Monday, February 18, 2008

Sue Berger - From Dreams to Earthquakes

SHARI: Tell me about your books.
SUE BERGER: My first storybook was published in September, 2007 by Guardian Angel Publishing.

It's called Jamie's Dream. I wrote it with my son Christopher when he was nine.
I have another book coming out this year. "Disasters Happen: Earthquake." It is a non fiction book aimed at first and 2nd graders. It covers: What causes an earthquake? Can we predict them? How do we prepare for them? What happens during an earthquake? What do we do after an earthquake? It includes emergency preparedness lists for the child and parent and fun factoids.
I am working on a mid grade chapter book called "Tasha the Magnificent". This is a story about two girls who find a statue in a locked park and believe it is magic. I have begun the research on "Disasters Happen: Hurricane" There is a lot of information out there, but it is not written in a manner that is accessible to younger children.

SHARI: That sounds terrific. How long have you been writing?
SUE BERGER: I used to write as a child, but writing gave way to acting. In 1992 I started writing with the intention of being published

SHARI: How did you learn about children's writing?
SUE BERGER: I am a bookaholic and I love children's books. As a child, I read biographies and fairy tales. (If it was told under any color umbrella, I read it.) "To think that I saw it on Mulberry Street" was read to me in second grade and gave me a love of rhyming. I discovered the C. S. Lewis "Narnia" series in Rome when I was 17. I went to the Overseas School of Rome. Grades ran from Kindergarten through twelfth. During the Christmas break there was a big storm and the upper school building became unsafe. The seniors had classes in the lower school library. That library also had a great collection of Oz books. Since then, I have read all the magic books I could find.

SHARI: Have you taken any writing classes?
SUE BERGER: Lots of writing classes! In 1992 I was living in Redmond Washington. There is a school there called Lake Washington Vocational Technical Institute. I took several wonderful classes there. The teachers were all working writers and the assumption was you were writing for publication.
When I came back to Los Angeles, I took a number of classes in the UCLA writers program. I took Screenwriting, and Writing a Sit Com. I learned this was not my form, although I did end up with a Spec pilot for a TV series about a psychic matchmaker. Then I took short story writing, children's writing with Terry Anderson and Rewriting with Sonya Levitin (twice!) They were wonderful teachers and I feel I learned a lot.
In 2004, I went to the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers workshop led by David Greenberg. That was a marvelous experience. The classes were held in a building on the beach. On breaks you could go write on the beach or hunt the tide pools. (Guess which one I chose?) I worked on a rhyming story called "The Undertoads." Unfortunately, "Undertoads" ended up with a serious case of too much rewriting. I do not know where I am with that story anymore.

SHARI: What is the best writing tip you were ever given?
SUE BERGER: Your story usually begins anywhere from 2 pages to 15 pages into your first draft. The first part of what you have written is often your personal dance to get you into the story.

SHARI: What was the hardest thing for you to learn about writing? Why?
SUE BERGER: Upping the stakes. I am a closet Fairy Godmother. I do not want my characters to suffer or hurt. I often let things get solved too easily.

SHARI: Do you have a website/blog where we can learn more about you and your writing?

SHARI: What would we be surprised to learn about you?
SUE BERGER: Hmmm...I was in a musical on Broadway called "The Robber Bridegroom" I did the national tour of the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." I used to be married to a movie/TV star. Barry Corbin. We acted a lot together up until the time I had our first son. Six weeks after James Barry was born, Barry got "Urban Cowboy" which started his film career. During that time I chose to be an at home mom. We divorced in 1993. We are still good friends.

SHARI: Thank you for sharing that with us.

(c)2008 Sharon A. Soffe

1 comment:

Donna J. Shepherd said...

VERY interesting! Good questions, Shari. - Donna