Interview with Roger J Burke

What's the story behind your latest book?
Well, the story behind it is simple: at nineteen, I was young man who wanted adventure. Along with some school friends, we'd talk endlessly about how we all wanted to travel and explore far-off places. All pipe dreams, of course. So, when I got the opportunity to apply for a job in New Guinea, I guess I had no choice except to give it a go - my friends essentially dared me. So, I did and naturally, I got more than I bargained for.
When did you first start writing?
I guess that would have been when I was about ten or eleven. I read many boys' adventure stories - particularly WW2 heroes like Biggles - and so tried my imagination and hand at concocting something similar. That went nowhere, of course. I also wrote probably too many letters to newspapers when I hit my teen years. And, in fact, I got my first paycheck from a magazine that printed one of my letters; I was fifteen, I think. I've been writing, on and off, ever since.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Too many years knocking on agents' and publishers' doors, with no return. Moreover, when the internet started up in the early nineties, it was obvious to me that the world was now at my fingertips. By 2000, I had my first ebook up for sale at my website - a specialized dictionary of homonyms and homophones. Now that I've found Smashwords, I'll bring that here also.
What are you working on next?
Too many ideas and drafts. That's a problem for me. But now, because I want to fully integrate my works with Smashwords, I'll be converting much of what I've already written - non-fiction and fiction - as fast as I can. So, the next one in my list is my dictionary of homonyms and homophones which I hope to have ready before year end. After that, I have a novel - a contemporary thriller - to put through the Smashwords Style Guide. After that, I have a self-defense book specifically designed for women (I'm also a karate and self-defense instructor from way back), fully illustrated. Those three will probably keep me busy to end 2015.
Who are your favorite authors?
I read many of the classics years ago. Today, I have a mixed bag, I guess. I'll read anything from: Elmore Leonard, Jose Saramago, Gore Vidal, Roald Dahl (but not his kid's books), Alberto Moravia, James Ellroy, Richard Condon, Toni Morrison, and a few others. You'll note most of those authors are dead, but I haven't read all their books yet. As to contemporary authors, I don't seem able to make time to fully read any - although, I do read samples of some, from time to time.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I must have my early morning walk and exercise routine almost as soon as I wake. Only then can I get on with my work.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Some photography. Visiting friends. Lying on a beach and listening to the surf.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea - for fiction or non-fiction. I let it simmer in my head. If I finally like it, I write it out, create a folder, save it, properly categorized (I have hundreds). When I finally choose one to work on, I do all the research first - well, as much as I can think of - but all of it revolves around the idea I had initially. As I do that, I also flesh out the basic story - be it fiction or non-fiction (because a lot of non-fiction tells a story also, just a different type); for fiction, ideas about main characters start to emerge. When I have all that together, I try to then write out a detailed synopsis(fiction)/argument(non-fiction); or as much as possible. All of the foregoing is in the form of hand-written notes.

When that is done (as far as possible), I'll take the synopsis/argument and flesh out the plot/structure.

Only then do start to actually write.
How do you approach cover design?
It must convey the theme, or partial theme of the work, whether fiction or non-fiction. In other words, with only the imagery, the reader will have some idea concerning what the book is all about. The title, tag lines and author name are bonus.
Describe your desk
One point six meters long by sixty cm wide, by seventy-three cm high, white laminate top, wooden sides and back. Computer, on rollers, under the desk on r/h side; no drawers, and only a waste paper bin (usually full) on l/h side. Single, forty-seven cm monitor midway on desktop with two speakers, one each side of monitor. A webcam sits atop of the monitor. My (hand-written) diary is at the r/h edge of desktop. Manila folders with notes on current projects on l/h side. A black plastic 'mug', with pencils, pens etc, sits on r/h side, beside the monitor; on l/h side, are stapler, usb stick, eraser, pencil sharpener, nail clippers and an old notebook. Keyboard is front and center, with a constant cup of tea nearby (gave up coffee five years ago).

By the end of each day, however, the whole arrangement could look like a dog's breakfast.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
With fiction, I am god of all, and I can do what I please without limits, except those that are self-imposed. With non-fiction, I'm forced to deal with my daily reality, my worldview and my attempts to understand who I am. Both have their own puzzlements and rewards.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
If, by that, you mean the first complete story, then yes. Because, it was relatively recent - in 2001 I think (I was fifty-nine by then). Like many wannabe writers, I finished a short story - two pages - at a writing course I attended at a local college. That, and the course, demonstrated to me I could, in fact, write a piece of fiction that some readers would like. After that, I was determined to write a novel.
Published 2014-09-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Another Fool's Paradise
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 178,460. Language: Australian English. Published: November 9, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Dreams of adventure become reality when, in 1961, nineteen-year-old Roger J Burke gets a job in New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer. Come with Roger as he tackles the clash of cultures; the harshness and humor of colonial administration; patrolling in country; earthquakes, tropical diseases, and other nasties; investigating murders and suicides; and just missing death by a spear in the gut....