Name – Greta Burroughs
Age – over the half century mark
Where are you from – I was born in the upstate of South Carolina, USA, but grew up living in the mountains of North Carolina. Now, we live in coastal South Carolina.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc – I put myself through college by working two jobs and attending evening classes. It took longer than the usual four years but I achieved my goal of getting that diploma, allowing me to become a teacher. I worked with handicapped and delayed children for several years until the man of my dreams swept me off my feet. Robert DeBurgh and I have been happily married for almost thirty years now. We were self-employed in the field of aviation until medical issues forced us to go to plan B. Since then, we have become full-time authors. We have had a number of four-legged children through the years and I am blessed with a beautiful step-daughter, son-in-law and grandkids.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Lately, my life has been kept very busy with training a couple of new dogs who wandered into our yard and refused to leave. I’m trying to work on a couple of manuscripts but haven’t been very successful in getting much writing done over the past couple months. Once all the dog training and summer time yard work are out of the way, hopefully I’ll be able to write again.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Greta: I have always loved to read but never thought about becoming a writer. Working as a teacher, I made up stories for the kids and we ‘made’ books for the children to take home. I loved creating our masterpieces but it was all just for fun. Many years later, when I was diagnosed with ITP and was no longer able to work outside the home, I made up some children’s stories. That effort was mainly to occupy my time so I wouldn’t go crazy from boredom. I got a job doing some freelance writing for a local newspaper and discovered how much I actually loved writing and everything blossomed from there.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Greta: When I started getting paid for my freelance work and actually had some of my articles chosen as features. The constructive criticism I received from my editors and the compliments from the readers spurred me on. Writing articles for a couple of small town newspapers got old after a couple of years so I branched out and started the manuscript for my first book.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Greta: My husband had published his first novel and he encouraged me to give it a try. Gerald and the Wee People took a couple of years to complete since I was still writing for the newspapers. During that time, I also developed eye problems due to the medication I was taking for my ITP. Cataracts left me legally blind for six months until I could have both lenses replaced. I continued writing my articles (using the largest font possible on my computer) but the book had to be put on the back burner. When my vision was restored, the book became a priority and was published soon after.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Greta: I’m a seat of the pants writer. I usually only have an idea for the beginning of the story and then let the rest write itself. I surprise myself sometimes when I look over the previous chapter, wondering where did that come from and where am I going from here? I start typing and the rest flows as I write.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Greta: For Gerald and the Wee People, the title is self-explanatory. Book two in the series, House on Bo-Kay Lane, was inspired by the address of a house we almost bought on Bo-K Lane. The name stuck with me and I had to find a way to use it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Greta: As a former teacher, I can’t help but sneak some lessons in my books. Since the books in the Wee People series are MG/YA, I emphasize acceptance of and respecting others, value of friendship and subtle subjects such as that.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Greta: The Wee People books are completely fantasy/fiction. The characters are named in memory of family members who are no longer with us, but there are no shared characteristics or experiences.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Greta: The first book that made an impression on me was To Kill a Mockingbird. I still remember where I was while reading and how absorbed I got in the story.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Greta: I’d have to say my husband, Robert DeBurgh, is my mentor. He got me started in this business and has been my best critic and supporter.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Greta: West with the Night by Beryl Markham.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Greta: I have met some terrific authors through my Facebook groups, too many to name but I’m looking forward to any new books from them.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Greta: I am working on three manuscripts: the third book in the Wee People series, another adventure for Patchy and Calico in the Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat children’s book series, and a new book based on a stray dog that entered our lives – what kind of life did he have before he came into our yard.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Greta: I would love to be able to make a living from my books but that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe someday….
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Vernon awoke. It was dark. It was cold. He was drenched in sweat. A pillow was clenched against his chest. The dream, more like a nightmare, continued playing over and over again in his mind:
Children huddled in a corner of a lightless, damp, musty smelling room. They were all boys. Dirty rags that used to be clothes hung on their skinny bodies. A big, fat rat skittered across the floor. One of the older boys jumped and landed on top of the rat. A smile lit up the boy’s face as he retrieved the squirming, squealing body from underneath his own. He held it up for the other boys to see. He twisted the rat’s neck; no more movement, no more squealing. The silence was broken by a ripping, crunching sound as the boy took a bite of the warm flesh. Each of the other boys took a turn…
Vernon hit himself in the head. Stop it, stop it! The images remained in his mind. I can’t stand it. STOP! He got up and paced around his bedroom. That did not help. He went downstairs to the kitchen for a drink of water. A faint noise inside one of the cabinets made him drop the glass. Bits of broken glass and cold water scattered across the floor. A blood curdling scream awoke Vernon’s parents.
