Monday, February 1, 2010

A View from J. Mark Bertrand's Window - Beguiled - GIVE AWAY!!

Mark Bertrand is a name that will soon become familiar in the Christian fiction market! I am thrilled to have him visit with us today about Beguiled - a collaborative effort with Deeanne Gist. This story is a great blend of romance and suspense, and fans will love the writing duet of these two fine authors!

Without further delay....please, welcome Mark Bertrand to my Window!

Beguiled is the first collaborative effort for both you and Deeanne Gist. How did you two know one another and what was it like to work together?

We met five years ago at the Baylor Art & Soul conference, just before Deeanne’s first book A Bride Most Begrudging hit the shelves. Her editor at Bethany House, Dave Long, introduced us. (Now he’s my editor, too.) After that, Deeanne joined a weekly writing workshop I helped start and we became great friends. I’d read her work, she’d read mine. With that experience, when it came to writing a book together, we figured we’d make a great team.

We did. But it wasn’t always easy. Neither of us had collaborated before, so it took some time to work out the kinks. Writing a book together was probably twice as hard as it would have been for either of us to do one alone! But the result is something neither of us could have done alone, a unique blend of two very different voices.

Charleston, South Carolina was your choice of setting according to the Author’s Notes at the end of the story. What drew you to this area? What significance does it hold for you?

One of the questions an author has to ask is, “Would readers like to visit this place?” With Charleston the answer is yes. I’d visited Charleston the year before and despite all the tourists, the city has a real mystique. There’s a sense of the past, but this is also a functioning modern city. For Americans, it’s like a little slice of Europe plopped down in South Carolina. Unlike so many of our cities, it’s also walkable, which is a plus when your heroine is a dog walker.

Romance and Suspense are very effective partners in a well-written story. There are scenes in the novel that are pretty intense with the deep desires of both characters becoming almost tangible. Were you part of that process too? Or were you focused on the suspense, leaving the romantic tension to Deeanne? How did that work out since you’d never worked together before?

Believe it or not, I did write some of the romance scenes. Deeanne read one of them and said, “It lacks romantic tension, but that’s no surprise since you wrote it.” I was offended, naturally, but when I told my wife she nodded in understanding. To make a long story short, each of us had a hand in every scene, either writing the first draft or revising and rewriting. Some readers think they can tell which parts are mine and which are Deeanne’s, while others can’t. I’m in the latter category. I’ll look at a passage and think, “Did I write that one or did Dee?”

Rylee’s heart is pretty tattered throughout the story, as is her faith, because of events from her childhood. There is a very moving scene where she finally comes face to face with her Heavenly Father. How important was it to you and Deeanne to present an overt faith message without deterring from the building suspense of the story? I found it to be very believable. Was that hard to accomplish?

For a moment like that to be believable to readers, it has to flow honestly from the character and the situation. Our goal as novelists is to tell a story, not present a message. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s no way given Rylee’s faith that she’d go through that “dark night of the soul” without confronting the spiritual implications. Her struggle is one readers can relate to, and I think that’s one thing that makes the moment so moving.

Logan is a lovably flawed hero of sorts in this story. He really has to walk a fine ethical line between writing for the paper and writing his book [NOTE: He’s working on a nonfiction book, not a novel]. Is this a position authors could realistically find themselves in? Have you ever been in that situation? If so, how is it handled?

Logan’s moonlighting gets him into hot water, but it’s a dilemma any journalist looking to break into publishing might face. Is the story his, or does it belong to the paper? Or better yet, does it belong to the people it’s happening to, meaning that Logan is using them to make his reputation? Any storyteller, even a novelist like me, can relate to that qualm. Of course, in fiction we typically change the names and facts to protect the innocent, something you can’t do when you’re writing nonfiction.

Can you tell us about your writing projects aside from Beguiled? What’s next for you?

My first crime novel, Back on Murder, releases this summer. It’s the beginning of a series featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. The advance buzz has been very positive. For example, Sigmund Brouwer says, “There’s no way you’re going to take your eyes off it until it’s finished. The story and writing is that good.” And Mark Mynheir, who in addition to writing novels is a homicide detective, says I’ve “captured the surreal world of homicide detectives with a realism and power rarely seen in fiction.” There’s an excerpt and a lot more information online at

Will readers ever see Gist and Bertrand listed as the authors of another story?

Who knows? Nothing’s been planned, and we’re both pretty busy with solo projects. If readers want more, though, you never know.

What exciting things is God doing in your life?

With Beguiled coming out and Back on Murder scheduled for the summer, and the next two March novels slated for 2011 and 2012, he’s keeping me busy … and for a writer, that’s always exciting.

Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

Writing Beguiled was hard work for us, but above all it was sheer fun. Our delight in the story comes through as you read it. If you’re up for something a little different, a blend of romance and suspense set in a fascinating location full of jump-off-the-page characters, give Beguiled a try.

I have a FREE copy of Beguiled to give away! Please leave a comment on this post to be eligible for the GIVE AWAY!!


Mocha with Linda said...

Great interview! I enjoyed hearing from him. And LOL I posted an interview with Deeanne Gist today (although it was from the Expo before this novel even came out!)

I'm going to link to this interview in my review tomorrow if you don't mind!

Amber Holcomb said...

I'd love a chance to win a copy of this book! Thanks so much! :)


J. Mark Bertrand said...

Hi Kim! I had a great time with the interview, and I'm glad you enjoyed the book. :)

Merry said...

Romantic suspense is what I love to read and I'd love to win Beguiled. Add me please! Thanks for a chance.


Unknown said...

Sounds like a book I'd like. Thanks for the chance.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Barbara H. said...

I am here from Mocha With Linda's and would LOVE to win this book! We've visited Charleston 3 times and it is exactly as he said. I haven't read either author yet and would like to.

donna said...

I'd love to read this, i've heard some pretty good things about it!

rebornbutterfly (at) sbcglobal(dot) net


Jackie S. said...

I want to read this book so much!! Please enter me. Linda with Mocha sent me. I love the Charleston area as my daughter lives there.

Megan @ Inspired by Fiction said...

I would love to read this book! thanks for the chance to win!


Anonymous said...

I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

Michelle V said...

Oh I want to read this one so bad! Please enter me!

Michelle V

Annette W. said...

I agree...suspense and romance make for a good book! Please enter me!

derekannette at gmail dot com

Winning Readings said...

We posted aabout this giveaway at Winning Readings:

Loved this book too!
janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Molly said...

Please enter me!! I'd love to win this!!

Blessings and Hugs,

Carmen said...

Great interview. Interesting the workings on a collaborative work! Please enter me.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Virginia C said...

A great interview! I really enjoyed learning how the collaborative process worked for these two writers in producing this romantic fiction work. Very interesting and encouraging team work! I'd love to win!

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Kim said...

CONGRATULATIONS JACKIE! Please be watching for my email!

Thanks to everyone who entered! More great give aways just ahead!

wmmahaney said...

Wonderful interview. I have loved books by Deeanne Gist and would love to read this one too.