By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
REGION – While New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg has published almost forty books, she admits to having a personal affection for one of her characters, Arthur Truluv, aka Arthur Moses. A prequel to the Arthur Truluv series will be coming out in March and focuses on his life as a teenager.
Drawn to Massachusetts early in life
While living in Minnesota in the early years of her marriage, Elizabeth felt a pull to Massachusetts. She had always felt it to be the prettiest place to live. Her husband got a job in Boston, and she resided in the Bay State for twenty years. She called Boston, Newton, Natick and Southborough her home for that period and loved the beauty that surrounded her. Her older daughter still lives here.
While in Massachusetts, she was a recipient of the “Literary Light” award from the Associates of the Boston Public Library. This award was anointed in 1996 and its purpose is to “keep the fire and art of writing alive.”
“In 1997, I was given an award by the New England Booksellers Association for fiction, nonfiction, children’s and editorial excellence for three of my published works: ‘Joy School,’ ‘Pull of the Moon’ and ‘Range of Motion.’ It’s always an honor to be recognized for your work,” said Berg.
New novel being released next spring
While Berg is currently working on a new novel, she is not ready to divulge anything about it yet. She is very excited for her next book that is coming out in March 2023.
“The impetus from my editor for this book was that she wanted me to write about how that character got to be the way he was,” she explained. “I don’t usually like to take suggestions about what to write but I have a particular affection for Arthur Truluv, too, so I thought that it would be interesting to see how he came to be such a kind and compassionate young man.
It’s called, ‘Earth’s the Right Place for Love,’ after the Robert Frost poem,” she noted. “The cover is just beautiful and speaks to what this book is about. I’m really proud of it.”
After completing that novel, Berg missed the feeling of the book’s message and went on to write two more. The new one will be the sixth in that series and takes place in the imaginary town of Mason, Missouri.
When asked about her writing process, she admitted to allowing things to unfold quite organically. She doesn’t go into a new project with any preconceptions about what the characters do and her process, in general, is highly intuitive. She thinks her readers would be surprised to learn that she does not plot.
Although Berg does a lot of public speaking, she describes herself as inherently shy and loves nature. She is a dog lover and truly enjoys the domestic side of life, including cooking, quilting and looking at houses (“I should actually be a realtor,” she added). She is an avid reader and describes her nightstand as a base for volumes of poetry books and novels to reside on.
“I always have eight to ten volumes of poetry on my nightstand, and I am currently reading ‘The Tender Bar’ by J. R. Moehringer. I have Anne Fadiman’s latest collection of essays with spillover in my bookcase of what I want to read next. I’m like an adolescent boy who keeps dropping a girl when a prettier one comes along,” she joked.
Starting on the path as a writer
Having had a career as a nurse for ten years, Berg got a lot of encouragement to write, something she had always done. When her daughters Julie and Jenny were ages four and nine, she entered a contest through Parents Magazine. She submitted an essay about taking the plunge to leave work and stay home with your children, something she wanted to do. She won and was encouraged to continue her craft.
“I guess I always thought to be a writer, you had to be a man and have a jacket that had elbow patches and you had to smoke a pipe. It just didn’t occur to me, that I, too, could do that for a living,” said Berg.
She had always wanted to meet two favorite authors, Anne Tyler and Alice Munro. She did actually meet Anne Tyler and express her admiration. “She was so grounded and charming. Meeting her was a dream come true,” said Berg.
In her free time, Berg enjoys spending time with family and friends. She loves walking in nature and around her town of Oak Park, Illinois to see what the citizenry is up to. “This is when you get to meet an interesting person, hear a snatch of conversation or see ordinary things that do not seem ordinary,” she explained.
Berg loves poetry and has a special affection for poet Dorianne Laux, who conveys that any good poem is asking you to slow down.
“It behooves all of us to take a moment and crystallize it. These seemingly simple lines on the page are so much more. Art is not what you see but what you make others see, a quote I am borrowing. I love that quote,” said Berg.