#ShoutoutSaturday: David Gordon Burke
We're excited to get back into our series with author David Gordon Burke!
Tell us about yourself!
I am from Ottawa, Canada. 20 years ago I decided that Canadian winters weren't to my liking so I moved to Monterrey, Mexico where I make my living as an English teacher. I have always had a burning creative desire but have never found the right medium. I made my living in Canada as a musician, hairstylist, salesman, bartender, cook, dishwasher and a variety of other jobs. I recorded an album with an R&B band in the 80s but we never found the funds to release it - half of the songs were my compositions.
When did you begin writing?
At a young age the education system beat the dream of writing out of me. English and computers were the only subjects that I excelled at but sadly even the teachers that recognized that I had some talent never took the time to encourage me. My family didn't consider writing a viable career so again, no one ever planted the idea in my head that a person could possibly choose this as a career.
As a matter of fact, my music teacher also told me I was tone deaf - I have spent the better part of my life ignoring the bad advice I have gotten from authority figures and it is a great source of pride to have proven them wrong. Since I got my first computer I have always contributed to various web sites, bulletin boards and forums on a variety of topics so I knew I could write well .... I just didn't know how to go about structuring and planning a novel.
Two years ago I read 'How to Write a Damn Good Novel' by James N. Frey and that gave me the tools and confidence to really begin writing seriously.
What is the title of your most recent book? What's it about in a paragraph?
My most recent release is a collection of short stories called 'Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups + Chili Dogs, True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico. My writing focus up to that time had been on Dogs. I have a memoir called 'A Rose by Any Other Name' which was inspired by my muse, a half Lab, half shepherd mutt called Duchess Desert Rose. Then I wrote my first novel called LOBO about a dog lost in the streets of Monterrey in the aftermath of Hurricane Alex in 2010.
Why did you write your book?
I was inspired to write Mexican Mutts, in a big way by social media. I would see horrific stories of animal abuse on Facebook and youtube and at the time the local government was batting around legislation concerning fines and jail time for these crimes.
The book is a combination of newspaper style articles (true stories) snatched from the headlines of Mexican press mixed in with fictionalized accounts of my own observations of the life of dogs in Mexico.
What specific challenges did you face when writing and publishing your book? My personal challenge is that being a writer who writes English books about Mexico, my audience is not here. It is abroad. I had to deal with the taxation issues that a foreign writer must tackle if he wants to distribute via Amazon and my marketing is a nightmare since I am not even living in the world where my readers live. I do the best I can via the internet.
The other challenge is that I do not write a typical genre based fiction. Books about dogs is a slim market. And I don't have deep pockets to pay for the kinds of services that have sprung up all over to promote and review Indie books.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing and publishing your book?
Getting print copies of my books was a very cool moment. Another great feeling is getting unsolicited reviews from people I don't even know.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to unpublished writers?
Give up now! No seriously, I'd say just the opposite. But if a young writer is expecting to write a novel and then sit back and wait for the royalty payments to come rolling in, they are in for a big surprise. At this moment hundreds of books are being uploaded for sale on Amazon, Smashwords, Nook etc. The competition is ridiculous. It makes landing a recording contract or getting a starring role in a Hollywood film production look easy. So the satisfaction that comes from writing has to be enough to sustain the dream. As a final piece of advice, (and I hate to give it because I do not live by it) You have to know your market. There is Genre fiction and there is Literary fiction. Know the difference.