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Ice baths, stalkers and hot chocolate... author Jenna van Berke answers 10 questions

If you like quick reads in the form of romantic suspense novellas, then Jenna van Berke is your go-to author. She recently released Dark Nights, book two in the Northern Nights series. It tells the story of a stalker who is willing to go to great lengths in pursuit of his obsession. Jenna took the time to answer questions to help us get to know her better:

1. You write romantic suspense stories. Is that your chosen genre or are you planning to try your hand at others?

I also write romance without suspense. I’ve been writing some steamy stuff, but I like to experiment, so what I’m working on right now is rather on the sweet side. What my stories all have in common is some sort of multi-cultural element.

2. Dark Nights is set against such a vivid snowy landscape, which makes the story of the stalker so much darker. What inspired you to write it?

I chose the setting because I moved to Finland myself several years ago, and the country still fascinates me. As to the story itself, it’s fiction, but I did have a weird encounter with a guy once which I used as an inspiration. I met him through friends and we got along well at first. Then he made a move, and I turned him down, but he couldn’t seem to accept that. He told me some really strange things and once I saw him hanging out in front of my door in the middle of the night. So, it wasn’t as extreme as in the book, but it was definitely creepy.

3. Have you ever done the sauna and swim in freezing water activity described in the book? If yes, what was that like?

Yes, and I felt pretty much the same way as Lola does in the book. I was just standing there in front of that dark hole in the ice for a moment and thought, ‘Why would I want to go in there? This is crazy!’ But then my curiosity won. So I climbed down that ladder and it was terribly cold. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, so I really had to force myself to go all the way. But then I got out and after a second I was like ‘Wow. I want to do it again.’ It’s an incredible feeling.

4. Which country would you like to live in, if you could, and why?

I’ve been asking myself the same question for years and I don’t have an answer. I’ve travelled to some beautiful places, but traveling is not the same as living. Somewhere warm with a beach, that’s for sure!

5. You are a very prolific writer of shorter books. Why is that?

I wouldn’t really call myself prolific, but I’m working on it.As to the length of my books: I don’t know, it just comes naturally to me. I’m actually aiming to write longer books, and I’m working on that, too, but I also don’t want to stuff meaningless extra content into a book just to make it longer. So if I feel like I’ve said everything I wanted to say, and the story is only 20k words, then so be it. 6. Hot chocolate or wine?

Hot chocolate.

7. Name some books on your bookshelf. Do you have a favourite author and what do you like about him or her? 

My bookshelves hold everything from James Clavell to Zadie Smith,T.C Boyle to Khaled Hosseini, Anne Rice, Salman Rushdie, Gillian Flynn, Kipling, Orwell, then there’s Harry Potter, the Hunger Games and so on. There are so many great books, I can’t settle on a single author, but when it comes to romance, I really admire Nora Roberts. She’s just a master storyteller.

8. What is the scariest thing/activity that you've ever done?

Once I was traveling somewhere in Costa Rica, I was on the way to some remote village. But it was rainy season, and the river we were supposed to cross had flooded the bridge, so the bus couldn’t go any further. So we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, and it was getting dark. There was this local guy on the bus who was headed to the same destination and said he knew another way to get there, so we decided to follow him. We were hiking for a while until we got to another bridge. It was a small thing made of rope and wooden planks, and though it wasn’t flooded, the rain had done its damage: Some planks were missing; the wood was wet and slippery, and it just didn’t look trustworthy, especially considering there was this raging river underneath, which was probably home to crocodiles that might just eat you if you didn’t drown first. So it was either cross that rickety bridge carrying our heavy backpacks, or spend the night somewhere in the wet jungle. The local guy went first, and the bridge didn’t collapse, so I strapped my backpack tight, took a deep breath, and followed him, clutching on to the handrails. Well, I’m still alive to tell you nobody drowned or got eaten by crocodiles that night, but it was pretty scary.

9. What qualities do you like in a romantic hero?

I like variety in characters, so I’ll only say this: What I don’t like in a romantic hero is if he’s macho in a patronising way. A severe power imbalance is not romantic and it’s something I don’t enjoy reading.

10. What are you currently working on and by when can your fans expect it?

I’m currently working on a second-chance romance called Watching Him, but I don’t have a release date yet.

Thank you, Jenna, and good luck with the release of your next book!

Jenna van Berke's books are available on these platforms:

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