Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Interview with Dan Buri

My guest today is Dan Buri, author of Pieces Like Pottery: Stories of Loss and Redemption. 

Hi Dan, welcome to Just Books, thank you for joining us today.

Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your book?
I grew up in the Midwest in the States with four brothers and one sister. I moved out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest a little over ten years ago. I am a patent attorney with an engineering background, which is what I spend my days doing when I am not writing. I have a beautiful wife and amazing two-year-old daughter who cracks me up daily.
Pieces Like Pottery is literary fiction or contemporary fiction. It’s a collection of short stories that explores the sorrows of life, but exposes the strength of character and the kindness we all need to find redemption. Each story touches on very real and very human emotions and experiences.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them as a kid nearly 30-years ago:   
I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.
I didn’t say it was any good! I don’t remember any more than that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I even remember those lines.
The point is, writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing myself and admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.

Do you have a specific writing style?
My non-fiction work has been published in print and online at a number of places over the years. My wife and I actually had a fairly well regarded blog called Buris On the Couch a few years back. We would pick a narrow subject each week and then write He Says/She Says takes on that subject. We really enjoyed doing it, but it became difficult to keep up and we had to shut it down once we had our daughter. Maybe we’ll revisit it again in the future. We’ve had a lot of inquiries to start it back up. This is my first venture into the world of fiction. I have written fiction since I was young, but this is my first published work of fiction. I enjoy the craft of writing, so I try to explore different styles all the time while continue to maintain my voice as an author.

Tell us about your favourite memory related to reading or writing?
I have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis a half dozen times or so, but the first time I read it was with my mother. I think I fell in love with storytelling hearing my mother read this book to me. It’s a beautiful fable. I can recall lying up at night before bed as she made the world of C.S. Lewis a reality for me.

Do you have a special time to write?
Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. With a very demanding job, a wife, and two-year-old daughter, however, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.
I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising as it is about the writing itself. I have so many pages of Pieces Like Pottery on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me. Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby. I had to find time to write whenever I could, regardless of whether the circumstances were perfect.
That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a fine whiskey. Nothing beats that.

What inspired you to write Pieces Like Pottery?

Great question. I wouldn’t say that there was any one moment that prompted me to write Pieces Like Pottery, but these stories constantly bubble up inside of me.
As writers, I think the challenge is taking the stories from our head and our heart and putting them on the page.
A lot of people have stories, but not everyone can communicate them effectively and clearly.
It’s the great challenge of the writer.

I am moved and inspired by people’s real life stories of overcoming tragedy.
Every person has trials in life. Life always presents obstacles and disappointments. I wanted to examine how individuals overcome these obstacles in a variety of characters.

I toyed with the idea of each of these stories being its own novel, and I still may expand a couple of them into full length novels, but I settled in on a collection of linked short stories because it presented the opportunity to have a range of characters and display that despite how different each character’s life experience is, we are all connected as human beings. We all suffer and laugh just the same. My hope is that readers recognize that and are inspired or moved to compassion through the book.

And for those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?
I would love if you and your readers checked out my book. I would love to get feedback from your wonderful community. (And it’s less than the price of a cup of coffee. Not too bad for something that took me nearly seven years to complete, no?) Please do let me know if any of you read the book and have feedback. I welcome the dialogue.
Expect to be moved, hopefully to compassion. Expect to be challenged and hopefully inspired. Expect to want to love more. Expect tears at least once (I’ve been told). And, as titled in one of the stories—Expect Dragons—but not real dragons, it’s not a fantasy novel. You’ll just have to read it I guess to know what that means.

Can you tell us about the cover and how it came about.
The cover is a photograph by the brilliant photographer, David Mattox (http://davidmattox.com). His work has been featured in galleries throughout the Northeast and has been featured in the New Yorker. I am very lucky that he was gracious enough to allow me to use one of his photographs.

Book reviews are important to writers. Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Kindness? Gratitude? If you or any of your readers have ideas, I would love to get them. As an Indie author, I could use any support I can get!

What are your thoughts on good and bad reviews?
I welcome them all. A good book, in my mind, should have both good and bad reviews. If every review is good, then it most likely means that the book is “just fine”—the book probably doesn’t challenge the reader at all. There are great minds that love terrible books and great books that are hated by great minds. A book isn’t for everyone and that is just fine. A good book should have people debating its merits.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Enjoy the outdoors. Take in a sporting event. Work. Spend time with my family. Read.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I usually have 2-5 books in progress at any one time. I feel like this is the question that readers and writers always ask in a judgmental way. It’s as if your readers are going to judge me by the authors I enjoy. “Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. John Grisham? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing.” (I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen.)
In no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Shell Silverstein, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson and Mark Twain…to name a few.

And finally, what is your favourite quote?
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."
                                                                                               -John Wooden

Thanks again for joining us today, Dan. I've added Pieces Like Pottery to my to-read list, and I hope my readers do too. 

Pieces Like Pottery is currently at promotional pricing!

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads

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