JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
David Berger, author of Task Force: Gaea — Finding Balance
Task Force: Gaea twists Greek myths people read growing up, challenging in curious ways what the reader knows, or thinks he knows, about the Olympian gods.
The book opens after Zeus and the gods have defeated the Titans, and Zeus is establishing Olympos with his brothers and sisters. An error in his judgment sets events in motion that cascade into the future. Prophecies emerge that talk about four mortals who will set right that which Zeus has done, but that won’t happen right away.
Apollo, the Shining One, upsets his father, Zeus, who then banishes him to earth as a mortal—and Apollo’s journey feeds into what eventually happens to fulfill the prophecy. Four mortals do indeed rise to the challenge, and they have the inconceivable task of finding balance once again between order and chaos.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write Task Force: Gaea — Finding Balance?
David Berger: A few places, actually. As a child, I fell in love with Greek myths, so I would read any books on them that I could. I then discovered comic books, and superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman began to inspire me, especially when I discovered that Wonder Woman had her origins in Greek myth—I was then hooked on fantasy.
Other authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, and Marion Zimmer Bradley also fueled the fire. So, when I was in high school, I wrote a short story called “The Olympus Corps.,” a Star Trek-meets-Olympus type story that eventually became Task Force: Gaea. I abandoned the outer space milieu for one more earthbound as well as focused more on the classic hero’s journey. Inspiration has come from so many sources: comic books, novels, friends, family, and my desire to tell a story.
JP: What sets Task Force: Gaea — Finding Balance apart from other books in the same genre?
DB: When an Olympian god becomes human, he has to relearn how to live, not simply how to exist, in the world, especially in human form, with all the flaws and gifts that flesh and blood give him. When we, too, are thrust into circumstances beyond our control, we have to adapt to our new surroundings or falter. No matter where we go, we have always been human, with mortal sensibilities and an awareness of our weaknesses.
What makes this novel distinctive is that it gives the reader insight into a god’s mind, and how he has to learn about human failings as well as triumphs—as a human for the first time. And Olympos will never be the same.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to Task Force: Gaea — Finding Balance getting out to the public?
DB: I measure success differently than some might. Publishing the novel with a price attached obviously means I’d like it to sell well, but I don’t expect to retire early from teaching because my novel becomes popular. I just wanted to get my story out there because I believe it’s one people should read. It’s engaging and fun, but it’s also a little didactic, helping people to learn about the intricacies of the myths, and my twists on them, by making them aware that these stories have cultural complexity.
My mark of success is being published and read, and right now, that’s happening, after 27 years of working on this novel. Awards and best seller lists would be wonderful, but that’s not the reason I write.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish Task Force: Gaea — Finding Balance?
DB: My process has no defined parameters, actually. I’m more mercurial that way, but I do write best in public settings: bookstores, cafés, etc. The background noise somehow keeps me focused.
Being a teacher, though, the only real time I have is summer to devote large chunks of my schedule to writing, so I squeeze in more time when I can throughout the year. This novel, from start to finish, if you count the short story I wrote in high school as the seed, took around 25 years.
JP: What’s next for David Berger?
DB: I’m working on the sequel now, and I’d like it to be finished by December 2012, but that might be a little ambitious. This one won’t take 25 years. I’m also working on a project, Write for the Cure, where I will be writing and compiling short fiction works from other writers having to do with cancer, either a patient, caregiver, or just a loved one. The proceeds would go to cancer research. This project is still in its infancy, but I am working on getting the authors together as we speak.
I will be at a number of events in the coming months, including a book festival in Odessa, TX on Oct. 6, 2012, Necronomicon in St. Petersburg, FL on Oct. 26 – 28, 2012 as well as BentCon in Los Angeles, CA on Nov. 31 – Dec. 2, 2012. More information for each will be on my blog.