Sunday, 6 April 2014

Author Interview: Berni Stevens

For my second interview of the weekend I have another talented Choc Lit author, Berni Stevens whose novel Dance until Dawn is out tomorrow as a paperback, eBook already available.

You’re obviously a very creative & busy lady as I’ve read that you are a freelance book cover designer as well as a writer, what does a typical working/writing day look like for you? 
I’m not sure any day is exactly a typical working day. Apart from me being behind my Mac every day from 9am – and still being there at 8pm

Generally I will work on my cover designs during the day, and then start 
writing after 5.30pm. But of course, it doesn’t always work like that. Some covers take longer to design and be approved, so on days like that I won’t get any writing done at all. Sometimes the writing doesn’t flow either, so I have to stop for the day, and other times I’m writing like a lunatic for hours.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book Dance until Dawn?
Dance Until Dawn is a paranormal romance between Ellie, a very new vampire and Will, a three-hundred-year-old vampire. It tells the story of how the heroine comes to terms with what she’s become, and how she learns to adjust, whilst coping with a new romance that Will wants to last for eternity. When his old flame turns up in London, it all gets a lot more complicated.

All your novels to date have been paranormal/fantasy based, what is it about this genre that appeals to you most? And would you ever consider writing a different genre?
Fantasy is a genre I’ve loved ever since first reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was at school. I think there’s more scope in writing for this genre, because the possibilities are endless. But I would never discount writing something different sometime soon. 

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories as fantasy/paranormal events are not exactly everyday occurrences? 
Are you sure about that? (Grins) I’m interested in folklore and legends – especially urban legends, and have read a lot of books on the subject. Many years ago, I read the urban myth of The Highgate Vampire, which fascinated me. It showed that even in the so-called enlightened late 20th century, ordinary people could be swept along in the belief that vampires do exist. (Although we are talking early 1970s here!) 

Highgate Cemetery was often used for filming in the 1960s-70s, and 
anyone who has ever visited the West Cemetery, can see why. The Gothic mausoleums and crypts are incredible, and because the Cemetery is a conservation area, it’s full of prolific wildlife and wild flowers. I only need to walk around there to feel inspired.

Are you a plot planner or do you start writing and see where it takes you?

I’m almost ashamed to say that I don’t plot extensively. I’m amazed at how thorough a lot of authors are with their planning. Although I do always have a basic plot to begin with. I’ll write a rough synopsis and start writing from there. Often the characters take over once I start writing, and sometimes I even find I’ve killed someone off too early and want them back! 

However, I am very meticulous about research. Even to house prices in 
certain areas. One thing that’s taught me, is I will never afford to live in Highgate!

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it? 
I’m working on the third book in the series. It’s got the working title of Alpha, but that will probably change. A lot of the book’s action takes place in Will’s club, Dusk, but the romance is between the manager of the club and a beautiful singer. Several characters from the first two books pop up, including Will and Ellie. This time the heroine is human, but the hero is a werewolf. 

If you could go away anywhere to write, where would it be? 

Without question I would take myself off to the Utah Desert. It’s a favourite place of mine and my husband’s. We have been there every year for many years, and we love the desert landscape, the solitude, and the sweltering hot sun of course. One of my favourite bookshops is in Moab, Utah. It’s called The Back of Beyond. 

If you could write a famous person into one of your stories, who would it 
be and why? 
That’s an interesting question. I have read a few books that have featured famous people, although in Gothic literature the most favoured person tends to be Lord Byron! 

I think it would be fun to have Bram Stoker pop up in a vampire novel, 
although he’s been dead for over a hundred years, so that wouldn’t be much use for a contemporary novel. My characters are music fans, so maybe a rock god like David Bowie. He’d probably sue me though … 

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it 
Read, read and read. Never give up, and follow your dream. It will happen.

If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who 
would you choose and why?
Bram Stoker of course, because he wrote the most famous vampire novel ever. I have loads of questions only he could answer. 

Agatha Christie because I read all her books at school and I feel sure she 
had a very clever – but criminal mind. She would make an interesting guest, although I might check her for cyanide as she came in! 

Alan Garner because The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of my favourite 
books, and I want to know why it’s never been filmed. 

What’s the last book you’ve read that has made you cry?

I cry more in films than I do at books. But it’s usually when something horrible happens to an animal. Black Beauty had me sobbing. A well-meaning aunt gave the book to me when I was eight, and I was traumatised by it. Oh, I did cry when J K Rowling killed off Dumbledore, so that was probably the last time I cried over a book. 

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?

I never have – but I like the idea, thank you!


  1. Thank you Shaz, for hosting me on your lovely blog!

  2. You have a very varied - and busy - working life, that's for sure, Berni. It's clear you love it, though. Here's wishing you all the best for Dance Until Dawn. It sounds great!

  3. I'm sure your stories are as brilliant as your cover designs so can't wait to read this one.
    Angela Britnell

  4. What a brilliant interview - I too research things like house prices for my books. Loving the idea of Highgate Cemetery - definitely want to visit it. And please write about Byron - I love him!

  5. I also wept buckets at Black Beauty, I even read it again recently and the tears welled up. And as for Highgate Cemetery, it's on my list of 'must visit some day'. So with so much in common Berni, I'm sure I shall enjoy Dance Until Dawn.

  6. Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. Margaret and Angela, I really hope you enjoy Dance Until Dawn. Yes do visit Highgate Cemetery, you will be astounded at its Gothic beauty, I know I was - and still am. Kirsty, it will mean a lot to you, as Elizabeth Siddell is buried there along with a few Rossettis :)