Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meet Task Force Gaea author David Berger!


Hello again my Lovelies! 
Today, I have a special treat for you all. 
YA Fantasy author David Berger is here!

MTKW: Hi David and welcome to My Twisted & Kinky World! It’s wonderful to have you here!
David: Hey Brenda! Thanks for having me. And there’s nothing wrong with a little kink, right?
MTKW: Not at all!!

Now, for my readers who may not know, I met David a few years ago. We frequent a lot of the same conventions here in Florida even though we write vastly different books!  I wanted to introduce David to the rest of you because even though our genres are different, I know some of you will enjoy what he writes! So, let’s get started!!

Growing up, who was your favorite author? 
Interestingly enough, I didn't have a favorite author, but rather a favorite genre: science fiction/fantasy. Like most geeks, I was a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, David Eddings, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Isaac Asimov.
MTKW: Oh, I love David & Leigh Eddings. They live here in Florida too!  

What writer gives you the most inspiration and/or which one do you aspire to be like?
I think I would have to say Neil Gaiman. Not only does he write stories that encompass the genre I love so much, but also his writing style just has that ability to capture my attention and keep me reading. I find myself caught up in novels like American Gods or Anansi Boys, and more recently, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, because he infuses his stories with mythology, either stated or implied, and that’s the genre I write. There’s a magic I find in his work that I would hope to put into mine. 

How did you figure out you wanted to be an author? 
I've known I wanted to write stories ever since I was a kid, but it wasn't until I was almost 40 when I was getting pressure from my family to publish the novel they kept hearing about. I hadn't really thought about it, since I wasn't done writing it, but I made the decision to finish the manuscript. A friend of mine published his novel and, when I asked how he got it published, he told me he had gone through CreateSpace, a print-on-demand service through Amazon. It was then when I realized that my novel could be available for others. I had thought about traditional publishing, but by the time I was ready to do this (at 45), I didn't think I wanted to endure the slew of rejection letters I’d receive from agents and publishers. I never really wanted to make money as a writer; I just wanted to get my stories out into the world for people to enjoy. 
MTKW: Getting the stories out is the best reason to become an author. If a writer is hoping to get rich, it likely isn't going to happen. The phrase 'don't quit your day job' really applies to those of us who write.

What was the first piece you ever wrote? 
The first one I remember writing (since I am sure I wrote before this) was a Smurf story that my sister and I worked on. I was probably ten or eleven at the time. I have a few short pieces from junior high and high school in my files, but the one I credit for where I am now was a short story called “The Olympus Corps.” which became the novel series I’m writing now. 
MTKW: Oh, I really love that name!

How much of what you write is based on personal experience? 
Aside from human nature and interpersonal relationships, not much since my characters live in the mythic fantasy world. I don’t really incorporate myself into my characters, so my main character isn’t anything like me. 

Do you have any rituals involving your writing?  Before/during/after? 
Well, not consistently. As a teacher, I have to squeeze time to write when I can, so I can’t devote the same time every day to it. When I do plan a writing session, I tend to light a candle nearby. I know some writers like to wear certain clothing or eat certain foods or even set a specific time of day, but my schedule just doesn’t allow for it. When I’m ready to write, I just set out to do it.
MTKW: I am that way somewhat but I don't write everyday. I don't think my liver could handle it! *grin*

What is your writing process? 
With book #1, Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance, I was a sequential plotter mixed with a little “pantser”. That seemed to work best for that novel. With Memory’s Curse, book #2 in the series, I wrote scenes as they came to me, arranging them as necessary. With book #3, The Liar’s Prophecy, I’m going back to plotting, but I do find my outline becomes more of a springboard for things I hadn’t thought about earlier. With all three books, I did extensive amounts of research into mythology as well as locations all over the world. If I’m going to set a scene in Indianapolis or Litokhoro, Greece, I want street names and visuals. 

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?  And how have you overcome it? 
Editing while I wrote was my kryptonite in book #1. That’s probably why it took me about 25 years to finish and publish it. Now, the hardest part is finding time to write and also promoting my work. I don’t think you ever truly overcome the time issue; it’s just something you deal with. With promoting, I’m learning how to be better at it all the time. 

Are you able to write full time?  Is that your ambition or something you want to keep on the side? 
I’m a teacher, and that’s my life’s passion. I’ll do it until they have to drag my cold, dead body from my classroom. But, writing is also a passion now. If I didn’t have teaching, I might consider writing full time, but I’m not sure I’m good enough to make a living off it. I’ll write until I can’t do it anymore. It’ll never be a side thing, but rather something more parallel with my teaching. The more I write, the better I am at teaching it, I think. Process is something young writers don’t fully grasp, but when they see their teacher also battles the same issues, they feel better that it’s not just something they do by themselves. 

