is obsessed with finding out who created the disease, one couple tries to escape, one woman does what she can to help the survivors. And a thread of romance connects all the stories. All these different stories entwined into one makes it difficult to settle on a single genre. A Spark of Heavenly Fire is being sold as mystery/crime, but it could just as easily be mainstream or a thriller.

What are your favorite genres?

I like to read novels that have it all -- mystery, adventure, romance, a touch of strangeness, a bit of truth -- but since I can’t find that sort of novel very often, I settle for just about anything. Non-fiction, genre fiction, literary fiction, whatever is at hand.

Any favorite blogs you are following?

I follow the Second Wind Publishing Blog, Joylene Nowell Butler’s Blog, Malcolm Campbell’s Sun Singer’s Travels and about a dozen others.

What do you like to see covered in a blog?

Right now, I pay particular attention to blogs that focus on book promotion because that is my current concern. I also enjoy reading about how people write and how they overcome the problems they encounter.

Do you think you gain sales for your books through blogging?

I know I’ve made a few sales because of blogging, but I don’t think they are a particularly good sales tool. I do think blogs are wonderful for connecting with readers once readers have discovered you, they can be a great source for support and suggestions, and they are a way of meeting people who like the same things you do. Mostly though, I just enjoy blogging.

Tell us about your new book, "Daughter Am I."

Daughter Am I is a young woman/old gangster coming-of-age novel.
When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents-grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born-she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians-former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

What similarities if any between your other books and this one?

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 suggests we are the sum total of our experiences and choices. Daughter Am I suggests we are our heritage.

Do you sell or give away your new book as an eBook?

My books are all available for sale as ebooks, and the first 30% of each is also available free on Smashwords.

Where do you think the e-books are going in the future of book sales?

E-books are only 1.5% of the total book market, but e-book sales grew 125% overall in 2008. Interestingly, e-book sales grew 183% among seniors aged 65+ and 174% among seniors aged 55-65. It does seem as if they will be making an impact on readers of all ages.

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

25% of the total production of books printed by the major publishing companies are pulped, which is an incredible waste, so I think more books will be digitally printed as needed. It makes sense financially, especially if the cost of production goes down. Ultimately, e-books will become the preferred format for "disposable" books from bestselling authors such as James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks, and Harlequin titles--books readers will only read once.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy for selling books?

Ask me that in a year! I haven’t sold a statistically significant number of books, so it’s impossible for me to draw any sort of conclusion about effective marketing strategies. I make use of all the usual online marketing strategies -- I blog, Twitter, have a presence on Facebook, participate in discussions -- but I don’t know what, if anything, is effective.

If you could give one tip for aspiring authors, what would that be?

Keep in mind that a book begins with a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written -- one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book. After that, who knows, you might even reach the pinnacle and become a published author. All because you set your goal to write one word.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I have a website -- -- where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my books, and my events on a daily basis is by way of Bertram’s Blog.
All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, and Smashwords.

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.


Sun Singer said...

Aw shucks, Pat, thanks for saying nice things about me.


Deborah J said...

This is one of the more inspiring and interesting interviews I have encountered. Thank you Pat for giving us your insights. And best of luck with the release of your newest DAUGHTER AM I.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

A day late, but I'm here, Pat! All posted at Win a Book.

Sheila Deeth said...

This was really interesting. Sort of discouraging too, except you're always so upbeat about it all. Working on putting those words down on the page to complete my next effort.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm, I'm afraid I don't say enough good things about you. I enjoy our conversations wherever in the blogosphere we happen to land, and you always say something inspiring or thought provoking. Thank you.

Deborah, Inspiring? It seems more like perspiring, but I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.

Susan, a day here and there doesn't make any difference. Thank you for the support of my blog tour.

Sheila, Upbeat? Me? No one has ever called me upbeat before. Oddly enough, I do think that eventually things will come together and all my efforts will work out. Until then, just think of all the friends I have made! It really does keep the journey interesting.