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Meet the Author, Dan Burns

Meet the kind and considerate author Dan Burns in this interview!

What are your writing accomplishments?

My greatest accomplishment was breaking free of my background as a corporate speechwriter with my first book: Saving Ben: A Father’s Story of Autism. Since then, I've also won several awards for my ability to procrastinate and stare blankly at a computer screen.

What keeps you motivated to write?

Overall, writing is a deeply personal and transformative experience for me. To put it plainly, I enjoy torturing my characters and teaching them lessons by making them suffer through the stages I skipped growing up.

What is your writing schedule?

I like to start my day with a nice cup of coffee and a solid twenty minutes of speed writing. After that, it's two or three hours of rewriting, followed by a brief nap to dream about all the literary awards I want to win.

What advice would you give to new writers?

For advice to new writers, I'd say the same thing I try to do every day: go back in time and start writing ten years earlier. Then, keep at it like a dog chasing its tail. And whatever you do, resist the urge to take a sudden break to replace the rear door panel on your partner's 1986 BMW. Trust me, that can’t end well.

What genre do you write?

I write coming-of-age stories for young adults still not entirely sure how to do their taxes. Beyond that, I write for older readers, like me, reworking their way through those thrilling days of yesteryear. I write for older readers who are exploring new relationships, themselves, growing as people, and replacing the Vietnam War draft with draft beer.

What genre will you never write?

After the trauma of last week, I'm never going to write a how-to manual on servicing a 1986 BMW. I'm pretty sure that car was designed by a team of German engineers with a grudge against clueless American writers. My advice? Just set it on fire and call it a day.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book used to be Nabokov's Pale Fire, a 999-line poem consisting ofa labyrinthine web of allusions, self-references, and nested narratives. I have a Ph.D. in literature, but I decided I’d rather write books accessible to many potential fans rather than a few disagreeable academic critics. Now my favorite book is Love Me Truly, and it's a passionate, heartwarming tale of a gay Vietnam war romance. Which I’m writing.

What is your goal as a writer?

I want to leave behind a legacy for my children that's worth more than a forgotten flash drive full of unpublished novels. Of course, I'd settle for them just remembering my name, but who knows, maybe one day they'll even make a biopic about my life.

Picture this: a computer-generated recreation of Oscar Wilde playing me, because who better to capture my wit and charm than the master himself? And brooding, intense Timothée Chalamet playing my laptop. It'll be a masterpiece for the ages. Or, you know, a solid B-movie. Either way, I'm excited.

Do you struggle with any aspects of writing?

My biggest struggle is describing emotions. I mean, how do you put into words the feeling of existential dread mixed with a sudden craving for nachos? Fortunately, I have two trusty writing partners: Shiitake Mama, who's a whiz at creating complex characters with real emotional depth; Cheerful Chat, whose constructive criticism is like a gentle hug followed by a “here’s what could be improved” kick in the pants. Together, we're like the Three Musketeers of literature - only with less sword fighting and more caffeine.

When did you start writing?

I started writing at about the same age as I started lying. By the third grade, I used a mimeograph machine to publish neighborhood gossip. It was a primitive form of social media with fewer cat videos. When there was no news, I made some.

What do you do for a living?

I don't have a traditional day job anymore. I'm retired now, so I wear a lot of hats - some of them are more stylish than others. Foremost, I'm a caretaker of my life partner Sue and my children and grandchildren, which keeps Sue busy. It's a job that requires equal parts patience, fortitude, and caffeine, but it's also one of the most rewarding things I've ever struggled to do.

But that's my 7:00 wake-up and planning drill. Once I've got the family sorted, I focus on writing and self-improvement. For me, that means getting healthier, wealthier, and wiser - in that order. And when I say "wiser," I mean more like Jesus. You know, that whole "love thy neighbor" thing. I figure if I can be a better person, that'll make me a better lover too.

Wait, hold on. What do you mean by "a better lover?"

Oh, don't worry, by “a better lover” I'm not just talking about romantic love. As Will Rogers famously said, "I never met a man I didn't like." That's the kind of lover I want to be - someone who's open and empathetic to all kinds of people and experiences. For me, that means being a lover of life, a lover of learning, and a lover of all the things that make this crazy world worth living in. It means being curious, compassionate, and just a little bit daring. And forgiving.

Who knows, maybe being a better lover will make me a better writer. The more I can understand and connect with my fellow human beings, the better I'll be able to tell their stories. Or at least open a path for some other writers to explore. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what I was born to do.

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