Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Author Chat

Local authors talk shop about writing, small towns, and inspiration

 


Three local authors spoke about their books and the writing process at an Author Chat held at the Moose Lake Public Library on Monday, May 20.

Eric Bergman said that he grew up in Carlton and set his first fiction novel, Addie Braver, near the old truck stop on Highway 210 near Interstate 35.

"I set my story in 1977," he said. "I wrote about a girl that was 15 and a boy that was 13. They were raised by a mother who was sad in her heart. Their dad was killed in Vietnam. She married a man who was a drinker."

He spoke about the writing process and how some portions of the book came to him when we was occupied with other activities.

"I was walking to Target one day when a scene came to me," he told the group. "It felt like it fell out of the sky and fell on my head."

Advice from others was also important to Bergman.

"One woman who read the manuscript asked me how much of myself was in each of the characters," he said. "That changed everything for me. I asked myself, 'Do I admire or don't I admire this person?' I was able to funnel that into the characters."

Bergman is a teacher in Osceola, Wisconsin. He said he's invested in his characters as are readers but he hadn't decided yet whether to write another book.

Bethany Helwig writes young adult urban fantasy novels, she explained to the group. (Bethany is also the editor of the Star Gazette.)

"I started writing when I was in third grade," she said. "I was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. I wrote my first novel when I was in fifth grade. By the end of high school I finished my first fantasy trilogy. It's a trilogy that I have never published."

Helwig said it was initially hard to take criticism about her stories but she learned to see the value in it.

"Each book has been a learning process," she said. "I have gained so much experience from each one."

Helwig placed her first novel, The Curse of Moose Lake in the community. Her series also ventures to Minneapolis and Duluth.

She spoke about the writing process and how it's evolved over time.

"I'd think of a cool scene and another and another," she explained. "I'd write them down and try to map things together. After a while I took a more focused approach and would write a detailed outline for the whole book."

Helwig said that the hardest part of writing and publishing books is the marketing.

"You need to get yourself out there but that's hard for an introvert," she said. "But it is great to meet fans that have read your books."

Local author Dean Hovey is best known as the author of the Pine County Mysteries. But he also writes more humorous books for another series that are set in an assisted living facility in Two Harbors.

"My characters have back stories," he said. "The stories take me places that I don't plan to go. I have to rein it in."

He asks people to read his manuscripts (also known as beta readers) and give him feedback.

"The first time it was ugly," he said. "My baby needed plastic surgery."

Feedback from readers has been rewarding.

"One comment that I had heard from a reader was that he couldn't set the book down; he had to see how it ended," said Hovey. "Another guy told me that it took over an hour to read the last few pages of Whistling Wings because he was laughing so hard."

In answer to a question from an attendee, all of the authors agreed that they have found it best to self-publish their books. Hovey said that he has had a traditional publisher but went back to self-publishing.

"When you're working with a traditional publisher, if the book doesn't do well in the first run, they cut you off but keep the rights to the book," said Helwig. She publishes her books under her own company, Brightway Books.

All of the books written by the local authors are available in the Arrowhead Library System which the Moose Lake Public Library is a part of.

 

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