Author Interview: Bekah Berge
Author Interviews return this week, with a spotlight on YA Fantasy novelist Bekah Berge.
Released last June, Needlework is her third novel, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Featuring friendship, hardship, and disability awareness (something every genre could use more of), the novel is one I'm still remembering even months later.
You can read my full review here.
Here's the book blurb:
For as long as she can remember, Melly has only been good at one thing: making music. From the instant she got her fingers on a flute and tambourine, music had transformed her life and become a way for her to express the hidden desires of her heart. And like every artist in the realm, joining the illustrious Olive Branch Music and Arts Festival was her ultimate dream.
When Hakim encounters Melly singing in a grubby tavern, his world stops for the briefest of moments. For Hakim, it was as clear as the sky on a sunny day—her voice was what his band, Needlework, had been missing. On a whim, a deal is struck. Soon Melly finds herself whisked away with the band as they join the Olive Branch Festival for what promises to be one wild ride.
***Trigger Warning: Content includes after-effects of sexual assault, as well as depression, grief, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.
Music is at the heart of Needlework, and Bekah does a great job placing readers in the epicenter of Olive Branch. While many authors (myself included) make playlists to accompany their work, this book has it's own song! With lyrics by Berge herself and performed exquisitely by Jayne McLendon, My Sweet Salty Tears is hauntingly beautiful. Give it a listen here and enjoy for yourself.
There's even a fun quiz for readers. I got Taran, who's surname is (ironically) Quinn. Which Needlework character are you? Tell me in the comments!
Working with Bekah was a pleasure, and I'm so thankful she agreed to participate in these segments. Here's what she had to say:
LQ: Including Needlework, you’ve written four novels. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
BB: I think one of the most surprising things I’ve learned from writing my books is that I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Every book is a challenge and I love that. Every story comes with its own set of topics for me to weave into the plot. It doesn’t get easier, but I find I quite enjoy that.
LQ: What is your favorite part of publishing? Least favorite?
BB: My favorite part of publishing is when you first begin to tease the story and show glimpses of what you’ve been working on. I love the cover reveal too. Building anticipation for a new release is a lot of fun! My least favorite part is probably the marketing bit. I am awful at Amazon ads and haven’t found much success with them. So I know there’s a learning curve, but whew…it’s not something I enjoy spending time doing.
LQ: What do you think of NaNoWriMo? Worth it? What advice would you give to help those new to the craft to help them prepare?
BB: I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, but only done it successfully once. It’s fun to be writing alongside so many other writers and have that community feel. I would say plot out your story as best you can and stock up on tea or coffee. And chocolate.
LQ: Needlework is set against a traveling music festival. Do you listen to music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?
BB: I am all about the music! It plays a big role in plotting, writing, and editing for me. I listen to music every step of the way and usually have one or two musicians that I primarily listen to while writing certain books. For Needlework, I listened to a lot of Hozier and Foo Fighters.
LQ: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?
BB: I don’t usually put too much of myself into my characters, but the sole exception to that would be Hakim in Needlework. I gave him a lot of the things I deal with, but the main one is living with chronic pain. I have two diseases CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) and EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) and both have impacted my life tremendously. I very rarely see YA Fantasy books with a main character that has a disability and so I decided to write one.
LQ: Which of your characters are most likely to be an activist, and what kind?
BB: Nova, without a doubt. She would be organizing campaigns, she’d be out on the street with signs, she’d be the head of a non-profit. I mean Nova would really fight for people and stand up for those that need help. She would inspire great change in the world, simply by being herself.
LQ: What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
BB: Taran married a princess from a far away kingdom, of course. They have an open relationship. Hakim, Melly, Nova, and Katya opened up the tavern on a tropical island. They continue to play music and build a really meaningful life together. I’ll keep to myself what I envision for Melly and Hakim’s future, but let’s just say I think they both deserve a happily ever after.
LQ: Have you listened to any audiobooks? Which did you enjoy the most?
BB: I very, very rarely (and by rarely, I mean never) listen to audiobooks. It’s just not for me. I’ve tried several different ones and my mind wanders and then suddenly I’m halfway through and have no idea what the book is about.
LQ: What book(s) are you currently reading? What’s next on your TBR?
Bekah has authored several other titles in addition to Needlework,
The Whisperings in the Shadows and The Knife in the Shadows follow the journey of Marble across the Nine Kingdoms. What will one uncommon girl sacrifice to save her beloved mother? The duology recently got two stunning new covers and promises not to disappoint.
Sedendum, like Needlework, is a standalone and one on my own TBR that I'm really excited about. Seven players from across the land of Imperium are chosen by the god of death to play what appears to be a simple game. The winner will have the chance to make one wish for anything or anyone—dead or alive.
You can order these amazing titles here.
Once Upon A Name is part of a unique anthology, the proceeds of which will all be donated to charity in an effort to support reading and literacy. How cool is that?!
This collection of short stories is the brainchild of twenty author friends, who accepted the challenge of a fairy tale name generator. Soon, twenty new characters were off on wild adventures.
In this clean YA anthology, meet a goddess, a countess, and a wannabe sorceress. Join a wolf pack leader and a guardian frog sidekick. Search for victims with a hunter-turned-detective, and swoon over the sultana who must prove she's fit to rule. Cavort with demons, wraiths, and demigods. Lose your way in the Mist, then lose your soul to the Bone Marsh. Root for a genie's freedom. Hope for a witch to get her spell right. And yes, feel your heart flutter at unexpected romance.