The Language of Letters
Bestselling author Elizabeth Berg to speak up for Adult Literacy League at fundraiser on April 20.
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg headlines the 9th annual “Reading between the Wines” Adult Literacy League of Central Florida fundraiser, presented by Bank of America, at Orlando Science Center on April 20 from 6-9 p.m. Berg, author of The Dream Lover—chosen by USA Today reviewers as one of 10 books that made a “lasting impression” in 2015—will speak and sign books at the event, celebrated for its generous food and wine offerings by some of Orlando’s top restaurants (see details at end of this story).
Berg spoke to Orlando magazine about her involvement in the literacy event:
OMag: Why is appearing at the Reading Between the Wines event important to you?
EB: It's important to call attention to the fact that illiteracy is a still a problem—not only illiteracy, but the problem of shame associated with it. Teaching a person to read is thrilling, and the kind of empowerment and pleasure it offers is inestimable.
OMag: You were a nurse and a waitress before you became a bestselling author. How did those professions help to lead you, ultimately, to a career as an author?
EB: Being a waitress was a good lesson in humility and was a way to see the spectrum of personality—the kind and generous people at one end, the demanding, demeaning and cheap ones at the other. Being a nurse taught me the resilience of the human spirit, and also what seems to matter most in people's lives. But to answer your question more specifically, I think writers are born, and not made. There is something inside them that compels them to the craft. So whatever you do before you become a writer contributes to your art, whether it's driving a truck or being a housewife and mother or being an advertising executive or a singer in a band.
Omag: What is your writing process like?
EB: I write intuitively. I don't plot. I believe in letting the book or story tell me, not the other way around. I like to start with the tiniest of things: a title, a character, a thought about a social issue or a memory, and take it from there.
Omag: Of all the many books you've written, do you have a favorite and, if so, why?
EB: My favorite is Durable Goods, because I think it came closest of all my books to realizing my original intention. And it's fun to read!
Omag: What inspires you?
EB: Oh my goodness, everything. A garage sale. Ice cream dripping down a kid's chin. An act of kindness. The disharmony in families. The newspaper. Poetry. LIFE.
Omag: What inspired you to pen a historical novel about 19th century French writer George Sand, and what was the greatest challenge you encountered in the writing?
EB: I read a bit about her life on The Writer's Almanac. That little biographical paragraph suggested that George Sand was an incredibly complicated and contradictory personality. I wanted to get to know her, in the way that you do when you write about people, particularly if you are writing in first person. The greatest challenge was to provide authenticity of time and place and language and, most of all, of character. I wanted to show what I imagined to be the great vulnerability in a woman who is generally regarded as being so strong as to be nearly invincible.
Omag: If you had one piece of advice for aspiring writers who want to meet you at the Reading Between the Wines event, what would that be be?
EB: Listen to the advice of others but, most of all, listen to yourself. And remember: writers write!
Reading Between the Wines guests will enjoy food samplings by Swine & Sons, 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant and Morimoto Asia of Disney Springs, Urban Tide at Hyatt Regency Orlando, and Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen at Walt Disney World Resort. Darden Restaurants and its suppliers and PRP Wine International will provide wines to pair with the food. A silent auction will feature items ranging from airline and theme park tickets to resort spa and golf packages. All event proceeds will support Adult Literacy League (ALL) programs and services designed to build a literate community. ALL provides one-to-one tutoring and classes to more than 1,000 adults on a weekly basis, plus books and learning materials to 600 preschoolers in low-income families each year.
Individual tickets are $85; a $600 Connoisseur’s Table includes four event tickets, a reserved cocktail table, two gift bottles of wine and recognition as a sponsor in the event program. Visit adultliteracyleague.org. To purchase tickets to Reading between the Wines call 407/422-1540, ext. 111 or click here.