Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lisa Bergren's The Gifted Series Takes Us to Italia!

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology, is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her espionage thriller, Dead Reckoning, will release March 1, 2010 through Abingdon Press. The first book in her military thriller series, Nightshade, will hit shelves July 01, 2010 (Barbour Publishing). An active member of ACFW, Ronie volunteers as the assistant to the conference appointment coordinator, and she also does speaking engagements.

Visit Ronie at her website or her blog.

Hey, y'all! Today, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite authors and favorite series. Lisa Tawn Bergren has written many, many books, including her recent historical series (Breathe is awesome, BTW) with David C. Cook Publishing, but today we'll focus on her series, The Gifted (Berkley) which features The Begotten, The Betrayed, and The Blessed. I fell in love with this series, and hope you'll find it and Lisa as fabulous as I do!

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a mom of 3, wife to Tim, walker of a white Westie, and part-time writer. I love to travel, explore, experience and learn, whether at home or away.

Can you please share a bit about your publishing journey?

I was bartending in a ski resort on Sundays in 1990. Became pretty depressed, realized I was Far Away from my faith foundations, read the Peretti novels, had a personal reformation, went to Israel, returned to work in the industry that had called me home (Christian music and books). Got a job, wrote a book (a pathetic biography that I don’t even want to give you the title for). Got another job, wrote a contemporary romance novel that became a best-seller (Refuge). Wrote five other books in quick succession that all did great…wrote some others that sold all right (not great). The market was slowing down and become more glutted. I wrote a best-selling kids’ book (God Gave Us You) and expanded into historical women’s fiction, contemporary general fiction, a devotional, a women’s Bible study, and supernatural suspense. I keep trying new genres because I’m always interested in the “new” thing; but it makes it hard for my publishers to “package” me.

At present, how many books have you had published, and what book(s) are you working on now?

Just finished my 31st book—the third in my Colorado Homeward trilogy (Breathe, Sing, Claim). I’m diving into my outline for a teen time travel series that will take me back to medieval Italy, the River of Time series, beginning with Waterfall. (What was I just saying about new genres???)

Ohhh!! I can't wait to read that. I love (and am writing a) time travel too!!! We'll just say you're diverse. ::grins::

You are an incredibly talented writer with many books to your name. I love your Gifted series, which takes place internationally. Where did the inspiration for this series come?

I loved The Da Vinci Code but hated the heresy in it. At the time, my family was also way into the Lord of the Rings trilogy (movies). So The Gifted (The Begotten, The Betrayed and The Blessed) was born, sort of a marriage between the suspense and mystery of Da Vinci, and the epic nature of LOTR.

Aha! I can see that--you did a great job on the series!

Who is your absolute favorite character you’ve written, and from what book is this character? Why is this one your favorite?

Daria from The Gifted series. She’s beautiful, smart, courageous. She has the gift of healing, and yet is struggling to heal herself (her heart has been broken). She’s discovering the power of God’s love, even in the midst of amazing, crippling adversity. I want to be as brave as Daria when I grow up.

Me too, because I think you did a fabulous job on helping her maintain a gentle nature with that bravery and courage!

You and I share the same agent. How did you come to work with Steve?

I knew him for years as a fellow editor (when he was at Bethany and I was at WaterBrook). He’d gone to work for a New York agency when I came up with the proposal for The Gifted—and wanted it shopped around to the NY publishers as well as the Christian market. Since then, of course, he’s gone out on his own.

Forgive me--I had forgotten you were an editor. Your talents are truly diverse and amazing!

In publishing, what has been the biggest surprise to you in terms of the process?

That no matter how much you put into a book, how much you try and market it, you can’t make a book a best-seller. It all is in the hands of God. I’ve had books that I put everything into (mental, emotional, physical and financial investments), and they sold squat; my biggest seller of all was a children’s book that God gave me in the middle of the night, and I put about three hours into—it’s sold over a million copies. Not that you shouldn’t put reasonable effort into marketing…it’s just that you have to know when to give it to God and trust him.

Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or a plotter? Or both?

I usually have a general plot arc written out. But characters need room to breathe—so I do a lot of seat-of-the-pants writing. However, after rewriting 30,000 words in my last book, I think I’ll have a more detailed outline this time ‘round.

In your Gifted series, the characters journey internationally—Italia!—and they explore ancient sites. I’m sure this takes extensive research. What countries does or has this series explored already, and what is the favorite place you’ve written about? (if you have a photo, please share).

In researching The Gifted, I went to Italy three times, and once to France. I know, I know…poor baby! But we’ve really fallen hard for Italia. This last fall, my husband and I returned to Tuscany for a bit of research for this new time travel series—and some seriously great couple time too. We can’t wait to return—we want to explore the Cinque Terre in the north, and the southern Amalfi Coast. (I’m giving him a Rosetta Stone Italian set for Valentine’s Day—that’s how serious we are!) Here’s a link to a video we made from the villa we rented—just outside Piensa and Montepulciano:

My latest series, the Homeward Trilogy (Breathe, Sing, Claim) is set in the mountains here in Colorado. Lemme tell you, it’s WAY cheaper to research in the States…if you’re a new writer, start at home! My favorite location for this series was near Westcliffe in Southern Colorado—amazing, breath-taking Sangre de Cristo mountains and lush ranch land. Sweet! I’d want to live there…why not set my characters there, since I cannot? My kids go to camp down near there; that’s how I discovered it/decided to set part of my novels there.

What kind of research do you undertake to prepare to write your novels?

Love to go on-location. Totally different than what you read in books. I also like little niche books written by locals that you find in museums where you set your books. Other than that, general history books for the time period usually give me what I need to get rolling.

After I finish the River of Time series, I’m due to write a series based on a group of characters on the Grand Tour in Europe. Were actually thinking about to Europe for a year as a family, homeschooling the kids, researching and writing, as well as doing some spiritual pilgrimages to awe-inspiring communities putting their faith forward in 3D fashion. If we can figure out the finances, we’re totally going for it. Research has ignited a passion for travel and we launched a web site to share what we learn:

Who are the most influential people in your life?

My husband, Tim. My best friend, Sarah. My kids. Fabulous Christian authors (nonfiction and fiction) that make me think and process and learn more about what I believe. And my mother, even though I’m almost 43 years old!

THANK YOU, Lisa, for taking time to share your life, heart, and writing with us.

Visit Lisa's Website

BUY The Begotten here

READERS: Leave a comment--tell us if you've been to Italia and what you loved about it, and you could win a free copy of The Begotten, Book #1 of The Gifted! Be sure to leave a valid email address.
(US & Canada residents only, please!)


  1. Loved, loved, loved the Gifted series :)

    I've been to Italia and adored the depth of history it holds. Wasn't a big fan of stinky Gondola rides but the Colosseum, the Forum, the Amalfi coast...I could go on :)

    Thanks so much for the interview, Lisa & Ronie - you know not to include me in the giveaway, foreigner that I am ;-)

  2. Great interview, Ronie. Lisa, I can't wait to read your YA time travel series. It sounds so cool. I would dearly love to be able to travel to the south of France and to Tuscany for research. That's my dream! I LOVE the Gifted series (am working on my review now), LOVE Breathe, and can't wait for the next books.

    No need to enter me in the giveaway. Have a blessed day!

  3. Ronie, fascinating interview! Lisa, thanks for sharing your research tips with us. I hope your plans for a year in Europe come together - an amazing experience :-)

  4. I've never been to Italy, but would love to win one of Lisa's books. Thanks for a great interview, Roni and Lisa.

    susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com

    Susan :)

  5. My daughter studied art history in college and when she graduated we did a mother-daughter trip. Ravena was our favorite place--uncluttered with tourists and not rebuilt in the Renaissance. But I would love to spend time in Tuscany also.