Interview with Sue Burke
Sue Burke lives and writes in Madrid. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, much of her career was spent as a reporter and editor, covering everything from dog shows to politics to crime. She began writing fiction twenty years ago and have published short stories in various magazines and anthologies, as well as poetry and non-fiction. Her current project is a translation of the medieval fantasy story, Amadis of Gaul.
BRoP: When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?
Sue: I got my first paying writing job when I was 17, working for the local newspaper. I had begun writing long before that in one way or another, for school publications and friends' zines. I wanted to become a writer as soon as I knew writers existed, even before I knew how to read, because my mother had explained that someone wrote those books she read to me.
For me, the only question has been how much of my income comes from writing -- at times, all of it, at other times, very little -- but I have always been dedicated to executing the craft of writing in all its aspects to the absolute best of my ability. So I have always considered myself a professional writer.
BRoP: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
Sue: My absolute favorite is science fiction, but I've also written fantasy, horror, and mainstream. And poetry, especially haiku. And lots of journalism, since for many years that was my day job: covering everything from serial murders to municipal budgets to emu farming.
BRoP: How did you get interested in Spanish language and history?
Sue: The only foreign language my junior high school offered was Spanish, and it seemed like a useful thing to learn, so I began studying when I was 12 years old. I kept it up throughout high school and college and beyond. The study of a language leads to its literature and culture, with all the amazing lessons that those entail. Learning another language makes your world twice as big.
BRoP: Why did you move to Spain?
Sue: My husband and I had always wanted to live overseas to experience a different culture, and we decided that a truly different culture would be one that didn't speak English. Since the only language we spoke was Spanish, that narrowed down our choices. He got a chance to work in Madrid, and even though we had never visited Spain, we moved there in December 1999.
We still had to take Spanish classes -- it takes years to learn a foreign language well enough to have surgery in a Spanish-language hospital, for example. (Nothing major, but it was an interesting language test.) Soon after arriving, we found other writers and Spanish science fiction fans, and we began to see how Spain's culture is truly different, and why.
BRoP: If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Sue: Editor. It's great fun and surprisingly creative. However, right now I teach English to Spanish teenagers. That's an educational experience for them and for me.
Where can your readers stalk you?
- Website: http://sue.burke.name
- Blog: http://amadisofgaul.blogspot.com
- Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amadis-of-Gaul/112253615569385
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1466475714/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
Is your book in print, ebook or both? Both!
AMADIS OF GAUL: In medieval times, troubadours and poets recounted tales of knights-errant. They fought evildoers and magical beings, and each knight served his lady in accordance with the rules of chivalric love. Amadis of Gaul is the most famous tale of chivalry from Spain. The novel, divided into four books, recounts the life of Amadis, the greatest knight in the world. This is Book I of the novel. It became the Renaissance’s best-selling literary phenomena. It went through 19 reprintings, was translated into 7 languages, and spawned 44 direct sequels, as well as fueling an entire genre, complete with fan fiction. Jousts were revived with theatrical pageantry, and “knights” came in the guise of their favorite characters. This is a new translation. It leaves nothing out, will carry you back in time to enjoy this transcendent, delightful adventure. It includes a preface, introduction, notes to chapters, and an appendix discussing the relationship between Amadis of Gaul and Don Quixote. Amadis of Gaul is one of the pillars of European fiction. It opens a window not only to a wondrous fictional world but to the real medieval world that produced it.