Hello! I’m so pleased to present The Debut Collective’s first Author Spotlight. I will be sharing interviews with the authors contributing to our Act of Bravery anthology first and my inbox is packed, so stay tuned for regular posts!
The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.
We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Susan Burdorf.
Please share a little about yourself and your background.
A: Hello! I am excited to be chatting with you! I am an author of a variety of short stories and novels. I live near Nashville, TN where I have nothing to do with the music industry. In my spare time I can be found hiking the trails around TN taking photographs of waterfalls and local wildlife. I have a goal in life to visit as many Zoos as I possibly can in each state I visit. I grew up outside Buffalo, NY. I love chocolate and hate coffee (cannot drink it but love the smell of it); I love fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings and dislike movies that make me cringe. I am not sure how much you want to know about me as I am a singularly boring person, but if you see me, ask me a question and I may answer it.
Please share information on any published or upcoming books.
A: I have a book coming out, in May 2016, from Anchor Group Publishing called “Breaking Fences” which is a YA Contemporary novel. The tagline reads, “More than fences are mended at the Bar B Ranch” and that pretty much sums it up. My two main characters are Melodie Graham, a 17 year old former barrel racer whose alcoholic father uses her for a punching bag when life’s frustrations are too much. Cutter Boone is an 18 year old young man whose guilt over the death of his father has pushed him to the edge of juvenile delinquency. He is ordered to spend his last month of school and summer before college with his uncle whom he barely knows. While on his uncle’s ranch he meets Melodie and they battle cattle rustlers, rabid coyotes, and their love for each other.
After this I will publish a YA Steampunk novel called “Clockwork and Lace” which contains a time traveling dragon, a missing grandmother who is a witch, and the mysterious magician, James Silver, who trains the older woman’s young granddaughter, Charlotte Raines, in the arts of magic. Demons have taken control of the magic of London and only the reclusive Mr. Silver and his ward, Charlotte, can help bring Louise back from her self-imposed prison in another dimension. But rescuing her in time may take all their powers of deduction. The League of Elementals has been scattered as they all try to save themselves from the demons running rampant in London and all over England. Only Charlotte, mistress of all the Elementals, has the control to bring down the Demon Lord, but is she ready to face him?
There are several more books due for publication this year, but no firm release dates yet. All my books are either YA or NA and all of them are clean (no scenes that are inappropriate for a younger audience). I also have a Middle Grade coming out in the Fall of 2016 which I am very excited about and not ready to release details yet.
Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?
A: I was lucky enough to get to write for four of the anthologies.
Redemption (Act of Bravery)Book #1
Bee-Lieve (Underdogs) Book #2
After Dark (Insurrection) Book #3
Shine On (Love Against All Odds)Book #5
Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.
Redemption is the story of a young woman who has lost everything she ever dreamed of and has returned to the place of her fiance’s murder to commit suicide. She is visted by angels in the guise of humans who teach her to accept what is unacceptable, and to live for what life she has been given. In the end she realizes that all life has a purpose, no matter its length, and that fighting to live that life is sometimes harder than living it.
NOTE: My hope, with this story, is to show those that have suffered a terrible loss can still find the will and the way, to go on.
Bee-Lieve is the story of a young girl, Astrid, who has nothing going for her until she enters the Spelling Bee in her local school. She has no confidence in herself, is always picked on by the other kids at school, and has come to believe all the negative things they tell her about herself. She finally breaks out of her shell when she enters the school spelling bee. She believes that being “just average” as she is, means boring, and unsuccessful. When she is picked as an alternate for the Bee, it just reinforces her feelings of inadequacy. She considers not showing up at all for the study sessions, but decides to go when her friends tell her she might get to participate. The school’s principal tries to stop the school from participating. The students go to the school board meeting where shy, just average Astrid gets up and speaks about what the Bee means to the students and the school board agrees, if the students can raise the funds, to allow the students to participate in the Regional Bee. When the chance comes for Astrid to be a full-fledged Bee participant she is overjoyed. Her just average status has been elevated, in her eyes at least, and she realizes that everyone else already thought she was awesome, it was only her insecurities that kept her thinking she was only just average.
A: After Dark
After Dark is the story of a group of friends who are sent on a mission to save their world from destruction by an enemy more powerful than any they have met before. When the Council is being controlled by a weapon that takes away their free will, the teens are forced into action. Suddenly the training they found boring and unnecessary has been transformed, as have they. Their childhood is over when they are asked to step up in the adult world and save the family and friends. And they do it, games become strategies as they battle the enemy within as well as without. Learning to trust, staying loyal, and putting aside prejudices and anger they win back their world. They see the changes they can make, and they go wholeheartedly into the fray.