Do you as an author concentrate on one genre?  Or do you feel like you should try to find your voice among the genres
I focus on mythic fantasy, but I have written two short stories that were in an LGBTQ anthology, NewYears to Christmas: 15 Queer Holiday Tales, and were about Aaron and Jason, two gay Jewish men who meet and fall in love. When I have more time to think about them, I might write a novel, and it’ll be real world, not fantasy. Beyond that, I don’t want to write other genres since I don’t think I could put my passion into them as much. 

Have you ever based a character on a friend or enemy? 
Actually, no, I haven’t. Book #3 might change that, but I’m still working out the plot for it. It’s hard to choose which people to include without upsetting others, so if I do it, I’d only tell those people. 

If you had to name one character you have written that was the most like you, which character in which book would that be? 
Great question! But, there isn’t any. I don’t have any character that’s especially like me. I do have someone who’s a teacher, but that’s about it. I’m not the model for people because I want to create people from scratch. Besides, if I based a character on me, and people started to like him, I’d have a hard time killing him off. 

How do you feel when you finish a book? 
When I finish writing a book (including all the editing), I feel a sense of completion, but it’s not until I hold the published work in my hand, cover and all, that I get emotional. With Finding Balance, when I held the first copy in my hand, I cried. After all, it was the closest I could feel to giving birth after carrying my “baby” for 25 years. With Memory’s Curse, I just felt proud, since I had the makings of a series. 

How long of a break do you take between books? 
Not long at all. I was writing book #2 in my head as I was finishing book #1. The same with book #3—I knew plot ideas before I’d finished book #2. A long break would squelch my desire, and I don’t want to have another 25 year gap on my hands. 

How do you react to a bad review of your work? 
Some people like what I write, but occasionally some don’t. You can’t please everyone. With reviews that are unfavorable, I just accept them and move forward. Sometimes, the reviewer has some really good constructive criticism, so I take that into consideration when I write. 

Have you ever been tempted to give up writing? 
Not at all. Even if I stopped publishing, I’d still write. It’s a part of who I am like my arm or my eyes. 

What is the best thing about being a writer? 
Being about to be creative in any way I want. I have no limits. With fantasy, I can take an idea from mythology and make it my own. That’s what keeps me doing it. 

What kind of travel do you do concerning your books? 
None, actually, as far as research. I’d love to get over to Greece to see the ruins of temples or the landscape that I describe, but it’s a bit expensive. I do travel to conventions to promote my work, however. I've done mostly Florida conventions, but I do one in L.A. called Bent-Con which focuses primarily on LGBTQ creators, writers, and artists. 

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time? 
Reading, running, at the gym, mostly. The rest of my time is grading papers or writing lesson plans. 

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? 
Hmm. Well, I've appeared in a Wonder Woman comic on two occasions. One was in a museum scene where my face appeared in a portrait on the wall. The other was an idea I had suggested to Gail Simone, the then-writer of the book, and it showed up in her last issue. It was a surprise to me until I read it in the book.
MTKW: That is very cool! Not many people  become immortalized in a comic! 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? 

Being a gay writer, I thought it important to include some gay characters who are normal, everyday guys in love. So many times, writers marginalize gay characters by killing them off, turning them into villains, or making them into campy personalities. In Memory’s Curse, the main hero, Dan, is gay, and he has a boyfriend, Ari, who plays a significant role. It’s not a gay novel, but it just so happens to have gay characters, just like the world around us just so happens to have a diverse population. There’s no sex in the book, though. I’ll leave that for you to write!
MTKW: *grin* Yes, I do enjoy writing about my boys in interesting positions! 

Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 
Readers can find out more about me and the books at my website,, as well as on Amazon.
MTKW: I also know you have a page for the series and on Facebook. Oh, and we can't forget Goodreads and Twitter!

MTKW: Thanks again for stopping by David. It was a pleasure having you!
David: And, thank you, Brenda! This was so much fun. I look forward to seeing you again.
MTKW: Yes it was and ditto on seeing you sometime soon! 

Well, that is all for today my sweets! I hope you enjoyed getting to know David and will check out his novels. Don't let the YA keep you adult readers away. If you love Fantasy, then you are sure to enjoy Task Force Gaea!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MegaCon Saturday Mayhem

Hello again my twisted lovelies!
As promised, the story of my MegaCon weekend continues with Saturday Mayhem!

