Monday, 11 May 2015

Elizabeth Chats With...Berni Stevens

Many people have commented on the beautiful cover on my novel Gorgito's Ice Rink and, as I had no hand in designing it, I'm happy to agree with them. My interviewee this month is the woman responsible for that cover - and for many other great designs on our bookshelves at the moment; she is also an author in her own right. I'm delighted to be chatting with Berni Stevens. 

What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?

My earliest memory is the first time I sat on a pony. I was three or four years old, and we were on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The pony was a fat little Shetland called Rosie (I still have the photo). I remember the feel of her soft coat against my bare legs, and I remember the man telling me she was called Rosie, and I should stroke her neck. It was love at first sight with Rosie – and it started a passion for horses and riding, which never went away.

What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?

At school I lived for Art and English. I hated games and PE. I had no confidence, couldn’t hit (or catch) a ball to save my life, and ran like a ‘girl!’ Yes I know I am a girl, but I trained in ballet, and tended to run as though doing jet├ęs. Not helpful when speed is of the essence. Oh – and I wasn’t too good at maths either.

If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?

Well, I’m working on the assumption that my husband would be able to get himself out of the fire … so I would take my cat, my external hard drive which holds all my archived work, and (probably) my jewellery! 

Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?

I would have to go with the fabulous Utah desert. I love the landscape, the canyons, the buttes, the colours, and of course – the heat! We’ve been going out there every year for fifteen years and still haven’t seen it all. This picture is of a hidden kiva (ancient Anasazi place of worship). What’s left of the kiva can be seen as a ring of stones - in the mouth of the cave. You can only get here by a steep, difficult – and in summer – very hot hike.  It’s in the Canyonlands National Park, Utah. (And that’s the only clue you get from me!)

If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?

I’d spend some of the time dancing, some of it galloping around on a horse (if possible), but most of the time would be spent with my husband and son – preferably watching the sun set over the Mittens in Monument Valley, Utah.

What would be in your ‘Room 101’?

That’s difficult … is it a big room?  Bullying car drivers – the ones in four-wheel drives, or other big expensive cars, who drive too close to small cars’ bumpers and intimidate other drivers on motorways. Include in this, the car drivers who are constantly on their mobile phones whilst driving.

If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?

Ah, anyone who knows me well, will be shouting out the answer to this right now! Of course it would have to be, Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Beautifully written, sharp, witty scripts that have you laughing one minute, and crying the next.  But I would have to be in a scene with Spike (James Marsters) … bliss!

What inspired you to write your own novel?

I used to design a lot of paranormal romance covers for Piatkus (when they were an independent publisher) and it’s always been a favourite genre of mine. All of the authors writing paranormal romance at that time, were American, so every story was set in the US. I decided to write a story set in London. Ironically, the first publisher interested was American! But the American paranormals tend to have a lot of rampant sex in them (mine doesn’t), and it didn’t do too well because of it. I have since been republished here in the UK with a different title.

Berni, thanks so much for taking the time to chat to me today. And I'll be in touch soon about the cover for novel number two!

Readers: you can find out more about Berni and see her wonderful portfolio of cover designs by clicking here and read her blog by clicking here. Her book, Dance Until Dawn can be found by clicking here. She can also be found on FaceBook and Twitter.


  1. Lovely to read more about you and find a kindred spirit as far as the dreaded school PE classes were concerned!

  2. Yes I shouted Duffy for you at that point in the interview . Knew you'd involve Spike as well! X

  3. Buffy! Blooming autocorrect

  4. I run like a girl too! Lots of arm flapping and elbow movement... We'd all watch you if you were in Buffy...and we'd hardly be looking at Spike at all. Much.

  5. Isn't it strange how when you love English and Art you're rubbish at maths. I'm talking about me, btw! Things in common, Berni. Love the Choc Lit covers. In fact, I think that was the first thing that caught my attention when browsing Choc Lit books. Then I read the blurbs of course ... Fab post, ladies. Thanks for sharing! :) xx

  6. I can certainly relate to the flapping of elbows and arms, Jane :) And that awful moment when the popular, sporty girls were choosing teams . . . I was always left until last!
    Thanks all you lovely ladies for commenting!
    And thanks, Elizabeth for hosting me on your blog!


    1. It was a pleasure to interview you Berni. Buffy, yes; Spike, definitely! Brought back so many memories - must see if there's a box set around.

  7. Great interview :-) I'm about to introduce my DD to Buffy ...

  8. With you on the favourite school subjects - except I could run ... away from the balls (cricket & tennis mostly)! Fab interview, great to get to know a little more about you, Berni!

  9. I really enjoyed reading this interesting interview – I loved art and English too. (And hated PE!) Thanks very much for sharing! :-)

  10. Elizabeth, you can buy a boxed set of Buffy (all seven series) from Amazon.
    I used to duck the balls, Linn :) It didn't help that our PE teacher was a sadist!

    Thanks everyone for the lovely comments.

  11. Great interview with some interesting gems - horses, Spike and Monument Valley. A short story, novel or a movie? (P.S. All of them key to my life...)

  12. Always interesting to get an insight into the life of an artist/writer/ballet dancer/horse rider. Lovely interview, Berni!