Person of Interest Interview – John Burris


1. Please introduce yourself.

Hi. My name is John Burris. It’s an interesting pleasure to do this interview. So here goes;

2. What do you write? Do you have a specific gene?

I write fiction primarily (though quite a while ago I wrote a piece for a magazine devoted to paleontology. That article was about science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer and contained a conversation he and I conducted via email. Basically, an interview much like this one fashioned into an article.) The great majority of my writing has been fiction, though. Genre? Horror would be the most accurate term, I suppose though some of my work ventures into dark fantasy and even a bit of sci fi. I rule nothing out in the future, though. I see the boundaries between genres as rather blurry around the edges, anyway. One bleeds into another.

3. What are you working on now?

I have a couple of projects in the works right now. I am primarily focused on finishing a final proofread of my novel “Brothers”, a story that is firmly within the horror genre. My protagonist, Michael, lost two brothers in his childhood under strange and disturbing circumstances. Many years later he is still coming to terms with the impact their deaths had on his family and, in an effort at self therapy, he has begun a written account of the events surrounding each of their deaths. Soon, however, he discovers that the malevolent entity that claimed their lives has returned to finish what it had started all those years ago. With his marriage in jeopardy, his job gone and his children in increasing peril, his only allies are his disabled sister and an embittered old acquaintance with his own scarred past. Faced with an enemy who cannot be reasoned with, harmed or satisfied, Michael fears that to save his remaining loved ones may very well require his own life.

The other project actually predates “Brothers.” It began as a fairly modest single novel but as the story progressed and took on a life of its own it grew into a manuscript of more than 180,000 words. Given its three part structure it seemed a trilogy of novels in the range of 60,000-80,000 words was a more effective way to tell the story. It is currently being refashioned somewhat to accommodate the 3 volume format. As with “Brothers” it is a horror story dealing with love, destiny, religion and werewolves. This is no Twilight, though. The T-word is anathema. Perish the thought!

4. When did you start writing?

When did I start writing? Well, I have always written. As a child, long before home video (yeah, I’m that old) I would write out the storylines to favorite movies such as King Kong, Frankenstein, etc. and type them up on an old typewriter I wish I still had as a keepsake. I occasionally wrote a short story and many, many years before beginning my werewolf epic I sketched out the basic storyline for a wolfman tale set in Portugal. Why Portugal? Far away and exotic sounding, I suppose. As the years went by I often journaled and from time to time would write a short story instead of a traditional journal entry. It was less than a decade ago, though, that I began to entertain the idea of applying myself seriously to writing. Looking back on those early works I have to conclude it’s a good thing I waited. I had to live a bit first and lose some innocence, so to speak, before I was truly ready to write. All things in their due time…

5. Where do you usually write?

I often write in public places like coffee shops or restaurants. The background hum becomes my white noise and there are actually fewer distractions than there are at home. It works for me. My werewolf epic (once titled The Blessing, by the way for ironic reasons that would become obvious upon reading the story) was largely written late at night, though, sitting on the couch with a movie playing lowly in the background. More white noise…

6. Did you self publish or go with a publisher and why?

To date none of my stories have seen official publication but I hope to change that soon. Self-publishing is an option but I want to avoid it if at all possible. There’s a lot of subpar work out there, frankly, that has been self-published and I would prefer to go the more traditional route. The world is changing, though, and publishing along with it. I know what I would like but I rule nothing out.

7. What advice do you have for other writers?

It seems to me that the best advice I could give to any aspiring writer is to be true to yourself. Write what you feel passionate about, what speaks to you. Write a book you would want to read. Don’t write for a particular market unless you are passionate about that market. Write honestly and do not compromise. My background and education is in the visual arts. As an art major in college I absorbed the maxim that it is an artist’s job not to look away. Whether it be violence, sex or whatever, do not pull back. Your reader will recognize the cheat and at that point you will lose them. Better that they be offended than bored or view you as lacking the courage of your convictions. In summary; write honestly.

8. Where do you hope your writing will take you in five years?

Where do I hope my writing will take me in five years? Well, fame and fortune would be nice. Or just the fortune. You can keep the fame. But more realistically, I would like to have several works in publication by then, perhaps enough to have earned a bit of money but more importantly to experience the gratification of having a friend in Seattle or New Mexico tell me they bought my latest in a store near them. I think that would be cool. And it would be nice to have people in places far away enjoy my stories. A little ego gratification? Sure. And what’s wrong with validation anyway? And to know that produced something of quality that means something to someone I’ve never met would be a nice feeling.

9. What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing I’m working at my day job. Or my part-time night job. Or hanging with my kids Evan and Gillian. Or at a punk rock show. Or reading about prehistoric animals. Or drawing them. Or watching a horror movie. Lots of them.

10. How do we find out more about you and about your book\writing?

Right now the best way to find about my work is to ask me. A web site and perhaps a blog is in my near future. Stay in touch for updates.


About Stacy Bender

Author of Ursa Kane and the Sav'ine series.
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