Author Q&A: Kathryn Berla - Dream Me
The release of Kathryn Berla's newest YA romance, Dream Me, is just around the corner! Kathryn is quickly rising into the ranks of highly accomplished YA authors with her flawless storytelling and character building. We got an inside look at how Kathryn developed Dream Me and her characters and learned what her favorite part of writing a story is. You don't want to miss adding this book to your shelves!
AJ: What was your inspiration for a time travel romance?
KB: I literally dreamed Dream Me. Not the entire story, of course. But I dreamed about a young man visiting from the future through my dreams. When I woke up I wrote everything down before I forgot it. I had always wanted to write a story about my experience of being a California girl transported to the deep South, so I decided to combine the two into a YA romance. Obviously, the actual events and people are fictionalized, but I wanted the locale (the beautiful Gulf Coast panhandle) to be as important to my story as any of the characters. AJ: In the book, readers get just glimpses of Zat’s futuristic world. Can you tell us a little bit more about the future that Zat comes from and how you developed the imagery?
KB: I have a friend with a PhD in astrophysics and so I questioned him about what the end of the world would look like. And then I tried to imagine how people would have evolved (physically) in order to protect themselves from the sun. And, of course, reptilian came to mind because they are cold-blooded creatures who can thrive in the most extreme heat. So Zat’s normal physical state to me was reptilian. As a child, I never feared death as long as I could believe that the Earth would continue to exist long after I was gone. I still feel that way. But to me, the scariest thing is to imagine an end to our gorgeous planet, and I tapped that fear to create Zat’s world. AJ: Which relationship of Babe’s was your favorite to explore?
KB: That’s very hard for me to say because I love all of Babe’s friends and, of course I love Zat. I think that each character grows and becomes stronger through their friendships with the others, allowing them to explore difficult truths about themselves. Especially Zat who has to make impossible decisions that are literally life-threatening or at the very least life-altering. I suppose I have the biggest soft spot for LeGrand because he’s an old-soul. He’s also a very gentle soul, some might say too kind for the world into which he’s been thrust. But I have such optimism for him and his future once he determines that what initially looked like the hard road—honesty and living true to one’s beliefs and ideals— will actually prove to be the easiest path forward in life, and certainly the most fulfilling. AJ: We love that you added Babe’s blog posts and reader’s comments to slowly reveal new information. Who was your favorite commenter on her blog? Did you develop your own character profiles for each one?
KB: I did develop a character profile for each commenter on the blog. I wanted to show how people come into a blog seeking to affirm their own needs and/or beliefs. My favorite commenter would be DreamMe because (s)he is mysterious and everyone has their own theory about DreamMe’s true identity. AJ: You are an avid writer. Can you tell us about your favorite phase in developing a story?
KB: I have a Word file called “novel ideas” and there are about a hundred of them. And those are just the ones I think I may be able to get to. So, I guess you can say my favorite phase is the initial story idea. Sometimes it comes from just a concept, a “what if”. Other times, it comes from a title that sounds great to me so I think up a story to go with the title. A song. A scent that evokes a memory. A story I hear about in the news. A topic that feels important to me. Once I start writing I maintain strict discipline until I’m done. Everyone in my family knows to leave me alone until I reach my daily word count, after which I return to being human.