AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT BERGSTROM
Author of The Cruelty
Hello my faithful Bookies,
I’m so excited to share with you my exclusive author interview with Scott Bergstrom who’s debut novel The Cruelty is out now.
If you haven’t done so already, do yourselves a favour, go and get The Cruelty now. There are so many theme’s throughout this book and it may surprise you to find that these themes are eye opening. Also it’s nice to have a strong female protagonist, but if you want to know more about this book see my review in this link.
I spent quite some time mewling over these questions because as any avid fan would, I had MANY but I also wanted to bring you, my followers, insightful and exclusive information as to how Scott created his masterpiece.
Before I jump into the interview I just wanted to say a special thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer my questions, it has been an honour and a privilege to speak with you.
And thank you Anna for setting it up!
So without further ado…..
How did the idea for The Cruelty come about, were you always captivated by spies and assassins or did the idea come to you in some special way?
I’ve always loved thrillers. Growing up, my parents always had them lying around. So I started grabbing those great paperbacks off my parents’ nightstands, probably when I was way too young for them. The first kernel of a plot for The Cruelty came when my mother, who was working for the State Department, volunteered for a posting in Baghdad. To say the least, I was very concerned for her safety. But the specifics of the plot came to me when I was travelling on a train between Berlin and Prague. I found myself in the train’s corridor, staring at the handle for the emergency brake. I wondered, what would happen if I pulled it? That scene is still there, in the middle of the novel, and everything before it and after it came from that one question.
When you first began writing The Cruelty was it always your plan to write for the young adult audience? What appealed to you with YA fiction verses adult fiction?
The theme of self-discovery is one we all wrestle with throughout our lives, but particularly when we’re young. That idea of growth, of searching for and finding one’s self, is something that is well-suited to YA and that YA does very well. At the beginning of The Cruelty, Gwendolyn is a cynic who doesn’t believe in heroes, even saying they belong only in ‘paper worlds.’ But when her father disappears, she discovers she needs to become precisely that—a hero—if she’s going to bring him home.
I love Gwendolyn, she’s a very strong character for so many reasons. What made you decide to make your protagonist a female teenager? Is there a message you particularly wanted to convey through choosing a female lead?
The character of Gwendolyn came to me a year or so before I started writing The Cruelty. I was working on a non-fiction book about architecture, when she showed up in my imagination one day. Certain specific qualities of her are based on my wife, most predominantly her courage, but the smaller aesthetic details are my wife’s as well, such as the red Doc Martens she wears, and her dislike of skirts and make-up. As far as the message, it applies regardless of gender, and it’s that human bravery and heroism are real, or can be, with enough determination.
You’ve come so far and I’m sure learnt so much since self publishing, winning publishing contracts worldwide and film rights which are some major feats. Did your experiences while going through these publishing processes prompt you to make any unplanned changes from your original self printed editions?
There was a long gap between when I finished the novel and the time it was accepted for publication. During that time I had a chance to think about the story and fix the things that bothered me about it, things I thought I could do better, or themes I could make more explicit. I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with my editor at Feiwel, who was a wonderful guide, pointing out areas that were unclear, or poorly rendered, or could simply be made tighter.
The Cruelty is full of action, self development and growth, strength and change as well as perseverance, courage and loyalty, there is so much a reader can take out of this book. And I found many scene’s particularly realistic and touching.
Is there a particular scene you found the hardest to write or one that is perhaps your favourite?
My favourite scenes are the ones that describe particular places, such as the warehouse in Berlin, or the secret police station. I stumbled upon these places in my travels purely by chance, before I ever knew they would be part of a story. They were so fascinating with their strange beauty and history that I couldn’t help but imagine the stories that might take place inside them.
We got to hear a lot about the incident in which Gwendolyn lost her mother, will we get to uncover any more mysteries surrounding how that event came to take place in the next book? Could she perhaps have been a spy as well?
Funny you should ask! While the actual incident in which Gwendolyn’s mother dies doesn’t play much of a role in the sequel, we do learn a lot more about her mother, and the context in which Gwen grew up. As for whether or not her mother had been a spy, too—well, let’s just say Gwen’s skills run in the family.
What can we expect to see in your forthcoming book The Greed?
The Greed, which will be coming out in February of 2018, picks up about a year after The Cruelty ends. We find Gwendolyn in a new country, with a new name, trying to wrestle with what it means to be a fugitive always looking over her shoulder. There’s a new adventure, set in a variety of countries, and Terrance comes back in a very big way.
Lastly if there was one tip you could give aspiring authors, what would it be?
Here are two things I’ve learned from other writers far more experienced that I am. One: The more you write, the better you get, especially if you have critique partners whose opinions you take to heart. Two: Keep going. No matter what. Writing day after day, continuing to research agents and send off queries, even in the face of rejection after rejection—that takes persistence, and in my opinion, there’s no substitute for it.
Thanks for reading!
Scott & Ashleigh