A: Shine On
Rebecca is not your typical high school student. She is handicapped and very self-conscious about it. Most of her friends are dating and she dreams of the way she will find her Prince Charming at the Winter Wonderland Dance at her school. Then reality strikes and she knows she is never going to find anyone who can see beyond the extra set of wheels. Helping with the decorations for the dance she chats with a classmate who is definitely being nice to her and she begins to wonder why he chats with her at all. When he insists he is not talking to her because of a bet, or any ulterior motive she doesn’t believe him. She is resigned to missing the dance when he arrives and whisks her away to the dance where he assures her he IS her Prince Charming, and she believes him.
Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?
A: The theme of the anthologies were all about fighting for your rights, being strong in the face of adversity, understanding what is a strength and using it to your advantage. All of my main characters are people like your neighbors, or co-workers, or people you see in school every day. They have insecurities and doubts like we all do. But when the time comes for them to step up and be stronger than they ever knew they were, they are able to do it, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of others.
What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?
A: I love to write in YA Contemporary or NA Contemporary usually. But I have been known to dabble in the worlds of Paranormal or Steampunk. I like YA because of its innocence and the opportunities I have to explore those emotions and revisit the time of my life when all my experiences were so liberating.
Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?
A: I know a lot of authors have routines, but I find a routine to be stifling to my creativity. I write when the mood or the ideas strike me. Unless there is a deadline, at which point I find a quiet corner, plug in my headphones, turn on a Pandora station, and write until my fingers are sore. So far, that seems to work for me.
Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?
A: I am a hybrid. I will plot to some extent, but usually after I have started a couple chapters of a story. I have been known to create 12 page synopses of a story if I like it to direct me in the way I want the story to go, but as all authors know, the “best laid plans” usually end up with the characters taking over the story. At that point I become a pantser and I am just along for the ride. Periodically I interject a few authorly rules, and if my characters agree we move on, but if they argue… well… then we have some juggling to do. And yes, like all authors, I do hear the “voices” of my characters. And sometimes they yell at me… J
What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?
A: I am reading The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine. I love it so far and am taking it slow to savor it. I just finished reading the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, which is another author I highly recommend.
What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?
A: “A Reader Lives A Thousand Lives Before He Dies, A Man Who Does Not Read Lives Only One” by George RR Martin. Really makes you think, doesn’t it?
Tell us 5 random facts about you:
- I love to collect elephant figures
- I love to have my family near me
- I love to make jewelry
- I love to encourage new writers
- I love to hike
Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?
A: It does not influence my writing at all. I enjoy listening to music while I write, but not to inspire me. To be honest, I rarely hear the music when I am writing, it is white noise in the background.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?
A: I would say to anyone who wants to write, whether new or experienced, to just write. Just sit down at the laptop or computer or with pen and paper and write. Don’t stop writing, you can always edit out the junk. But develop a theme you feel represents your views and go with it. For me, I am inspired by stories that touch someone in a positive way. The other thing I would encourage all writers to do is to experience life, don’t stay in your house and think that you can write about something you see on the internet. Get out, call a friend, go alone, do something you have never done before. I went skydiving one time, and while that experience terrified me I went through with it and landed safely and will NEVER forget it. You don’t have to do something that crazy but just do something you never thought you would do. That will open you up creatively. Attend conferences, join Facebook groups that feature helpful information for your journey, join local writer groups or start one, READ… over and over… READ, find someone who will you honest critiques on your work – not just say “Awww… you wrote a book, how sweet”… stay away from those kinds of people; and finally – the best piece of advice I can give to a writer is be a friend to other writers. Don’t collect friends and spam your work in their newsfeeds, ask permission to add people to groups or pages, be kind in your posts, and enjoy the life of a writer!
The second part of this question is a little more complicated. Being part of this anthology is important to me because of all the great authors I get to work with. Some new authors, publishing their first works; and some more experienced who are willing to share their love of the craft and participate in a project as worthy as this one to honor the conference known as Utopia Con. Who wouldn’t be inspired?
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Website or Blog: www.susanburdorfwrites.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Burdorf/e/B00LMGIAGM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Thank you for participating, Susan! I love your advice to aspiring writers. So much wisdom there. Susan is always a kind face in a book event crowd, make sure you connect with her at UTOPiA Con 2016. I happen to know she handmakes the cutest beaded book thongs. 🙂
Please join us on Wednesday 2/24, when the Debut Collective will feature multi-award winning author J. R. Roper.