I met Derek Bergman at the fiction writers conference weekend at the New York Writers Workshop (a great, informative resource to check out – www.newyorkwritersworkshop.com) We tested his book (then titled Lost and Found) six months ago. Then he came back to BookHive, incorporated some of the changes from the testing, renamed it Edge of Innocence, and the results the second time were much improved. So much so, he is our Author-of-the-Month. Below is his interview on his writing process & inspiration.
Jennifer Bowen: What’s one of your favorite books and why?
Derek Bergman: It’s impossible to pick just one so I’ll give you three, in no particular order. Homicide, by David Simon is a great, gritty read that was the basis for HBO’s series The Wire. Simon does a great job of putting you into the middle of the action. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts is another favorite of mine because it blends an exciting story with strong philosophical undercurrents. Thirdly, The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg is just a fantastic read, albeit very heavy.
JB: How did you come about writing this book? Can you tell us about it?
DB: This is an interesting question because as I think back on it now, I don’t really recall a specific time when I crafted the story in my mind. However, I always wanted to write a book but never actually put pen to paper for one reason or another. One day I basically decided to not make excuses and simply just do it. Even if it was terrible, I wanted to be able to say I started and completed a novel. Most readers have an aspiration to write a novel, but few actually follow through on it.
JB: You tested the same book with BookHive about six months ago. How was that experience for you?
DB: That experience was interesting to me because I had virtually no experience with the writing community so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once I got the results, it was easy to see where I needed to make improvements. It can be difficult to open yourself up to criticism, but ultimately that’s the only way to grow and improve.
JB: How was testing it a second time? What changes did you make based on the first testing?
DB: The second time was much easier as I knew what to expect. Truth be told, I probably had it tested the first time prematurely. The second time I felt confident that it was polished and ready, and armed with the info from the first testing, I was eager for the results. I completely deleted a prologue to the novel the second time around, mostly because it tested so poorly, and I was never in love with it myself. Seeing the results only confirmed what I suspected so it was easy to cut it.
JB: Tell us about your writing process. How often and when do you write? Are you in a writers group?
DB: I have two little kids so carving out time to write can be tricky. Usually, I write once the family has gone to bed and I’m the only one awake. It’s hard to say if I have a “writing process”. Usually I’ll think of a concept or a storyline that I find interesting and just kind of work with it a bit to see if it has teeth.
JB: What’s your plan with the book in terms of getting it published?
DB: My plan is to gain representation so that I can go the traditional publishing route. My dream is really for people to just have access to my work and I think a traditional publisher will probably have the most reach.
JB: Do you ever get writers block? If so, how do you break out of it?
DB: I think anyone who has written anything of any real length has experienced it to some degree. There is a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield that is dedicated to this entirely. I subscribe to everything in that book, which is to say in a nutshell, you have to just simply do it. For me, if something is giving me trouble, the best way it to just power through, without always looking for the perfect turn of phrase. Just getting the skeleton down on paper and pushing through a lag will generate some creative juices.
JB: Why do you find working with beta readers through BookHive a valuable part of the process?
DB: The most valuable aspect is simply because it allows you to gauge how the book is being received by actual real live book readers. It’s easy to get positive feedback from friends and family. BookHive allows you to see exactly what is and isn’t working that would be extremely hard to find anywhere else. The wide swath of test readers gives a great cross-section of the population and is invaluable to anyone serious about making their novel as strong as it can be.
BookHive does beta reader editorial research for authors.
Enjoy the coupon code BUZZ for $100 off. https://www.bookhivecorp.com
Jennifer Bowen, QueenBee (more fun than CEO), of BookHive Corp.