Our interview today is with J.B. Bergstad, author of Screwing The Pooch
FQ: Young boys thrown into new surroundings/new friends are common themes in your stories. Do you feel a certain connection to the angst they suffer?
Milton, Puppy and Dear Daniel all share bits and pieces of my youth. Recalling, in my case, lack of judgment, false bravado and plain stupidity of adolescence wasn’t that difficult. Some of my experiences as a young man have burned deep, leaving scars in some cases and in others bittersweet memories. Neither will fade from my consciousness.
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, "The Puppy Murders" was a tough story to read but one that lingered long afterwards. Was it hard to write?
Yes and no. Some of those memories were fun to recall. Sometimes what appear to be simple, perhaps even merciful, actions mark the character of the person involved in unusual ways. Good or bad those marks remain a lifetime. Reliving the horror of standing over that helpless pup, so long ago, acted as a catalyst for me. First the writing experience laundered me in overwhelming grief. Then, the act of putting it all down in black and white, excised a guilt I’ve carried for many years.
FQ: "Dear Daniel" is a confessional letter from a father to son in which another common theme appears. "That night in August, 1956, haunts my memory. It is an open wound." Tell us your thoughts on making bad decisions and how they can eat away at a person many years later.
I think angst varies depending on the personality inhabiting any given human psyche. Unless a person has developed as a sociopath, we all regret bad choices made in the past. Some of us have a pang of remorse while others allow the past to destroy our lives. We all have feet of clay. Those with common sense don’t stand in the water.
FQ: You cover many different genres in your book from romance to coming of age. Do you have a favorite genre? If yes, which one and why?
In Screwing the Pooch my goal was to provide entertainment for an audience that loves variety. I have two favorite genres. I love a well told thriller/suspense tale and the same can be said for the Western. When I read, I want to escape into another world where my mundane everyday problems seem nothing compared to the life threatening, hair raising adventures of the characters found in those two genres.
FQ: "BearClaw at the CoffeeCaker" did not have a high-tension, twist-a-minute plot. Rather it was about two lonely people who had both been dealt tough hands in life. The character development was so effective that I sped through the story to see what would happen to Nancy and Lincoln. Tell Feathered Quill's readers the importance of character development to all of your stories and how you work out the details about each character's history.
I love character study. Characters are what drive a story. If the reader doesn’t immediately feel a bond, imagined or real, with the character of a story, the story is as good as dead. I start out developing a character by using my value system and emotions as the yardstick. I know that sounds egotistical and it is but to pursue art, the artist must have an ego. In the beginning I ask
myself what I would do if I were this individual in the story. How would I walk, talk, appear to others. Am I nice guy or gal, or am I an ass, a crook, a murderer, a thief. Am I brave or a coward. I give the character or characters conflict to overcome and from there these characters pretty well define themselves.
FQ: Do you have a favorite story in Screwing the Pooch?
Yes, I do. My favorite is "Hank Straker, SA." Hank’s story and Milton Sonntag’s will eventually become novel length works. That’s the plan at present.
FQ: Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?
I’m hoping my newest novel, Hyde’s Corner, will be ready for release within the next ninety days. After Hyde’s I will follow with one of four mystery/suspense novels I have in the works: Rainy Days and Deadly Ways, Hank Straker, SA, Heart Stopper, Milton Sonntag’s story, or Wake for the Dead. Excerpts of Hyde’s Corner are available at: Hydescorner.com
FQ: Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
I’d like to thank you, Ellen, Bill Alberts, and all the readers of Feathered Quill, for the time you’ve all invested in consideration of my work. Life is so precious and fleeting and so to all who choose to spend time with my stories I am humbly grateful.