Zoe Burke interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jul 1, 2016 3:15:29 PM
Zoe Burke interview with David Alan Binder
Shortened Bio from her website: Zoe Burke is the author of the Annabelle Starkey mysteries, Jump the Gun and No Gun Intended (Poisoned Pen Press, 2013, 2016) and seven children’s books, Lightning Bug Thunder (Firefly, 1998), three Charley Harper Nature Discovery Books: What's in the Woods, What’s in the Rain Forest, and What's in the Coral Reef (Pomegranate, 2013, 2014), and three Charley Harper board books: Count the Birds, Animal Alphabet, and Book of Colors (Pomegranate, 2015).
In her day job, Zoe Katherine Burke (also known as Katie) is the vice president and publisher of Pomegranate Communications, an art book publishing company. She enjoyed a brief singer/songwriter career in the 1990s.
1. How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)?
2. Where are you currently?
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
There are no rules. I’ve been told so many over time—you must write every day! You must carry index cards with you to make notes all the time! You must come up with a routine and stick to it!—but there is no “right way” to structure your writing career/pastime/passion/hobby. You do it however you do it.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I play Spider solitaire on the computer before I start writing. Isn’t that silly! But it acts as some kind of “bridge,” to get me from the reality of my day into the fiction of my stories. Another writing “quirk,” I suppose, is that in my Annabelle Starkey mysteries, there are lots of references to movies, since my heroine is a cinema fanatic. So I spend a lot of time online looking up movies that I sort of remember seeing, but can’t quite remember a plot line, or the actor’s name. I do that a lot to find quotes from movie dialogues, too.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher.
Well, in my “real job,” I’m part owner, vice president, and publisher at a publishing company (Pomegranate Communications), so I am very much in the “use a publisher camp.” Publishers serve a vital function in our culture—not just to supply copy editors, publicists, and sales personnel, but to act as gatekeepers for the best material. Readers become aware of the quality of publications coming from various houses.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
Poisoned Pen Press, located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Ebooks serve a purpose and an audience, and they seem to be coexisting just fine alongside ink-on-paper books.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Only this: don’t give up.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
Read the acknowledgments in books that you love. Usually agents are mentioned. Check out their websites. Read recommendations, if available.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Don’t have too many people read your drafts. Too many opinions can make you crazy and lose sight of your own voice. I have two friends that have read drafts. That’s plenty. And I don’t show them anything until I’m done. I know that this is one of those “rules” that I already preached against! But it’s one I believe in.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
My characters surprise me, even though I invent them. Once in the “zone,” I feel like a conduit for them. Many writers talk about this—it’s not a unique phenomena. The creative juices really have a mysterious life of their own.
11. How many books have you written?
Two mysteries have been published (Jump the Gun and No Gun Intended) by Poisoned Pen Press. I am currently working on the third in the series. I have written a half dozen children’s books published by Pomegranate. And, I have another novel, first draft finished several years ago, that is begging for my attention. I’m still letting that one percolate.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Read your writing out loud to yourself. Some writers say to read it out loud to other people, but I find that using just myself as an audience can help tremendously. There’s something about hearing the words that reveals lots of little things (or big things) that need fixing.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Oh, how I wish I did! My twists show up on the page as a surprise, usually! And then I have to figure out WHY they happened, and how am I going to wrap everything up at the end? Honestly, my characters will say something I didn’t anticipate, or a new character will show up, and I think, uh oh. Now what!
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
A unique voice.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Book signings, some social media, though I’m not very good at that. My website.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
Nothing, really. No regrets. My writing has developed on its own course in its own time. I’m grateful.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
Ah . . . back to the beginning of this interview: “There are no rules here.”
18. Anything else you would like to say? Just thanks very much for interviewing me!
Donations are appreciated. You may be the only one that gives. Do be an angel, please.
(Just think of me as the poor man’s PBS or NPR, LOL!)
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