Interview: Burt Weissbourd, author of In Velvet

Burt WeissbourdEveryone, please welcome Burt Weissbourd to the blog. Today we chat about writer ticks, Blog Talk Radio, The Wire, and the difference between redeemable and unredeemable characters. Make sure to check out the giveaway at the end!

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

The reality that I focus on in my writing is the emotional reality of my characters. That’s always the touchstone for me – I want my characters to be emotionally “true” in the way a carpenter would use the word true. In order to accomplish that I often use little details or mundane occurrences. In Inside Passage Corey spits in her hand to polish her boots before meeting her first psychiatrist.

In In Velvet, Rachel takes long hikes – that are described in great detail – through Yellowstone Park where she observes animal behavior. The detailing of the changes in her surroundings as she gets to higher altitudes creates the context for her emotional distress as she sees more instances of unseasonal animal behavior and mutations in the young.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

I’m still learning about self promotion. I’m writing a newsletter, and I really enjoy putting that together. I do interviews about my books on Blog Talk Radio and that has turned into a really unexpected pleasure. I’m still learning about Twitter, and I’m getting my sea legs on Facebook. I enjoy book events, especially in cities where I see old friends I haven’t seen in a long time. My least favorite aspect of self promotion is that it takes so much time when I’d rather be writing.

WeissbourdInVelvetMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

My background includes producing feature films and I can see how the publishing industry has already evolved to engage multimedia. More and more books are selling to more and more suppliers of content to film, TV and the internet. I hope to turn my first book, Inside Passage, into a TV series (it’s the first book in the Corey Logan Trilogy). My new book, In Velvet, would be perfect for an HBO series or some other producer of multi episode, multi character dramas like The Wire or The Sopranos. It could also be a feature film a la Jurassic Park.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

I do not look to non fiction works to build my fictional realities. I create them from places, often wild, that I know very well – like Yellowstone Park or the Inside Passage (or Seattle). I ground them in these places though I often create new features, like the town of North in In Velvet, which is a fictional place or the S.

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

When I write bad guys I want them to be awful, though credibly awful, and occasionally they redeem themselves. Jesse Stinson, the corrupt sheriff in In Velvet , or Danny, the government grant officer (s poseur, Danny is actually a lethal black ops operator for the military) are unredeemable. Gummer Mosk, however, an enforcement ranger and Jesse’s partner, has a chance to redeem himself, and hopefully, the reader hangs in with him long enough to hope for that magical moment.

WeissbourdInsidePassageAs a young reader, unspoiled by the realities of this world, what stories and authors drove you to delusions of grandeur, expecting to be swept up into a magical tale or a laser battle?

As a young reader I loved The Hardy Boys series (created by the publisher Edward Stratemeyer and written by many different ghostwriters under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon) and the Nancy Drew series (created by the same publisher and ghostwritten under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene).

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, Ross Thomas’ Benjamin Dill, James Crumley’s C. W. Sughrue, Dashiell Hammet’s Nick and Nora Charles.

Do you have any strange writer ticks? Little oddities that come out when you’re working on a difficult passage?

The closest thing I have to a writer’s tick when I’m writing a difficult passage is a tendency to rewrite, rewrite,and rewrite again until I get it right.


Burt will be offering a weekly giveaway through Goodreads of copies of In Velvet throughout the  Month of May.

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