Interview with Rebecca Burns

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Unfortunately I was one of those precocious kids who knew very early on that they wanted to write. Probably my very early interest in books had something to do with it – I was born with dislocated hips and had long periods in plaster casts. Whilst other kids were toddling about and touching things they shouldn’t, I was stuck in a special chair (made by my granddad). I was entertained by books and learned to read at a very young age.

What genre do you write and why?

I write in the literary genre. Although I enjoy reading other genres, such as horror (can’t beat a bit of Stephen King – Salem’s Lot was the first book I read that made me sleep with the light on), and historical fiction (Hilary Mantel is a colossal talent), literary fiction is where I feel most comfortable. I love the understated delicacy of certain short story writers, like Anthony Doerr and David Malouf. If my work is ever to be compared to theirs, I think I’d faint.

Tell us about your latest book.

Catching the Barramundi is my debut collection of short stories and was recently longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Award, which is the UK’s only prize that recognizes short story collections. The stories in Barramundi deal with change – either sudden, unexpected change forced upon a character, or the gradual process of reassessment. The title story of the collection uses the metaphor of a barramundi to signal change and rupture – a barramundi is a fish, native to Australia, which suddenly changes sex when it gets to around five years old. Barramundis start off as male and then become female in order to regenerate. The image leapt out at me as a hugely powerful way of expressing change and fracture from a past life.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?

Like many, many writers out there, I have limited marketing experience. However, we live in a time which benefits from the unparalleled power of social networking (if you use it wisely!) I am therefore active on Facebook, write reviews for online mags (book information included in my byline), and I write posts for blogs. There’s always more to do and I like to think writing good stuff encourages readers to check out what you’ve already produced. I therefore enter short story competitions, hoping to get placed and interest readers enough to check out my other work.

What formats is the book available in?

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Time is very limited so, when I’m not writing, I’m either going out to work or looking after my children! I also run a small charity and am active in promoting or fundraising for that.

Who are your favourite authors?

As already mentioned, Anthony Doerr, David Malouf. Also Sarah Hall, Helen Dunmore, Carol Shields, Robin Hyde (New Zealand writer from the 1930s)

What advice do you have for other writers?

(1) Write every day, even if’s just a little bit, (2) Don’t worry if what you write is crap – you can always go back and edit, (3) Set up an author Facebook account, (4) Join a writer’s group

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

“Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find.” Carol Shields

What's the best thing about being a writer?

The obvious one – seeing your words in print. Also, getting the first cheque from sales or being placed in a competition, regardless of how small that cheque is. It isn’t about the money; it’s about the validation.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

On my website:

Anything else you'd like to add?

It’s a big market out there. Stick at it and find your niche.



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