Author Interview is a great way to know your favorite authors. I have been reading a whole lot of author interviews for a long time and since then, I had wanted to host one myself too. But a lot of set backs happened and that dream never materialized till I met Author Dan Buri. Our initial interaction was fun and after finishing his wonderful book “Pieces like Pottery”, I was sure he would be the perfect person to start my Author Interview with. Asking him all these questions and getting all those answers from him was an interesting and inspiring journey for me. I hope you all enjoy reading the Interview as much as I had fun taking it.
And here goes…
About Yourself (Personal)
- Tell us something about yourself and your background?
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.
- What were you like at school?
While I did fine in school, many teachers found me to be disruptive. I had a hard time sitting still and found myself in trouble quite often.
- What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
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.)
I am constantly inspired by writers. I have a lot of authors that I love. A few, in no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Shell Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Grisham, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson and Mark Twain. I could probably list another hundred who’s writing I enjoy with wonderment.
- Which is your favorite movie? Why?
Robin Hood (the Disney version). It’s perfect.
- What advice would you give to your younger self?
Do what you do to the best of your ability. Be authentic and vulnerable. Don’t try to be what anyone else wants you to be.
About being an Author
- What made you start writing?
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. 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 as husband and wife. We really enjoyed doing it, but it became difficult to keep up and we had to shut it down once we had our daughter. (Although I think you can still find it archived online. I’m not sure.) This is my first venture into the world of fiction, though. I have written fiction since I was a teenager, but this is my first published work.
- What is the best time you find to write? (day or night) Why?
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 than 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 and to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby.
That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a whiskey.
- How important do you think Cover Page is for a book?
Despite the old adage, everyone judges a book by its cover. It is very, very important.
- Who / What inspires you to write?
Great question. 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 find inspiration in my everyday life. I think good writers have a unique gift of empathy. They work hard to understand another person’s pains, hopes, dreams and fears. I really try to understand each person that I encounter in my life. These experiences tend to inspire me and seep into my writing.
- Do you think reading habits have decreased in the current generations? If so, what is the solution for that?
I don’t think reading has decreased, but it has changed. New research is coming out—one study from Stanford—that shows that the synapses in our brain fire differently when we read in electronic formats as opposed to physical paper copies. Studies are showing that the social-media generated type of article is training our brains to read quickly and to have a short attention span. This is a good skill to have, but not for all types of writing. Novels and research articles, for example, need to be digested in long form. The solution, I think, is to read in a variety of media (i.e. paper, computer, mobile device). This will train your brain to adjust depending on the type of work you are reading. Our brain is a muscle and just like other muscles in the body, it needs to be exercised.
About your book
- What is your inspiration to write “Pieces like Pottery”?
Pieces Like Pottery is literary fiction. It’s a collection of short stories that explores the sorrows of life, but the courage and kindness it takes to find redemption. Each story touches on very real and very human emotions and experiences.
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 to 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.
- What was in your mind when you came up with the title?
Sorrow. Shattered dreams being put back together. Beautiful art being pieced together. Puzzle pieces jig-sawed together. Redemption.
- How did you come up with the cover page? Is it your own design or someone else designed it for you?
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.
- Do you have any advice for upcoming writers?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)
- When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.
- Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages that your work is not going to be good when you’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.
- Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.
So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.
Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.
Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.
Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Pieces Like Pottery Links
Check out my Review at Book Review of Pieces like Pottery
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