1. Your first novella is out. In reading it, I couldn't help but wonder how you came up with the mother daughter dynamics.
Well, PRECISE is actually the second book in the Pulling Me Under series. I got to know Rochelle, who is the main character, Katie’s mom years ago. She didn’t start out as crazy. But as I got to know the story, I knew that Katie had become such a damaged person because of how she sees the world. From there I just continued backstepping: how would Katie learn her habits, how did she become to live in such a state that she felt she wasn’t worthy of any attention or allowed to express herself? Questions like that.
It always came back to Katie’s childhood. Parents have the biggest influence on how a person grows up to cope with difficulties in life and with a dad that is a “silent” figure in the family, Rochelle as the deranged mother was a fantastic character to write. With the more scenes I wrote, the crazier her obsession with power became.
2. Why did you decide to write literary fiction? What intrigues you? Is it exploring relationships or delving into a warped mind?
Yes to both of those last questions!
When I started writing I had no idea what the genre was. I hopped from calling it a thriller to general fiction to women’s fiction to romance. I kept going nowhere. But once I started chatting about my manuscript with another writing friend, I discovered this series wasn’t genre fiction but a book that explored damaged people and damaged relationships and how it can get better, if at all. That’s when I realised that was literary fiction.
And that was also the moment I laughed at myself for being a “literary” writer. Nowadays, I know that stigma is what people stick on literary fiction when, like me, they don’t get what the point is. Literary isn’t fancy writing, but it delves deeper into a certain aspect of humanity than genre fiction does.
3. You're an editorial assistant. What is it like and what do you do?
I’m blessed that my work is more “editorial” than “assistant”. In fact, in my role I lead updates of non-fiction book products, briefing the authors on what content to update, editing the text, managing the project of the update, doing all the admin work. It’s gratifying being able to know a product is out there in the best shape because of my efforts to make the author’s work shine.
4. When you write your first draft, how do you turn off your inner editor?
You really gimme the hard questions, Clare. Though, I’m going to go against the “said” word about writing first drafts. As an editor, aspects like run on sentences, comma placement, formatting, grammar, sporadic adjective usage, etc are a constant buzz in my mind.
The way I make myself write first drafts is like this:
Write the “cleanest” draft you can without wasting time analysing words or phrases and write as fast as possible.
So I balance, really. My brain is working like mad, trying to think forward if certain parts will be edited out later anyway, mixed with the other half of my brain telling me to just write what comes to mind.
5. What's next? How do you see your writing career progressing?
Book two, PULLING ME UNDER, was written a while ago, before PRECISE, so the next year is going to be big for me in a couple senses. One, I plan to publish two more books, making my first year publishing with three books out. Two, my second two books are going to be novels. Now that my audience have tasted my fiction for a steal of a price and a quick read, I want to give them *more*.
This book, PRECISE, is literary fiction; book two in the Pulling Me Under series is a literary suspense; and my third book to be published will be a romance, still deciding whether contemporary or literary.
I want to be a diverse author, but still have a logline. My fiction is about characters and breaking them apart and seeing how they manage to fix up the huge disasters that occur to them. I love writing about relationships whether they be platonic or romantic. That’s what will never change in my writing career. I want to push myself further than I think I can go and publish stories about characters who are torn apart and broken, and how they come back together.
Rebecca Berto writes stories that straddle the line between Literary and Tear Your Heart Out. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional when reading her stories, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.
Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and their doggy.