Niteblade Contributor Interview with William C. Burns Jr.

Today’s Niteblade Contributor Interview is with William C. Burns Jr.  I hope you enjoy it!

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

I’ve been a poet forever.  My mom tells a story of when I was four and we were going past my favorite drive in restaurant, the Gold Dome, named such because of the Gold Dome of the capitol building in Charleston WV.  Mom is driving our two tone Ford and I asked if we could stop for a hotdog.  She said, “Not today, its the day before payday.”  To which I apparently replied; “The day before payday / not a penny to spend / wait til tomorrow and we’ll all eat again.” She tells me she had to pull off the road.

Pablo Neruda says that poetry found him one afternoon.  It found me in the     pre-air conditioned, cinder block hardwood floored terrain of post sputnik American education, Mrs. Wolfitt’s class to be specific.  We were studying chapter 14, poetry, and she hated poetry. 

I’ve always had a knack for song lyrics and music was one of my windows on the world outside the hollow where I was raised (the other was Chiller theater on channel 13).

What draws you to speculative poetry?

What can be more alien than poetry?  The xeno aspect of speculative fiction seems to fit so nicely with the often mythic and sometimes wonky mechanisms of poetic expression.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Yes, at a reading in November of this year, a former teacher advised me to start writing my poetry in ways that are more accessible to the general public.  I asked that she elaborate.  She explained that my craft was good, but too much of my content was buried in my work, and the average reader would never exert themselves enough to uncover it.  As she went on it became clear that she has a very low opinion of the comprehension of most of the American public.

I’m sorry but I can’t take her advice.  I think it best to continue working my craft in a way that never ‘talks down’ to my reader.  It may sound trite, but I love my readers, and I shall never intentionally insult their intelligence by offering them less than my best work.

In the March 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your poem, “Goddess in Training“.  Is there a story behind how the poem came about?

I was working with a protegee (who has asked to remain unnamed).  She had asked me to teach her poetry.  The shear impossibility of the task appealed to me.  How do you teach someone poetry?

It came to me that it was a lot like teaching demis and goddesses.  So in true Neil Gaiman style, I set out to build a series of poems around the idea of training gods and goddesses.

What have you been working on lately?

I am working on ‘The Nine Strange Muses of Regwin’ (alternate universe with a higher predisposition for magic),  ‘The Museum of Arcane Objects’ (kinda Merlin and Nimue thing) and ‘The Wholly Visible Man’.  Honest I have lots of projects at any time, but there are always a few in the process of precipitating out.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

My turn to give advice to spec/fic poetic types.  Learn the rules before you break them so that you know what you’re doing.  Write, right now.  Don’t wait for the lightning bolt of inspiration to strike you.  To badly paraphrase Louis Pasteur, ‘Inspiration favors the prepared pen and journal’.  Get one of those Moleskine Notebooks or Journals, a good G4 Pilot Pen  (no endorsements intended) and set aside at least an hour a day to use them.

Find your favorite author and read everything they ever wrote, but don’t try to copy them.  Don’t try to be a Freudian, be the next Sigmund Freud.

I would like to thank Niteblade for existing.  They way you folk love the written word is reflected in every aspect of your publications.

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