Blood To Blood

Elaine Bergstrom has always had a love for exotic and historic locales, creepy houses, twisted characters and doomed romance--all of which grew out of her youthful habits of excessive reading of gothic novels and short stories by Lovecraft and Poe, and a near-compulsive attendance at her local theater's Saturday matinee double creature features.

Elaine is a graduate of the College of Journalism at Marquette University in Milwaukee, she has worked as a Journalism teacher for Milwaukee Area Technical College and a lecturer for Alverno Colleges's Great Lakes Writer's Workshop. She currently teaches an ongoing novel writer's workshop for Milwaukee's Redbird Studios and has taught a course in historical research for novel writers for the University of Wisconsin Outreach Program.

When asked what motivates her writing Elaine responds, "My primary motivation is fear--fear that if I do not write the to best of my abilities and in a manner which my editor and fans have come to expect, I will have to go out and find a job not half as interesting, as surprising, or as stunning as being a novelist.

Welcome to our spotlight of Elaine Bergstrom and her work.

Below is an interview I had with Elaine Bergstrom via e-mail in December of 2000. Unfortunately with the expansion of our site some spotlights were delayed for quite some time.

You will be able to read about her and get to know a little about her through this interview. At the bottom of the page is a book cover of one of her books and a list of her books published and soon to be published.

CarolCastellanos: What genres do you write?

Elaine: Dark fantasy/suspense, historical horror.

CarolCastellanos: What genres would you like to write?

Elaine: What I am doing now, also would like to get more into historical fiction since I enjoy working with "real" characters.

CarolCastellanos: Where do you get your ideas?

Elaine: All over the place. Some are my own, Mina was suggested by a reporter during a phone interview. The core of Madeline came from my editor but I'm the one who wrote Poe into the story.

CarolCastellanos: Do you pattern your characters after any real people?

Elaine: In my first book, yes. But for the most part, no.

CarolCastellanos: What authors do you admire?

Elaine: My favorite authors are those who have "made it" but still go out of their way to help others...Stephen King, Dean Koontz are two that come to mind. I also admire those who tackle difficult or personally painful subjects...and anyone who plugs away at their first novel with no guarantee that it will go anywhere but into their word processor.

CarolCastellanos: What authors do you read?

Elaine: An eclectic group. I recently discovered Jonathan Kellerman and am an avid fan of Alex Delaware (though the books could use a bit more suspense). Also anything by Carl Hiaasen, Pat Conroy, Bryce Courtney, anything that catches my eye. I am currently reading "Vamps" by Pam Keesey and recently finished "What the Body Remembers" an award-winning book by Shauna Singh Baldwin (who wrote most of it while attending a writer's workshop I moderate).

Books I don't read are anything over 600 pages (sorry Stephen King), novels with characters no one could like, books with too many characters as I am getting too old to keep too many names straight.

CarolCastellanos: What genres do you read?

Elaine: Any and all, except usually mysteries.

CarolCastellanos: What other genres do you see yourself writing?

Elaine: I could do an over the top romance, but would like to write historical fiction.

CarolCastellanos: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

Elaine: Hopefully writing full time, perhaps teaching more.

CarolCastellanos: Do you see yourself ever not writing?

Elaine: It is an addiction, so no. What books do you have planned in the near future? I am now at work on a sequel to "Blood Rites" tentatively called "Nest" which should blow the Austra series into entirely new directions. Following that will be a techno-thriller I started a couple of years ago.

CarolCastellanos: Do you see yourself ever not writing?

Elaine: It is an addiction, so no. What books do you have planned in the near future? I am now at work on a sequel to "Blood Rites" tentatively called "Nest" which should blow the Austra series into entirely new directions. Following that will be a techno-thriller I started a couple of years ago.

CarolCastellanos: How did you get started writing?

Elaine: Pure boredom. I had a job that offered a lot of down time and a typewriter. On a personal note, I also had a husband who had just gone through treatement for alcoholism and I was spending a lot of time at Al-Anon meetings. For those who don't see the connection, "Shattered Glass" is at its core a novel about addiction.

CarolCastellanos: What age were you when you started to write?

Elaine: Mid-30's. Since "Glass" was published I've averaged a book a year.

CarolCastellanos: When is your next book due?

Elaine: Nest probably early in 2002.

CarolCastellanos: Was there any author or authors that helped you get your in start writing, or helped you break into the field?

Elaine: I was very lucky to be able to break in on my own. Glass was my first published fiction and I did it with an agent. That would be incredible today. I do, however, credit some authors with giving me encouragement. Margaret Carter and I exchanged chapters or our first books and kept each other going. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop was a great source of information on writing. And, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, whose work I love, gave me some of my first words of praise. I still remember them well.

