I’d like to welcome, B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree M. Catherine Berg today to talk with me about her book, REVEALING MAY. Berg is a contemporary writer of murder mystery. Berg has a history in the world of TV promotional advertising and TV syndication. She lives with her husband in a small beach community along the coast of California.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I discovered indieBRAG when searching the Internet. I read their requirements for accepting books. I sent mine in and held my breath. How honored I feel to have Revealing May accepted into this wonderful group of books and authors. In addition, how appreciative I am for all that the organization does in helping to promote authors.
Please tell me about your book, REVEALING MAY.
REVEALING MAY is a Gracie Wentworth murder mystery. Gracie works for her uncle, the owner of Montgomery Group, a small, private investigation firm. In this book, Gracie reluctantly goes undercover as a reporter at the prestigious boutique winery Somerset Hills to find out who is framing her client, the owner Elliot Somerset, for murder. Elliot, fond of drinking more bourbon than wine, becomes a person of interest in the gruesome murder of a drug dealer who is found dead in Elliot’s private wine cellar. Elliot’s wife, May Somerset, is alluring and fragile, coping with a past that now threatens her family’s future. People start disappearing without a trace and the body count keeps growing. Gracie becomes deeply involved not only professionally, but also personally and starts to uncover a world of drugs, blackmail, money, sex, and lies.
Will you tell me a little about what Gracie and her mother, Lillian Wentworth’s relationship is like?
Gracie’s mother, Lillian Wentworth, is a world famous, wealthy author of lascivious sex and salacious murder novels. She is a very private, bestselling author and lives on a beach compound in Buena Del Mar. Lillian built Gracie a small beach cottage on the compound after Gracie’s tumultuous marriage and subsequent divorce. Mother and daughter have a strong bond and solid relationship. They not only relate as mother and daughter, but as single women with a strong work ethic. Both share a strong sense of justice being served, and they are sometime drinking buddies.
Tell me a little about Paso Robles wine country as the setting for your story.
My husband has been in the wine and liquor business his entire career. I have visited many wineries from Southern California, Northern California to France. I have seen the big commercial wineries, the small family owned wineries and everything in between. I love the Paso Robles wine country and enjoy visiting the wineries in that area. I knew that I wanted this book to be located there. For the book, I changed the name to Paso Miguel as the setting.
Who is Simon?
Simon is the winemaker of Somerset Hills winery. In a small boutique winery, the winemaker and owner work closely. Not only in proximity, but also in their vision of how they want the wines they are producing to taste. I found that relationship interesting. Not only the intimacy of the work but also what would happen if either one faltered in their attention to that relationship. Simon became the character and the catalyst of that idea.
How did you come up with the book title?
Each book will have a month in the title. The month will represent either a person’s name or time of year. The corresponding word will represent the story in some way.
Who did your book cover?
I work with a lady named Tara at Fantasia Frog Designs. I usually tell her my idea then sketch it out in a very primitive manner. I can’t draw worth beans so there is usually a good laugh involved. However, she works up a cover and she is usually dead-on. We do some minor tweaking and then go for it. I trust her and she is incredibly easy to work with.
How long did it take to write your story and what was your process?
The entire book from start to finish was approximately seven to eight months. My process is one that I am comfortable with and continue to use. I am a four-part structure girl. In addition, I always know my beginning, middle and end before I start. I usually have a vague overview of the story and a vision of the bad guy. Then I write a short version of the story from the bad guy’s perspective because he or she drives the story. I need to know what he hopes to accomplish with his evil ways. I then write what each character hopes to accomplish. Then I do a one or two line beat sheet for each scene from first to last. That could take me weeks. Once I have that done, I embellish each scene with a Scene Worksheet that will have everything from the time of day, characters in that scene, what is going to happen, the subplots, I throw it all in there as much as I can. When that is finished, that becomes my outline. I can flip through and read the story from beginning to end. If I need to rearrange, I move the pages around. Once I am comfortable with that, I start writing the rough draft. As the process moves along and other ideas pop up that I like and can use, I write them on the Scene Worksheet. I also keep a “Don’t Forget” list for each character that I need to fit in or mention. I try to be as organized as I can. As you can see, I am not a panster! In addition, since this is a series, I need to keep track of things mentioned in previous books that carry over. I keep it all in a notebook in front of me.
A Message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview M. Catherine Berg who is the author of, REVEALING MAY, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, REVEALING MAY, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.