The Cruelty

So back in 2014, I had heard about a book, The Cruelty, by new writer Scott Bergstrom. I figured, why not yanno….new writers don’t become old writers unless we read their stuff. And the title intrigued me, so I figured I would give it a try.

The Cruelty

The Cruelty – an intriguing novel that introduces us to Gwendolyn Bloom. When her father vanishes, she sets off on a journey she never bargained for. Traveling under a new identity in a world of assassins, spies, and criminal masterminds, she uncovers a disturbing truth. To bring her father back alive, she must become every bit as cruel as the men holding him captive.

I am so very glad that I took a chance on a new author. This book held my attention which is not the easiest thing to do. My mind is always racing, so I have a tendency to read 2 books at once, so that there is always something to switch to; not this time. I read this book, alone, and surprised myself.

Fast forward to 2017. Mr. Bergstrom was going to be in Naperville and I was super excited to meet him. Well, some life happened and I wasn’t able to attend the reading and book signing. However, Mr. Bergstrom agreed to answer a few questions for me about being a writer. Can I tell you how super stoked I was? Man listen… could have knocked me over with a noodle. I was seriously fan-girling. Anyways, I’d like to share with you a few pieces of our conversation…..


Scott Bergstrom

HM: When/how did you know you wanted to write for a living?
SB: When I was in seventh grade, I was failing almost every class, even English–an awkward situation for the son of an English teacher. Then I received a class assignment to write an eight-page story. To me, it seemed impossible. But as soon as I started writing, I fell in love with it. Creating characters, inventing a plot, all of it woke up something inside me. My teacher, Fred Marfell, became a mentor, and later, a close friend. He altered the lives of many, many students over the years, and he’s missed by all of us. 


HM: Does you family have a writing background? A parent, a sibling, etc?
SB: My father was an English teacher, and both my parents were avid readers. There were always books around the house–classics, mystery novels, spy stories, science fiction–every kind of book imaginable. All of us always had a book handy. I was very privileged to have both my parents encourage my love of writing, which began as a love of reading.


HM: How did this book come together for you? What was your inspiration for the topic?
SB: I was taking a train from Berlin to Prague, and found myself standing in the corridor, staring at a handle for the emergency brake. I wondered, what would happen if someone pulled it? Suddenly, the specifics of the plot started coming together. Why would someone pull it? What would happen afterward? That scene–Gwen pulling the emergency brake–is still right in the middle of the book. Everything before it and after it started there.  

 HM: I would like to know your thoughts on handling negative responses to your writing from the writers standpoint. What do you do to not let it stop you from moving forward with your craft?
SB: Criticism is always tough, but it is also constructive. Sometimes we agree with the criticism, but even when we don’t, it nevertheless provides an author with a reader’s perspective. Peoples’ opinions are always valid, and it’s something we can take account of in the future.

HM: What tips do you have for aspiring writers who want their own words on paper, i.e. choosing/trusting an editor; who to submit to for review?
SB: The best tip I can give is: keep going, no matter what. Many writers I know, myself included, received countless rejections before their first “yes.”  Sometimes, a book just isn’t ready yet. Other times, it’s because it’s just not the right fit for a particular agent or publisher. Workshops and trusted readers who will critique your work honestly were indispensable for me in improving my writing. Though it can be very, very hard, there’s no substitute for perseverance. Not only in researching agents and sending queries, but getting your manuscript in the best shape you can make it.   
This interview was a HUGE deal for me, and I am forever grateful for Mr. Bergstrom agreeing to it. As I said, I LOVED The Cruelty, and I think you will too.
Now, with that being said, I have a question for you – as a teen, could you endure traveling the globe to save your parent?
2 lucky commenters will receive a signed copy of The Cruelty. Winners will be announced on Sunday, April 23rd.
Disclosure: I received the 2 books in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

18 Responses to The Cruelty

  1. Kari Wagner says:


    By the way, it’s REALLY hard for a book to hold my attention too so maybe I should check this out.

  2. Sarah Parisi says:

    Sounds interesting! I’m adding this to my “to read” list. Great interview!

  3. Penny Snyder says:

    I absolutely would travel the globe to save my parent!!~

  4. susan smoaks says:

    i would love to travel when i was a teen. my family didn’t get to travel much but it does sound amazing.

  5. Debbi Wellenstein says:

    Sure, I would have traveled the world to save my parent!

  6. Thomas Gibson says:

    I wish I would of traveled internationally when I was younger. Now I get to enjoy traveling in my mind by reading great authors such as yourself about their travels even if it is fiction.

  7. Cynthia Steyer says:

    As a teen, I don’t know that I could endure traveling the globe to save your parent? As someone who at 40 still gets very nervous when travelling to new places, I just don’t know that I could have coped as a teen with world travel. It sounds like a great book, though, where the teen is much, much braver than me lol!! Thanks for the great info!

  8. Jo Brock says:

    It would have been beneficial for me as a teen to travel around the world. We really only took vacations around the U.S., but also one time to Canada – Niagara Falls.

  9. Donna L says:

    I would love to travel the globe.

  10. Laurie Emerson says:

    If it meant saving my parent I could see myself enduring traveling the globe even as a teen.

  11. accontests6 says:

    I would have, absolutely.

  12. Daniel M says:

    sure as a teen, now that i’m older nope

  13. Dynal Roberson says:

    I think I could have. I know I would have loved to travel at least.

  14. Sammantha D. says:

    Most definitely! I did a lot of traveling as a teenager and would have loved to do more.

  15. Tim Moss says:

    I’ve never flown so I can’t really say. As a teen, probably. World seemed less dangerous then.

  16. Denise S says:

    Yes, I think I would do that to save my parent.

  17. James coyne says:

    I never liked to travel

  18. Loretta Thomas says:

    I’m not a teen but would have traveled the globe to save my parents. This books sounds like an awesome read and my teen granchildren would enjoy as well.

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