CarolCastellanos: What do you feel makes your books unique or stand out from others in your genre?

Elaine: I have created a unique and detailed alien/vampire species with some very unusual strengths and weaknesses. I've enjoyed the development of all of them and now that, after such a long time away from writing about the Austras, I feel that with this new novel, I've gone to a family reunion of sorts.

CarolCastellanos: What made you choose the genres you write?

Elaine: One should always write about the subject one likes to read.

CarolCastellanos: Do you have a special subgenre?

Elaine: Dark fantasy romance? I'm not really sure.

CarolCastellanos: Do you have a favorite place you like to write?

Elaine: I used to do my best work longhand in restaurants over breakfast but carpel tunnel pretty much killed that. Now I have my desk set up in a corner of my bedroom so if I can't sleep I don't have to walk very far to go to work.

CarolCastellanos: In what order do you write? For example starting beginning to end, combining parts, in random order or in development cycle?

Elaine: I used to be random...writing the end first. Now it is pretty much in order, skipping only when I need to do more research. Many authors do their research before they write. I do it while I am writing. This does slow me down but since I often don't know exactly where a book is going it's best for me.

CarolCastellanos: Do you feel that the e-books afford authors a bit more freedom of expression in their books?

Elaine: I think the future of publishing will be electronic. What I like is how it has expanded opportunities for beginning authors, and will help keep old titles in print. Since publishing houses seem to ignore mid-list authors, I think the benefits of ebooks will be felt most by them.

CarolCastellanos: What do you feel is, or isn't being done to promote authors?

Elaine: In the US, unless you are considered a major talent, nothing much is done. This is a far cry from the British publishing industry which earmarks publicity funds for every book. So, unless a new author has a great deal of personal funds to push their work, or a name that the entertainment industry already recognizes, they may be doomed to obscurity.

I'd like to add that the other major problem facing authors are the chains. Waldens, Barnes & Noble and the other big names buy virtually all of the print run for paperbacks and they buy based on what they sold by that author before. Anyone who has gone into a chain looking for a specific paperback or slightly out of date release will agree that it often hard to get them to order a title. Hard for readers means hard for writers. Incidently, it was that very habit of not ordering more copies that made my publisher suggest I write Mina under a pseudonym.

CarolCastellanos: Do you feel that the marketing departments have their finger on the pulse of readers?

Elaine: Truly, I wish I knew. I also wish more people read. Could be a connection there.

CarolCastellanos: How do you feel about review rating systems?

Elaine: About what? This is not a term I know.

CarolCastellanos: Through what venues do you feel most of your books are being sold?

Elaine: Probably chains and specialty stores

CarolCastellanos: What do you feel is the best part of the publishing industry?

Elaine: There are still some fabulous editors and agents out there. I've been blessed with both.

CarolCastellanos: What do you feel needs to be changed about the industry?

Elaine: The tax codes, which force publishers to strip books rather than warehouse them.

CarolCastellanos: Do you think small press and e-books will be the wave of the future?

Elaine: For some writers, absolutely. Thank Amazon for making the smaller presses more accessible to readers everywhere.

Recent Or Upcoming Elaine Bergstrom titles:
Blood To Blood Novels in print and scheduled for publication:

Shattered Glass Jove, 1989, reissue ACE 1994
Blood Alone Jove, 1990, reissue ACE 1994
Blood Rites Jove, 1991, reissue ACE 1994
Daughter of the Night Jove, 1992, reissue ACE 1994
Tapestry of Dark Souls TSR Ravenloft novel, 1993
Mina written under pseudonym Marie Kiraly, Berkley, 1994
Baroness of Blood TSR Ravenloft novel, 1995
Leanna... Possession of a Woman written under pseudonym Marie Kiraly, Berkley, 1996
Madeline... After the Fall of Usher written under pseudonym Marie Kiraly, Berkley, 1996
The Door Through Washington Square Ace,
Mina re-issue under Elaine's own name, Berkley, September 2000
Blood to Blood: The Dracula Story Continues Ace, October 2000 -Sequel to Mina
Sequel to Blood Rites-- In progress

Short stories include:

"Net Songs", Women Who Walk Through Fire (anth.) Susana Sturgis, Editor, Crossroads Press
Selection from "Daughter of the Night", Daughters of Darkness (anth.) Pam Keesey, Editor, Cleis Press, 1993
"Weaver's Pride" in Tales of Raveloft TSR, September 1994
"Dragon's Egg" in Realms of Infamy, TSR, January 1995
"The Ghost of St. Mark's", Time of the Vampires, P.N. Elrod and Martin Greenberg editors, Daw, May 1996
"Tuesday Nigth at the Country B Drive Thru", Pandora #26

Spotlight hosted by Carol Castellanos

Nessie and the Living Stone

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