Interview with Mary Ann Bernal

Mary Ann Bernal

Interview Date: 5/23/2012


Mary Ann Bernal, author of The Briton and the Dane novels, is an avid history buff whose area of interest focuses on Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain during the Viking Age. While pursuing a degree in business administration, she managed to fit creative writing classes and workshops into her busy schedule to learn the craft, but it would take decades before her “Erik the Viking” novel was ultimately published.
Mary Ann is also a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter writing campaigns and other support programs since Operation Desert Storm. She has appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has also been a featured author on various reader blogs and promotional sites.
Mary Ann is a New York “expat,” and currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska.

When did you start writing?

During high school, I would write an occasional short story, but it would take years before I was able to participate in creative writing courses and workshops, and many more years would pass before my first novel was published.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

I would choose power augmentation which is the ability to add to or lessen someone else’s powers.

Kev's response: Potentially very sought after by some!

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies

Hercules - my favorite demigod - I love Greek and Roman mythology.

Kev's response: Or ... you love scantily clad men. Or Kevin Sorbo. Hmm.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

I have always wanted to write my “Erik the Viking” novel, especially after watching the old Hollywood blockbusters such as “The Vikings,” with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis. There were quite a few period movies released during that time, which stirred my imagination, planting the seeds for the epic adventure that I recently completed with “The Briton and the Dane” trilogy. Motivation is easy for me, my characters want their story told, and I do aim to please.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

My stories are in my mind’s filing cabinet waiting to come to life. When I started the first book of the trilogy, I did everything I learned in class, from proper research notes to character lists and the recommended outline. However, once I began writing, my characters developed a life of their own, and as the story unfolded, black and white developed shades of gray. As one might expect, my outline and character sheets went into the circular file. Remember what works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for another. There is no right or wrong way to write, in my humble opinion.

Kev's response: I had notes on my characters, but I found it was nice to detail them for readers in an illustrated guide after the 6th novel in my series.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I have followed Stephen King’s recommendations, which are to set aside a specific part of the day to write with a reasonable daily goal, i.e. number of words and/or pages. Once you reach your goal, you are finished for the day. I prefer writing in the afternoon, but I have burned the midnight oil to finish a chapter.

Kev's response: Huh? Stop at the goal point? I like hitting, and then surpassing my goal.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I love history so my novels are historical fiction. My reading tastes include the Ancient Roman Empire and British and European history from the age of the Caesars through the Dark Ages.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I love to get inside my characters’ heads and get their story told. Its such fun to write stories, and I still have quite a few adventures to share.

Kev's response: Not to mention the threats from the characters if you fail to act on it....

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

Technicalities can be annoying, but that’s it. There’s nothing about writing that I don’t enjoy.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I’m proud to be a Trekkie! But then I do not consider being a Star Trek nerd as being odd.

Kev's response: TrekkIE? Not Trekker? Hmm. Either you're not "in" with the Trek, or you somehow missed a decade! ;P

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I am very methodical and can only write one story at a time. However, I can take a break from the manuscript once in awhile to write an occasional short story.

In my evil plot to take over the world, do you advise I use highly intelligent, self-motivated minions, or simple ones, and why?

You’ll need to use highly-intelligent minions if you wish to defeat the good guys, which is highly unlikely, especially with the likes of Hercules, and the Avengers, waiting in the wings to save the earth.

Kev's response: True, hordes of simple minions are defeated so easily.

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I do think there will still be a market for paper books, but e-books will probably dominate the industry sooner rather than later. Even though I have a Kindle and also read e-books on my IPhone, it’s the paperback version of my novel that is prominently displayed on my coffee table.

Kev's response: Aye, but I'm betting that's more pride in your accomplishment. I do the same, I've got 7 novels on my coffee table in the living room, but the only reason is to feel good about where I've gotten. I've noticed that I don't care much where I keep other novels, once I've read them.

What are your current projects?

I am currently writing “The Briton and the Dane: Concordia,” which will be available in 2013.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Spell check the manuscript one final time before it goes to print. Find a professional illustrator to create your book cover, since book covers can help sell a book. Research your options before committing to a POD publishing house. Develop a marketing plan to get your titles “out there.”

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books?)

Readers are welcome to visit:!/BritonandDane

Purchase information:


Kev's response: Mary Ann, good fortune on your writing, and the continuation of your Briton and the Dane series!

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