Interview with Petrea Burchard

When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first story when I was six. It's called "The Little Pumpkin." The original, on scrap paper in my own hand, is on my website, PetreaBurchard.com.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I majored in writing in college, but went on to an acting career. I was inspired to write "Camelot & Vine" one summer while studying acting at Oxford, England. When the Oxford course was over, I had a little time to play tourist. One place I visited was the Glastonbury Tor. From atop it, I could see a low, flat hill to the south. I asked our guide what it was. "It's Cadbury Hill," he said. "Legend says it was Camelot."

I had always been a writer as well as an actor, and I was chronicling my experiences and feelings about the trip in a little diary. But I didn't need to write that down. The idea of Camelot as a real place would not leave me. I wanted to visit the real Camelot. And at last, in my novel, I did.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Agents and publishers I contacted told me very kindly that "King Arthur doesn't sell," "Camelot doesn't sell," etc. I was surprised because we have TV shows about Arthur, books about Camelot, etc. Everyone loves "Game of Thrones" and all things medieval. So I decided to sell the book myself and see if I could prove them wrong. So far, so good.
Writers are told to write the books they want to read. Why was Camelot & Vine the book you wanted to read?
Personally, when I started the story, I wasn't very good at being friends with males of our species, and I wanted to figure out how to be better at that. Professionally, I was tired of reading DRAMA about rape, incest, drug addiction and wife-beating. I wanted to read something fun.
How does the character grow and evolve with the story? It seems like an intricate evolution between writer and character.
I don't know how other writers do it. I have an idea for a character and a story, and I start jotting notes about them, and they influence each other. The character develops as the story does, and plot may change either or both, and vice versa, etc. It's like mixing ingredients that become greater than the sum of their parts. You know, cake.
What is your writing process?
As I picture scenes, I write them down. Just a sentence or two. I put them in order, and while I think about what happens I come to know what other scenes I need. Pretty soon - okay, not really soon, but eventually - I have an outline. From there, it's a matter of writing, rewriting, rewriting some more, editing, etc. It takes for damn ever.

It's different for an essay. In that case, I just start. All my thoughts come pouring out and once I get them down, then comes the "for damn ever" part.
What surprises have you been most grateful for as a writer?
The writing community where I live is very supportive, and I'm grateful for that.
And the autonomy! I love it! Writing your own stories and publishing them yourself is not for everyone, but it is definitely for me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
We're fortunate to live near a lot of trails and I like to go hiking in the mountains. I also love to travel whenever I can.
You were an actor before you wrote "Camelot & Vine." What are the most daunting differences between acting and writing?
The daunting difference, frankly, is exercise. I have to make time for it and just plain do it. Otherwise, a writer sits on her butt all day.

There are similarities, too. I don't suppose every writer can act, nor can every actor write, but knowing how to get inside a character helps me as a writer. Most actors understand story structure innately, because we've been interpreting stories for our entire careers. An actor is an interpreter of material. A writer is the creator of the material. We're looking through a window from opposite sides of it.
What actors and writers do you admire?
Shakespeare! You will call that a boring answer if you haven't studied his stuff. He was an actor and a writer, so he's first on my list.
Other writers I admire: Charles Dickens for innovation, Henry Fielding for satire, John Gardner for both, Richard Russo for tying up a million little things, Daphne DuMaurier for her magical storytelling. I just finished "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout, and I look forward to reading more from her.
What's next for you?
I'm finishing a book of essays about my years as an actor. It's called "Act As If." It's based on a column I wrote for NowCasting.com, and it's about comedy, tragedy, and love of craft. Mostly it's funny, because acting is a hard career, and actors have to learn to laugh at themselves or they'll just be getting drunk all the time.

I'm also working on a new novel, but as it's in the beginning stages I'm going to keep the details to myself for now.
I solicited questions from my facebook friends. Some are fans of Ryoko, the anime character I voiced in the anime classic, "Tenchi Muyo!", and they asked about my current and future participation in anime.
I haven't watched any of the new "Tenchi" series, but I've seen all the old ones. As to whether or not I will voice another character, that always depends on the producers. The producers choose the material and the talent. I still work regularly in voice-over and it would be fun for me to voice anime again.
How would you feel about a Camelot & Vine sequel?
Ooh, I have mulled this over! Where would Casey go? What would she do? Or would I revisit characters we met back in the sixth century and follow their paths instead of Casey's? I believe Casey's story is fully told in Camelot & Vine, so I think the latter is more interesting. I'd love to know what others think.
What do you read for pleasure?
I especially love fiction, history and biography.
What's your favorite food?
This question came from a foodie friend. My answer:

White rice with butter and a bit of salt.
I'm not kidding. Can't get enough.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood with Headshot in Hand
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 35,650. Language: American English. Published: June 21, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Entertainment industry, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Being a non-famous working actor in Hollywood isn't easy, but it can be hilarious if you bring your attitude. Based on the popular column in Nowcasting.com's ActorsInk, the essays in Act As If take a (mostly) humorous look at the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood. "Journeyman," as in "not a star." With humor and honesty, Petrea Burchard tells what it takes to be a working actor in Hollywood.
Camelot & Vine
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 87,470. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
"This tale of an LA poser in King Arthur’s court combines character-driven writing with great pacing and action. The fact that it also includes fascinating period details, a tweaking of ancient legend, and a sexy King Arthur for grown ups makes it the perfect indulgence for those days when you just need to live in another millennium." —Margaret Finnegan, author of The Goddess Lounge
Belinda's Birthday
Price: Free! Words: 1,180. Language: American English. Published: July 9, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Literature » Literary
(4.50)
Short story. Belinda lost everything on her birthday. What gifts could life have for her now?