John and Susie found their son lying on the kitchen flooring, sobbing and trembling. “Vernon, what happened? Are you alright?”
“Make it stop, make it stop.”
“Make what stop, son?”
“The kids, the rat, I…I heard the rat in the cabinet.” Vernon pointed to the door under the sink.
John carefully reached over his son and grabbed the edge of the sink, avoiding the glass shards between them and the cabinet. Using his other hand, Vernon’s father slowly opened the cabinet door. Vernon curled up in a ball, covering his head with his hands.
“Vernon, there’s no rat under here. We may have a mouse hiding somewhere but there’s no rat. You’re okay, you’re safe. We won’t let anything hurt you. You must have had a bad dream. Let’s get you and the floor cleaned up, then we can talk about it.”
John straightened back up and took a few steps backward so he was standing beside his wife. “Susie, I’ll go get some dry pajamas for Vernon. Would you mind cleaning up this mess while I help Vernon change out of these wet clothes? I want to check him over and make sure he didn’t get any cuts from the glass.”
Vernon felt like a little kid again, crying and whimpering while his father dressed him. It was pretty embarrassing as his father checked him from head to toe and everywhere in between for any cuts. But it was also very comforting to feel his dad’s gentle touch and to know how much he was loved.
As John guided his son into the living room and onto the couch, he commented, “It’s been a long time since we could baby you. It feels good to know our sixteen, soon to be seventeen-year-old boy still needs us. Now tell us about the dream.”
Susie sat on the other side of Vernon, gently placing the teenager’s hand into hers. “You haven’t been yourself lately, Vernon, not talking much and hiding away in your bedroom. Something’s bothering you and maybe the dream has something to do with it. We want to help. Tell us, please.”
Vernon looked in his mother’s eyes and saw the love and concern. I wish I could tell them everything; about the wee people, my and Gerald’s adventure in another world, the house on Bo-Kay Lane, how Gerald’s father found out about our secret and helped us and now this stupid Finder’s thing, but they’d think I’m crazy. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell them about the dream. I owe them that much.
After describing the nightmare, and what followed in the kitchen, Vernon began to cry again. His parents did not try to downplay the terror and sadness nor tell him it was just a silly dream. Instead, they held their son, letting their love and care say more than words ever could. No one went back to bed. All three stayed on the couch until morning, comforted by each other’s presence.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Greta: Finding the time to write is the biggest challenge facing me right now. Other than that, sometimes I get to a point where the story doesn’t flow as I wish. When that happens, I leave it for a few days and go back to it. That usually works.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Greta: I designed the covers for the Wee People books, Jennifer Bastow did the artwork and covers for the Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat books and my husband, Robert DeBurgh designed the cover for Heartaches and Miracles, my non-fiction account of my experiences with ITP.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Greta: Enjoy what you write, don’t try to write in a genre you are unfamiliar with. Don’t be in a hurry; it takes time to craft your story. It is extremely important to have it edited and polished up before you publish.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Greta: I want to thank Fiona for inviting me here. I’ve enjoyed my visit and hope everyone has learned a little about me and my books. I love to meet new people and welcome any comments you readers may have. If you have any questions or want any more information, please feel free to contact me on Facebook or on my website http://booksbygretaburroughs.weebly.com
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Greta: Robert and I love to cruise the country roads on our motorcycle. It is so wonderful to get away from it all and just enjoy nature and each other’s company.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
If you want to add links: (universal Amazon links)
Gerald and the Wee People http://viewbook.at/weepeople
House on Bo-Kay Lane http://viewbook.at/bokaylane
Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat http://viewbook.at/patchyandcalico
Patchy and Calico’s Summer Vacation http://viewbook.at/summervacation
Christmas with Patchy and Calico http://viewbook.at/pdccchristmas
Heartaches and Miracles http://mybook.to/Heartaches
Greta is so lovely and supportive, and such a graceful writer. I really enjoyed hearing more about her and her work, and how she keeps going no matter what. Thank you, Fiona! And hopefully, Greta, you can get that yardwork done in a jif and get back to writing! 😀
Greta Burroughs said:
You are so sweet. Thank you for your nice compliments. Unfortunately the yardwork doesn’t end. There’s always something that has to done, but there are always rainy days….
Yvonne Hertzberger said:
Great interview, Greta. I keep learning more about you and liking you more as I do. 🙂
Greta Burroughs said:
Thank you, Yvonne,
I haven’t gotten to my deep dark secrets yet. 🙂