The Consequence of Stars: A Memoir of Home, Revised Edition (Author Interview)

Looks like a great book!  What can you tell us about it?

The Consequence of Stars: A Memoir of Home spawned from essays I wrote for the literary journal Longshot Island entitled “The Runaway,” and “Guitar Heroes” published in Under the Gum Tree. I started considering how the road of life shapes our concept of “home.” What is home? A place? A state of mind? I began writing about this in its various forms and in time had collected several linked essays that related—tightly and loosely—to that idea. We all have our own version of home—the physical place, and the emotional one. This is about finding that place. One might call it a soulful travelogue.

In essence, the book is a mosaic of the experience of searching for one's place in the world, a kind of travelogue of the heart. I write about a solo and revealing cross-country train ride, a spiritual awakening in the Navajo Nation, performs music with Jack Kerouac groupies at the writer's former Florida home, and hunts for the ghost of Hemingway in the attic of the famous writer's birthplace home. He revisits his parent's lifelong love affair with their hometown and one another despite life-threatening odds and sets out to build a Thoreau-like writer's shed, hoping to discover an artistic space and an artist's home. In the book's newest essays, he explores how a new life resurrects the spirit, and how creative longing produces a spiritual awakening.


What has changed in the revised edition?

The first edition was with a previous publisher who experienced financial issues. I was able to re-establish the publishing rights. This new edition includes a new introduction and two new essays. “She Discovered the Sky” and “Leaving Laugharne” were previously published on the Susbtack newsletter, The Abundance.


What motivated you to write the book?

(See the above first question) 

I also wanted to write about my sister who died tragically, and it took me a long time to find the emotional wherewithal to do that. There is an essay in this collection about her and that familial connection to home.


How did you come up with the title for the book?

The Consequence of Stars came from what it means to wish on a star. When you do, what are the consequences of those wishes? Your wishes, your dreams are not only just that, a wish, but also have “consequences.” When you wish for a place in the world, do you get it? And if you don’t, what do you do? What are the consequences? It’s about what happens when you get what you wish for, or do not get what you wish for.

What trends do you see in your genre/topic and where do you think the industry is heading?

There’s so much going on in the industry. It’s, in many ways, the Wild West. There are great opportunities but at the same time the gatekeeping at the big publishers has become more stringent. I believe some of the classics of the 1940s or 1950s may not have been traditionally published today. They would be too risky for a publishing industry that’s struggling. On the Road, for instance, would be self-published today. I truly believe that.

I champion many of the small publishers, but they, too, are hanging on and in many ways do it out of the love of the written word. They’ll take more risks, it seems. Most are not doing it to make millions, that’s for sure.

Self-publishing will continue. And it has improved in scope and content, although there are still many self-published books that are poorly written, edited, and designed. It’s getting better, however. But genre is important. Fantasy, thriller, suspense, etc. seem to do OK for skilled self-publishers. A book of essays? Not likely to do well. So, self-publishing or hybrid publishing is great for some authors, not so for others.


How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books are you similar too?

I would rather have others describe my style. The reader/reviewer is the ultimate voice on this.

Some quotes from reviews of “Stars” and other books:

"A writer with an enormous sense of humanity." —San Francisco Review of Books

"Berner has a no-holds-barred writing style. Raw, honest, confessional. He's a master storyteller." -—Geralyn Hesslau Magrady, author of Lines

"Berner tells each story with such stunning and packed detail that it kept this reader in awe."

Goodreads Review


The writing style is impeccable." —International Review of Books


Publishers Weekly— "Berner's plainspoken manner reveals moments of true enlightenment.”


"Lyrical, philosophical, poetic.” —Chicago Book Review


What challenges did you overcome in the writing this book? 

It was difficult writing about my deceased sister. I might not call that a “challenge” perse, but it took some time to get me in the right frame of mind. Also, there was research into family matters that had to be explored. In all, though, writing this was joyful. It was wonderful to consider my long journey of searching.


If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

I believe memoir and personal narrative work when the story is relatable, when the reader can put themselves in the writer’s world and find their own world. I think this book does that. Who doesn’t want to find that physical or metaphorical “home?” We are all searchers in a way. It’s what we do as humans. There is strong connective tissue there. I think readers would find my stories very much like their own, and at the same time take them to places in the world they may have never been. In many ways, The Consequence of Stars is a travelogue, a travelogue of the soul and heart.


Where can readers find out more about your work?






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