Meet Pat Bertram – I first met Pat through our publisher, Second Wind Publishing. We worked together from time to time on editing projects and so on. We didn’t always see eye to eye on things, but there was always an element of respect. Pat is one of the best authors out there and her work is worthy of recognition. Take a few minutes to read her interview and the review of one of her books, “A Spark of Heavenly Fire”.
What is your book about?
A Spark of Heavenly Fire tells the story of how Kate Cummings, an ordinary woman, gathered her courage and strength to survive the horror of an unstoppable bioengineered disease let loose on the state of Colorado.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
A Spark of Heavenly Fire came about because of a Washington Irving quote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” I loved the idea of a woman who felt half-dead when everyone else was doing well, but in a time of dying, she came to life. Since I didn’t want to do a war story, I created a plague — the red death. I had fun with that!
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
Freud thought every role in a dream was played by the dreamer, and in a way, that’s the way my books are. The emotions the characters feel are mine since I can only write what I feel, and their personal problems are ones I’ve grappled with. In the writing, though, the characters become more than I ever was as they develop in response to the needs of the story. Kate from A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the most like me, maybe because she was the first character I created.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
My biggest challenge was finding the beginning of the story. I liked the story, and I kept telling myself that if people could just get through the first fifty pages they would like the story, too. Then one day it dawned on me that the solution of getting readers to see the story beyond the less than sparkling beginning was to get rid of the first fifty pages. So I junked those early chapters, wrote a new beginning, and then the real challenge began. After two hundred rejections, I finally found a publisher who loved the book.
Do you know your ending before you begin?
I know the beginning, the end, and a couple of important scenes in the middle before I begin. I need to know where I started and where I am headed, otherwise I get lost.
What is your latest release?
My latest release is a non-fiction book Grief: The Great Yearning, a compilation of letters, blog posts, and journal entries I wrote while struggling to survive my first year of grief after the death of my life mate/soul mate. I wanted my fellow bereft to know that whatever crazy things they do to bring themselves comfort, others have done. And as hard as it is to believe, they will survive.
What other books do you have published?
More Deaths Than Onetells the story of Bob Stark who sees his mother’s obituary in the morning paper, which stuns him because he buried her two decades ago before he left the country to live in Southeast Asia. So how can she be dead again?
Daughter Am I is the story of a young woman who inherits a farm from her murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born. She becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead.
Light Bringer: Thirty-seven years after being abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Colorado, Becka Johnson returns to try to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? And why are
What genre are your books?
The unifying theme in all of my books is the perennial question: Who are we? More Deaths Than One suggests we are our memories. A Spark of Heavenly suggests we are the sum total of our experiences and choices. Daughter Am I suggests we are our heritage. Light Bringer suggests we are the product of history. So, perhaps my genre is “identity quest,” though I can’t see that as ever being a big draw, so I usually call my novels “thrillers” or “Pat Bertram books.”
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
I have a website — http://patbertram.com — where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my writing, and my life on a daily basis is by way of Bertram’s Blog. http://ptbertram.wordpress.com
All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. Smashwords is great! The books are available in all ebook formats, including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!
A Spark of Heavenly Fire – Pat Bertram
Kate Cummings works in a medical clinic as a patient advocate. Since the death of her husband, she’s led a quiet, uneventful life. All that changes when a jogger in the park falls on her, hemorrhages and dies. This event is strange enough, but when the same symptoms appear in a woman at the clinic, Kate realizes that something more is going on.
At the park, Kate meets Greg Pullman, a reporter for the newspaper. He’s somewhat younger than she, but they click on many different levels. When his fiancee, Pippi O’Brian, dumps him, he finds friendship and solace with Kate.
Together, Kate and Greg begin investigating the odd circumstances surrounding the deaths of the jogger and the woman at her office. As more and more people get ill, the city of Denver finds itself under military quarantine.
“A Spark of Heavenly Fire” is a well paced thriller. Kate and Greg race against time, trying to find the cause of the outbreak as well as survive in the aftermath. The characters are 3 dimensional and believable. The reader feels a link them them, and hope that they will somehow survive.
I highly recommend “A Spark of Heavenly Fire” for anyone who likes a good mystery with a dash of romance. It’s an excellent book and I look forward to reading Pat Bertram’s other novels – “More Deaths Than One”, “Daughter Am I”, “Lightbringer” and “Grief: The Great Yearning” (non-fiction).
Look for all Ms. Bertram’s books at www.secondwindpublishing.com as well as Amazon.com, BN.com and Smashwords.com