Interview with Shawnna Burt

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Cape Cod, Massuchusetts. It's surrounded by ocean, summer and especially fall are breathtaking, we even have our own writer's colony. Beautiful, really, but that's only on the surface. I live in an area which is generally conservative, and cares a lot about social convention. When I early on realized my personality was pretty nonconformist, I knew I was never going to fit in. I took all my angst and put it into my writing.
When did you first start writing?
In third grade, I wrote a paper and in response, my teacher called my mother wanting to know what books I had been reading. She thought I had plagiarized. But no, I had actually written it.
In seventh grade, I wrote for the town newspaper.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
to learn, inspire, be inspire, heal, be healed, love, help, grow, evolve. To be a little better everyday. To make a difference to in someone's life, no matter how small.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yeah, it was a horror story. I wrote it when I was 12. It was called "Black Lightning," where a boy whose having trouble getting along with his mom intentionally dives into an empty swimming pool, and of course, she and all the other mothers are there too having cocktails. Graphic and disturbing I know.
What is your writing process?
I'm most creative at night, when I'm trying to fall asleep. When I think of something I like I just type it into my phone and make a note to add it to my manuscript the next day.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I know what it's like to feel like to feel like a prisoner of my youth and circumstance, and to want so much more. Even though my situation wasn't nearly as bad as hers, I empathized with her struggles.
The Hours. I loved how a woman in the traditional 1950's could lead with her heart and follow her dreams, regardless of what other people were doing. One of my basic principles is that it's more important to do what makes you happy than be a follower and give up your individuality.
The Scarlett Letter. I've felt like persecuted just like Hester Prynne my whole life. She followed her heart and so do I, and I speak the truth. People usually don't want to hear the truth because it forces them to look at themselves and they don't want to change their preferred way of thinking.
Frankenstein. I know what its like to have created a monster, and also be that monster.
The Catcher in the Rye. I just enjoyed the teen angst.
Describe your desk
Pretty messy!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book "The Death of Me" is a memoir of my personal struggles with mental illness, particularly eating disorders and alcoholism to an extent. I was in and out of hospitals for years. I just sort of fell through the cracks of the system and couldn't get free. I signed myself out of the institution at eighteen against medical advice and never looked back. And as the years passed I became haunted with regret and the loss of love, which sent of course into a downward spiral again. Ultimately I had to face the demons of my past and present in order to truly break free or die.
Who are your favorite authors?
Anne Rice, Stephen King, Mary Shelly, Ayn Rand, Lewis Carroll, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton, Anaiis Nin. To name a few.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I was little I wanted to be a painter. Well, I wasn't any good at painting. But writing for me is kind of like painting with words on paper. The reader's imagination is free to conceive all that is possible within the power of words.
Published 2014-08-19.
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Books by This Author

The Death of Me
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 31,340. Language: English. Published: September 26, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Eating Disorders
"The Death of Me" is a memoir on a young woman's victory over her eating disorder and the courage it took for her to break free. It is a jarring juxtaposition of shadow and light, crashing dramas that once burned so bright and to the core. They now offer a life of light, particularly to those who suffer from mental illness, who are haunted still. That is the essence of "The Death of Me."