Friday, 16 August 2019

Shawn Burgess




Okay, first question.
You wrote a play, which was 
performed live. What was it about?

It was about a girl in a small 
town in Georgia who wants to 
escape the town and links up 
with a predatory porn producer 
who sweeps through small towns 
taking advantage. The guy who 
had a crush on her all through 
high school is going to be her 
co-star but his misguided 
motivations are to somehow 
try to kindle a relationship with 
her from that encounter. Her 
father is the sheriff in the town 
and her brother is mentally 
challenged with her being 
responsible for his care. In the 
end it comes out that she’s 
being sexually abused by her 
father, and she tragically realizes 
she can’t leave her brother 
behind, doesn’t ultimately 
make the film and ends up 
staying. The play itself was 
funny because of the brother’s 
misunderstanding of things and 
unintentional interface with the 
porn shoot before it becomes 
tragically dark and the brother 
incidentally reveals what’s going on
with her and her father.

Wow. Wish I’d have seen it!
Have you done any other writing 
for the stage?
Thanks! No, I wrote a few other 
plays but never shared them with 
anyone, just enjoyed writing dialogue.

Your debut novel is on the verge 
of being released! So exciting! 
How was the idea for the story 

The Tear Collector started with
me reading my oldest son a 
Goosebumps novel. I mentioned 
to him that I used to write and 
had even written a novel when I 
was around twenty years old. So 
innocently enough, he asked me, 
“will you write me a book?” I 
said yes, and that’s how it all 
began. I initially set out to write 
something similar to a 
Goosebumps book, but it soon 
took on a life of its own. I would 
come home from business trips, 
and he would be so excited and 
ask, “How many chapters did 
you write for me, Daddy?” It was 
something amazing to share 
with my son, of course heavily 
edited on the fly for content when 
I read it to him. It’s certainly not 
age appropriate, but the characters 
wanted to be who they wanted to 
be. The first thing I wrote was on 
a plane at 30,000 feet, which is the 
present day Chapter 2. It was just 
an exchange between Brooks (also, 
my son’s name, he requested to 
be in the story, along with his 
brother, Brady), Robby and Tee. 
Once I had a good handle on those 
characters’ personalities, the story 
sort of fell into place from there. 
I’m not a heavy planner, more like 
a pantser. I have a good idea of 
where I want the story to go, but 
I’m not afraid to take it in a completely 
different direction if that’s where the 
characters take it.

Well, I’m excited for the release!
Thanks, Shauna! That makes two of us! 
And my son, Brooks, might be the most 
excited out of all of us. 😂

Last question:
You’re not joking when you say 
you’re into Halloween! 
Can you clue us in about any 
decorating/costume plans for this year?

(Shawn's Awesome Halloween Home Decorating ------------>)

So this is a bit of a depressing 
subject in a way for me. We’ve
 had Halloween parties for many, 
many years. We’ve taken years 
off in the past for the kids being 
born and their early years because 
hosting one of these is kind of a 
monumental effort that takes 
considerable time and effort to 
pull off. The entire front yard 
becomes a graveyard, complete 
with a crash landed UFO, lifesize 
aliens built by a FX artist, lasers, 
sound effects, fog, lighting, the 
works. Typically, we completely 
theme out the inside for an adult 
Halloween party, but the timing 
of my book release is going to 
be so close to the dates that we’re 
going to have to take a year off 
from the adult party (the inside 
part). I still will deck out the 
yard completely for the kids 
with all of the animatronics 
and such, but there won’t be a 
party this year. I’m still working 
on costume ideas though.

(Another Photo of Shawn's House During Halloween 

Thank you for taking the 
time for this interview! I 
enjoyed learning more 
about you!
Thanks so much for 
interviewing me, Shauna. 
I really enjoyed talking to 
you, and I really appreciate 
your interest in 
The Tear Collector.


1) Where do you live? 

I live in Jacksonville, FL very near the intercoastal waterway and Atlantic Beach. We’re a couple of miles from the ocean. I lived in Jacksonville for over 25 years and love it here.

2) What is the first thing you remember writing? 

When I was in Elementary School, I was already writing horror stories. The first one I remember was about a haunted house with a pit full of maggots. I think the reason that one stands out so much is that my parents and their good friends got such a kick out of it, they told the story for years afterward.

3) Why do you write? 

