We’re so excited to shine our spotlight on J.L. Berg today! She’s the author of The Ready Series, which is one of our favorites, and tomorrow, she releases Forgetting August, which is unbelievably amazing. Read on to learn more about this fabulous author!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved to write…even when it was just research papers and boring things for school. When I was in college, my husband and I always joked that he was great with numbers and I was good with words. As a child, I loved writing stories and creating drama on paper, but kind of lost that a bit when I got into highschool. As an adult, it was always something in the back of my head that was just waiting to be explored.
Are you a full time writer? If so, what did you do in your “previous life?”
Yes, I’ve been writing full-time for two years. Before that, I worked at a private college as a financial aid officer.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Hmmm…maybe to dress better in my twenties? 😉
Do you work on one storyline at a time or do you have multiple storylines in the pipeline?
I always have plot bunnies floating around in my head, but I only write one manuscript at a time. More than that, and it gets a little crowded in my mind and I tend to lose it.
Let’s play favorites! Who is your favorite character you’ve written?
Oh gosh…that is like picking a favorite child! But right now, I’d guess I would go with August, although Lailah is a very close second. I love the complexity of August–his background, what he’s gone through and how he handles it all. Plus, he’s just plain yummy.
Have you experienced any of your stories personally?
I always include bits and pieces of myself into every character or storyline. Some of them are real, some are totally made up. But one specific storyline that was absolutely true was the opener to WHEN YOU’RE READY, and the trip to the ER. My daughter did indeed fall off a plastic ballet barre and get a concussion. There was no hot doctor waiting for us however.
What are your biggest distractions?
FACEBOOK! Omg, facebook is my biggest time suck. I literally have to put my phone in another room when I’m up against a deadline, because otherwise it ends up like that scene from UP where the dog is constantly yelling “SQUIRREL!”
What is your least favorite part of the writing or publishing process?
Editing. I hate editing. It’s not the idea of someone correcting or critiquing my work, because I actually appreciate that part, it’s just so tedious. “I don’t know how John got from the couch to the other room…but does it really matter?!” Yes. Yes, it does.
Do you find it difficult, or challenging to write from the male POV?
LOL. Well, it’s definitely interesting. I still remember asking my husband for advice when I started writing my first male POV sex scene. I asked, “What does it feel like? Can you describe it?” I got one word. “Good.” So, I googled.
What activities do you enjoy outside of writing?
I’m a huge movie junkie. I love going to the theater, cuddling up with my husband or kids and watching a movie. Right now, our family is doing a Star Wars marathon. We all went to Target, bought Star Wars shirts and snuggled down to watch as many as we could fit in.
Do you have a favorite author or book?
Like songs, I tend to have favorite books for the moment. It’s always too hard for me to pick just one, so I usually have one favorite until another comes by. Right now, my current favorite book is THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristen Hannah.
Ever think you have a great idea for a book, only to find out someone released the same storyline already?
There are always similar storylines (step brother, anyone?) but I think what the author puts into that characters and plot is what can differentiate them. At this point, unless you’re writing a love story about a dalmatian and a dolphin, I’m quite sure it’s already been done in some way or another.
Have you ever had writer’s block and how do you work through it?
Yes. Writer’s block is totally real, and I suffer from it on occasion…especially when I hit the mid-point of a novel. I call it the “OMG, this books sucks” section. When I get there, I know it’s time to start over and do a re-read. Reading through what I’ve already written helps me with editing, and also gives me a new perspective on what I’ve already written. I can adjust the story or plotlines if necessary and it also reminds me that the book actually doesn’t suck.
Do you ever find yourself jumping up from the dinner to table to jot down a scene that just ran through your head?
For me, it’s not dinnertime…it’s always, always bedtime. I’ll be moving around, trying to find a comfortable position and relax and suddenly, my character who chose to be absent the entire day starts talking. I’ve written scenes in my head, chapters…it’s maddening.
What does your writing workspace look like?
It’s horrible. I use to be the neatest employee. Everything had a place and purpose. As a writer, my desk looks like extreme chaos. Add to that the fact that it’s currently in our formal living room because our house is so small, and yeah…it’s not the prettiest place in the world.
Sharing your work with the public has to be scary. How do you respond to negative reviews?
I don’t. Reviews are opinions, and everyone has a right to their opinion. Not everyone is going to love the same thing, therefore you can never expect every reader to fall in love with the words you write.
Do you have any visuals for your characters from any of your books?
I don’t usually go trolling around the internet for hot guys to use as inspiration…it makes for a angry husband, but I do kind of form them in my mind. And yes, if needed…I’ll google guys with green eyes or dark hair to try and get a feel for what I’m trying to describe.
Can you tell us what you are working on next?
I can! Right now, I am in the very slow process of writing BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. For those who read the Walls Duet, this is Roman’s (Jude’s brother). It’s a slow process because I’m taking the time to really figure him out and he’s well, an asshole. But, I’m really looking forward to the idea of readings finding out what lies beneath all that gruff.
What is in your purse right now?
OMG, what ISN’T in my purse right now? I’m a mom. My purse is like the dark hole of lost crap.
Do you have a favorite scene or book of your own?
The graveyard scenes in WHEN YOU’RE READY. Even now, it still get to me.
Books by J.L. Berg