Tuesday, August 31, 2010

QA with Liv Bergen from In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Today I am pleased to welcome Liv Bergen, the smart, tough protagonist from In the Belly of Jonah. If you haven't already done so, please read my last two posts; one is the book trailer and the second is my full review of In the Belly of Jonah. These will give a small taste of who Liv is and 
the world in which she lives in.

If you have already read the other posts, then enjoy getting to know Liv! 
I hope you like her as much as I did.

Welcome Liv!

1. You have a very interesting and unique career, not one that many 
know too much about. 
Could you tell us a little about what you do?

I am a miner.  Not a gold miner like we often imagine spitting chaw through his teeth while panning for gold in the creeks and not an underground miner where they tunnel underground like Gopher on Winnie the Pooh.  The type mining we do is non-metallic surface mining.  In other words, we find layers of minerals that are close to the surface, remove the layer, and then reclaim the land as we move along that layer.  We do concurrent reclamation, which means we reclaim as we mine.  It's kind of like eating the top layer off a birthday cake and re-frosting it before your mother finds out!  If she didn't know better from the shorter cake, she would never know we'd eaten that layer.  AND we have the artistic freedom to decorate the cake even prettier than it was before.  My favorite flavor cake is high calcium limestone, which can be used for roads, foundations, animal feeds, water filtration and purification, air quality improvement as a scrubber for sulfur dioxide, stabilizing acidic soils, and even for purifying sugar in the beat manufacturing process.  That's right.. I mine limestone for the sugar industry.  

2. You come from quite a big family. Do you use your experience as a member of a large family to help you be the boss you are? Wrangling in the troops, so to speak?

My experience as the seventh of nine children certainly helped hone my managerial skills.  The picture that first came to mind when you asked the question was a time when I was about six years old and my siblings had encircled a skunk, closing in with slow, steady steps, until we trapped it under a box.  We had confused the skunk so much, it didn't think to spray us (although my dad wasn't as fortunate when he lifted the box later to release the poor thing).  My siblings taught me the power of teamwork, the importance of communication and establishing a shared vision, and most importantly, learning how to disagree while remaining compassionate and loving each other at the end of every unpredictable day.  They also taught me the importance of individuality and not losing yourself in a large crowd.  Without individual contributions, teams collapse under the weight of the unproductive.  As a boss, I applaud individual contribution to a shared vision of the team.   

3. What advice would you give to a young woman about to head out into the world? Did you have any strong role models who helped you become the tough woman you are today?

My strongest role models are most certainly my parents.  As a woman, my Irish Catholic mother, Jeanne Kiara Bergen, embodies the all-American immigrant and the spirit of the Dakotas.  Strong yet feminine, tough yet resilient,organized yet serendipitous, task-oriented yet willing to drop everything for those in need.  Oddly, even though my dad taught me everything I know about business, it's my mother who taught me how to be a woman in a man's industry.  Advice I would give a woman today would have to be the lessons I learned watching my mother raise nine children:  1) Work hard and do whatever everyone else refuses to do... joyfully, 2) Be grateful, 3) Be yourself because everyone else is taken, and 4) Be a bumble bee (you know, the whole scientific experts saying bees are no aerodynamically designed to fly, but bees don't know it, so they go ahead an fly anyway... don't let anyone tell you that you can't).
4. What attracts you to the landscape of Colorado?  Would you ever live any where else?

I love the Rocky Mountains!  Who doesn't?  But the truth is, I didn't choose Colorado.  I chose to follow my passion, which was mining, and was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to work at the mine on the foothills of the Rockies.  Wherever I'm needed, I will gladly call the next place home.  As my younger brother Jens says, "Have bags, will travel."  Keep in mind, in our industry, we have to go where the good Lord put the minerals and of course, most of the best geological deposits are in remote, isolated locations, far from areas where our ancestors tended to settle when they moved West.  They tended to curse rocks and move toward water and farm ground.  There's some good mines and great people where you're from... maybe I can pursue something in Minnesota?   I'm thinking for the time being, though, I want to stay put in Fort Collins... after all, it's close to Denver, CO, where Streeter Pierce works at the FBI. 
5. Living in and around such beauty and working hard all week, how would you describe your perfect day off?

Hard to believe, but the perfect day off for me starts with an awesome morning.  I love to wake up early and enjoy a great cup of coffee, a good cardio work out, like running outside in any weather, and an awesome breakfast... like steak and eggs or a meatloaf sandwich.   When a day starts out like that, it's always perfect!    II love going to movies and to dinner, but I'd prefer not to go alone.  At home, I turn on the television or music, but I do it for the noise, since I grew up being used to lots of people.  I don't do 'alone' all that well, so I'm thinking about getting a dog or a roommate.   Unless you have some thoughts for me on a single man who would put up with all my idiosyncrasies. 

6. Being a strong, independent woman, how would we know if we ticked off Liv Bergen? What's your tell?

Oh, dear!  You ask tough questions!  I hate to say it, but I have a terrible problem with swearing.  Mostly I swear out of habit and when I'm really scared or shocked.  I have tried the New Year's Resolution thing, the rubber band around my wrist to snap every time I swear, the quarter in the jar, EVERYTHING and I still have trouble breaking the habit.  As far as when I get ticked off, I think it would be easy to tell.  I pace.  Alot.  I've worn out many steel-toed boots pacing back and forth when I'm ticked off, fists slammed on my hips.  Not very attractive, huh?  But I really try to do that in the privacy of my office or home when no one can see me.  It doesn't happen often and it takes quite a bit to tick me off, but when I do, watch out.  What ticks me off the most is bullies.  With a bully, I'm a buzz saw. 

Thank you, Liv!

Be sure to check out Sandra Brannan's website here for more info on her book tour and 
where you can buy the book!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Gina said...

Great interview! Wow...a miner? Who'd have thought! Oh and her choice of living space...the Rocky Mountains.....I can definitely see why Colorado drew her in. The mountains are beautiful any time of year, but fall...Mother Nature has her paint brush out.
Thanks for sharing...and happy reading!

Marissa said...

I hope everyone gives Liv a shot like we did! She's quite the sleuth! Thanks, as always, for the post.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome interview.
I love 2 & 4 of her advice!

Ryan said...

What a terrific interview. I must say that I have to respect a girl that's willing to be a bumble bee and eat meatloaf sandwiches for breakfast. I'm intrigued enough to someday want to meet her and see her in action.