So, as many of you know, I put out flavored condoms on my table when I go to conventions. It is a great marketing tool ("Come, touch, fondle, *waving at books* Free flavored condom?") and stops people in their tracks all the time. Plus, if I am going to write erotic romance, the least, the very least, I can do is promote safe sex. I am sure can already figure out where this is going...
David & I are sitting at our table and I am trying to lure the masses to stop and check out my books. These three kids, well guys really... in their late teens... stop when they hear my condom speal. Of course, the look on their faces is funny because the last thing I am sure they ever expected to see at MegaCon was a bunch of flavored condoms! The encounter went something like this:

Me: Go ahead, take one. They are free.
Guy #1: *peering into the box curiously* Are they really flavored?
Me: *grinning* Yep. Strawberry, banana, or vanilla.
Guy #1: *looks at guy #2 and #3 then back at the condoms before picking up a banana* Does it really taste like Banana?
Me: Yeah
Guy #1: *looking serious* Can I try it?
*Guys #2 and #3 eyes grow wide*
Me: Sure, if you want. (By this point David and I are trying not to laugh at the looks on these guys' faces.)
Guy #1: *rips open the condom*
Me: *to his friends* You should record this *snicker*

They just look at me then their friend as if we have both lost our minds. All I can do is laugh. The guy pulls the condom from the wrapper and is holding it between his fingers like he is trying not to touch it at all. I honestly got the impression he had never touched a condom before. So, he sticks his tongue out and scrunches his eyes closed tight and touches the condom to his tongue. The face he made was priceless. 

Guy #1: What do I do with it now?
Me: Well, you can either use it or give it to me to throw away. *I hold out my hand for the condom and the wrapper.*
Guy #1 hands me both and he and his friends move away. I couldn't hear what they said but the whole encounter was beyond amusing!

I am going to fast forward us to dinner at Denny's after the convention on Saturday. David and I had dinner with two of his former students who were at the convention. It's about 8:30 PM (keep this is mind!) and we are all still giddy-high from being at MegaCon all day. We tell the waitress separate checks and place our order. I am drinking coffee because my daily intake for the past two days was dangerously low. Now, I don't know if our waitress was just ditsy or if she was purposely fucking with us but the whole encounter felt like it should have happened at 4 AM instead of 8:30 PM. Several times, we would ask for something and the waitress would forget or bring something else entirely. For example:

Waitress: Do you need more creamer for your coffee?
Me: Yes, please.
Waitress: *hands me three splenda and walks away*
Me: *I look at the splenda and then at everyone else* Is it 3 AM and I am drunk or is she fucking with me? Didn't she ask if I wanted creamer?

Now, like I said, we were all riding the con high so this seemed ridiculously funny. The waitress came back two more times without the creamer before I had to remind her she was supposed to be bringing it to me. I half expected her to hand me more splenda! So, the check comes... just one check... and after arguing with Brandon about paying for dinner, I asked the waitress to bring my check separately. She does. We pay and she brings us our change but before she turns away, she says: "Have a good morning!"

Me: *Again, I look at everyone* She is definitely fucking with me!

Everyone laughed and agreed. The entire meal had the makings for a 4 AM Denny's run after the bar closed just without the alcohol and buzz!

Leap forward again... David and I return to our hotel. I decide that after the crazy ordeal at Denny's that I deserve a beer to unwind so I leave David to his own devices in the room and head down to the hotel bar. Remember, this is the same hotel that didn't have light bulbs in our room so when I say 'bar' I am using the term loosely. Yes, there was a pool table, a bar, and a few stools. Apparently, it was Karaoke night too. Now, many of you know, I do Karaoke (well at least go to Karaoke...I only 'do' Karaoke when I am too drunk to know any better!) so this was not really a big deal for me. But not only was it Karaoke in the hotel bar (likely the only bar around for miles!) but it was Country Karaoke. This is important because without this little tidbit of knowledge, what I tell you next won't be nearly as funny.

Since there was no smoking in the bar, I sat outside at a plastic table. I am minding my own business, smoking, drinking my second beer, and playing catch up on Facebook, when the only guy who has been singing since I arrived goes from Digging Up Bones by Randy Travis to V.I.C.'s Wobble Baby . Now, if you have never heard Wobble before... STOP RIGHT NOW and go watch the video. I'll wait.....

Okay, now that you are back... think about what you just watched and heard. Ok, now, think about that being done at karaoke with a country twang! Needless to say, my head whipped up and around because I needed my eyes to verify what my ears were hearing! Yep, my ears weren't deceiving me. Just when I thought things could not get any funnier, they did. There were two extremely hefty and energetic girls and another one who was twig thin, moving to the very small open space. Yes, they were wobbling. I am not sure which hurt more, my eyes or ears but  it was like watching a train wreck. I could not look away. 

So, my MegaCon Saturday ended with a very bizarre experience that I hope to never repeat. On that note, here is another give-a-way for stopping by. Until next time, Enjoy!