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Interview With Author James Burk

Tell us about what you have written.

Both fantasy and science fiction and just plain strange.  HIGH RAGE, my first novel was a fantasy with a sort of anti-hero.  HOME IS THE HUNTER was science fiction about a truly faceless assassin.  THE TWELVE is another fantasy about a city-state governed by archetypes.
What inspired you to write those things?

I’m not really sure.  I do seem to have a theme going in my novels, though not in my short stories, about people with strange scars on their faces, masks, or no faces at all.

Do you have a favorite thing that you’ve ever written?

It’s always the next one.

Do you have a favorite character that you write about?

If so, who is it, what makes it your favorite and tell us about the character.  I like doing different characters but was very fond of Scarface, the protagonist of HIGH RAGE.  He was a character with a code but was hard enough to roller-skate on and he grows and develops.

Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?

The list is a long one so I’ll cut it down to three; Roger Zelazny, John Crowley, and Walter R. Brooks, who gave me my first glimpse of the power of good writing.

How long have you been writing?

Forty-eight years.

When did you start writing?

I started writing at age eighteen.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written?

Probably a short story called “The Trailer Park Vampire Meets the Bubba Yumbie,” which appeared in INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF BUBBAS ans was reprinted in THE BEST OF THE BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE.  I just wanted to have fun bending the vampire cliché into pretzels.

Some authors have said that their parents were supportive of their efforts when young, and some have said they had to sneak around and hide. What was

the case with you?

Neither.  My mother was very supportive of my becoming an artist but I became more fascinated by writing.  A painting is a very precise snapshot but a piece of writing is a movie.

Who drives the story, you or your characters?

I think the characters do.

Who proofreads and critiques your work?

My editors.  I may try out some materials on friends but generally do my own proofing and can generally tell when I’ve hit the mark I’ve aimed at.  Whether the mark was worth the ammunition is up to the editor and readers to decide.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are cheap, the tough part is execution.  In some cases, just musing about some odd thing or other.

Where do you write?

Almost anyplace I can carry a pen and a notebook.  All my first drafts are written in longhand.

When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?

Pretty much as the mood strikes and it’s also a matter of having (or not having) a computer with which I can put the work in form fit for submission.

If you could take a character from someone else’s book on a date, who would it be and where would you take him/her/it?

I’d prefer never to do that.  I think it’s a matter of respect for the integrity of the character and his or her author.

If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?

Most of them.  Most writers I know are good company.

Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?

A little of each, and sometimes you need to research in more depth than the internet can really provide.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Build models, shoot guns, and party.

Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block?

I think sometimes but I usually force my way through it.  I have a bigger problem finding something I really want to say that hasn’t already been said before.

Who’s your favorite author (other than yourself)?

If I could only choose one, it would probably be Roger Zelazny, who could toy with the language and make it work.  He sprinkled his work liberally with poetry and humor and planted insights like depth charges.  They drop below the surface, then, below, POW!

What’s your favorite book (other than one of your own)?

THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de St-Exupery, because he discusses life, death, love, friendship, and all the things that make life worth living without ever being preachy but with the air of someone who honestly wants to share and enjoy an insight with you and he did it all in less than a hundred pages.

What’s the last book, other than your own, that you read and really enjoyed?

Right now I’m reading SAINT MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON, which is non-fiction and is the remembrances of a French paratrooper of the berets rouges, the Colonial Paras.

Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?

I don’t think so.  I think it’s like riding a bicycle – you never really forget.

If you could be any character (other than one of your own) from a book or movie who would it be?

Not really.  It’s taken me over sixty years to become comfortable with who I am.  Why start over?

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I’m enjoying the questions and a little amused that someone might think that I would think my stuff would be the best I’d read.

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Posted by on Feb 16 2011. Filed under Authors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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