I’ve always loved writing and creating my own worlds with the ultimate goal of sharing the stories with others. Writing relaxes me, and I’ve always been the type of person to get hyper-focused on projects I’m passionate about. Writing novels is the perfect fit for this personality trait and a perfect medium to unleash my creativity.

4) Have you published any of your work? 

My debut novel, The Tear Collector, will be my first publication. I’ve written for years, especially in my teens and early twenties. I wrote a one-act play that opened four nights at the University of North Florida, which is probably the closest thing to publishing something. My ultimate dream and plan was always to be a novelist, but life happened somewhere in between, and my writing fell by the wayside. The Tear Collector is the first thing I wrote creatively in over twenty years and the first thing I ever submitted for publication.

5) What are you currently writing? 

I’m approximately halfway through an unrelated urban fantasy tentatively titled, Deity. However, I’ve put that project on hold to work on the sequel to The Tear Collector. I expect to finish the manuscript sometime around April/May 2020, and it should be ready for publication in fall of 2020.

6) Are you currently querying? 

I am not querying at the moment.

7) Finish this sentence (three lines or less):

when the idle, cobweb-cloaked clocks began a backward march, an icy draft skirting between the group. Stephanie and Melinda wore amused grins at the elaborate hoax, the lengths their boyfriends would go to to spook them; but the boys’ eyes widened, and their faces contorted as the planchette on the Ouija board began roaming from letter to letter on its own, spelling out  W-E-R-E C-O-M-I-N-G. Suddenly, the dilapidated Bentley Mansion burst to life, grandfather clocks shattering the silence with metallic bongs in the hall, a faint French-accented woman singing a sorrowful and haunting tune, an intermittent scratch of the record breaking her haunting voice.

8) Which activities do you like to participate in, in the Twitter writing community (VSS365, etc.)?

I participate in quite a few of the hashtag games on twitterlike VSS365, and like to interact with some of my favorite writers.

9) Do you have any formal training/education for writing?

I have a BA in English from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), and I did my post-graduate studies in literature at the University of North Florida.

10) Do the people in your life know that you write?

At this point, most do, but a very few select people knew that I was writing a book. Many were very surprised when they found out I had written one, and that I signed a publishing agreement for it.

11) Tell me about the people in your life. Family? Pets?

I have a wonderful wife and two sons who are 8 and 6. They bring me so much joy! They have all been amazingly supportive of me on this writing journey. I’ve always loved animals and grew up with pets, but we do not have any, more so because our hectic schedules would be cruel to the pets.

12) Where do you wish your writing to take you? 

Above all, I just want to tell great stories that entertain people. That’s always enough for me. Any subsequent meaning readers glean from the writing is a bonus. But if I’m being truly honest with myself and you, I want to achieve enough commercial success to replace my income so that I can write novels full-time. I have so many ideas for future books, and freeing up that time would allow me to pursue them much more quickly.

13) What did you expect when you joined the Twitter writing community? Did it turn out as expected? 

I stumbled onto Twitter after I completed my first novel. This is probably a very common story among newbie writers to Twitter. I initially came to Twitter with the goal of securing a literary agent and a publishing deal. What I found was so much more—a thriving writing community that I never even knew existed. I’ve made so many connections with writers who I now consider my friends. Being a writer that’s not plugged into any type of local writing group, that’s been a godsend for me. I can bounce ideas off other writers, and I also get to enjoy their work. I did ultimately find my publisher on Twitter through a quarterly event called #PitMad.

14) Where do you write? 

The Tear Collector was mostly written on airplanes at 30,000 feet, in restaurants and hotel rooms while I traveled. These days, I still write in those places, but I also have a little writing room in my home office that I can retreat to.

15) How much time do you dedicate to writing, weekly? 

It’s typically somewhere between 10-15 hours.

16) Do you have other talents? 

Is decorating for Halloween a talent? Because, if so, I rock that one. I’ve posted a few things on Twitter in the past, but for those who don’t know, we go all-out for Halloween with elaborate decorations, props and sets. I typically theme it out. One of my recent favorites I did was Children of the Corn.

A. I do not mind when other writers ask for advice.
B. I’d rather keep to myself!

I’m always open to other writers asking for advice. We all have to start somewhere, and I’m very grateful to the many kind people who have helped me along my journey.

Shawn Burgess is a speculative fiction author, with a love for the unusual, whether that be in his own writing, or in his reading of the works of others. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and two sons.

Twitter:  ShawnBinJax
Instagram: ShawnBinJax
Facebook:  Shawn Burgess Author

FALL 2019

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