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Artist of the Week – Frank Burton

February 5, 2011 by · 1 comment

Interview by Yana Radilova with the writer Frank Burton


Frank Burton: “I’d like to think there’s no limit to anyone’s imagination.”

Do you remember your first steps in writing?

The first proper writing I did was at the age of about eight or nine. I started writing humorous poems, which were pretty good for a child of that age. From that point on, I wanted to be a writer, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

Did you like reading fiction when you were a child?

Yes, but not as much as I do now. As a child I preferred TV. My favorite show was Dr Who, and my favorite fiction books were the Dr Who novelizations.

Why did you give up poetry?

A year or so ago, I was in the middle of recording a second performance poetry album, and writing a lot of fiction at the same time. I came to a point where I realized I was an OK poet, but fiction writing was my real strength. The poetry album wasn’t bad, but I think the best thing to do is focus on what I’m really good at.

What are the main qualities for a fiction writer?

Fiction should have a purpose. It could be a work of art, or a piece of entertainment, or a means of conveying a “message” – or it could be all three of these things. The only bad fiction is fiction that doesn’t serve any purpose at all. The main two qualities a writer should have – whatever kind of writer they are – is firstly to have a purpose, and secondly to have the ability to achieve what they set out to achieve – or at least attempt it in an interesting way.


What is your main source of inspiration?

Probably real life. The Prodigals is a realist novel, and a lot of the characters are based on people I’ve met. My short story collection, A History of Sarcasm, contains a lot of surreal work, but the stories are still rooted in my own experiences to a certain extent.

Are you influenced by any great authors?

Yes, lots. George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut, Paul Auster, Angela Carter, Hanif Kureishi. The list goes on.

Is fiction needed in the day’s routine?

Absolutely. None of us can live without it. We don’t just get fiction from books, TV and films. People exchange stories with friends every day. People tell lies every day as well. There’s no getting away from fiction.

Have you ever suffered from a lack of inspiration?

Thankfully not. I’ve got a lot of ideas and not enough time to write them all down. (If I were superstitious I’d be touching wood right now.)

What about your imagination? Does it have any limits?

I’d like to think there’s no limit to anyone’s imagination.

In your novel “The Prodigals” you write about troubles, difficult situations, antiheroes. Do your characters change their lives in the end?

The characters certainly change their lives in the end – the question is, are they changed for the better?


You are also a founder of the web site What is the main idea of this site?

The purpose of Philistine Press is to publish some great ebooks for free online. So far we’ve published nine poetry collections, a humour title, two novellas, a novel and a flash fiction collection. Not bad considering we’ve only been around for a year.

How do you choose which books to be presented on your site?

Decisions are made my myself and two other editors. If something works, I can usually tell within the first couple of pages. We’re looking for quality writing that grabs your attention from the start and won’t let you go.

Do you compare your fictions with the literary works of other writers?

I think it’s important to do that to a certain extent, but it’s more important to follow your own path. The main reason I compare my work to the work of others is to examine whether or not it’s sufficiently different from other writers. If it’s not, there’s a problem.

What are your future plans?

I’m currently writing another short story collection, which is going to be very different to the two books I’ve written previously. I don’t want to be the kind of writer who rewrites the same book over and over again.

Give some advice to all readers of Public Republic!

If you’re a writer, the best way of getting better at it is to keep on doing it. And if you’re a reader, keep on reading!

Frank Burton is an award-winning fiction writer and creator of the new digital publishing company, Philistine Press.
His short story collection, A History of Sarcasm was published in 2009.

Frank Burton was born in Lancashire in 1979, and started writing from an early age. His fiction has been published widely in the UK, Australia and USA. He is the winner of the 2003 Philip LeBrun Prize for Creative Writing. In 2008, he completed his MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, which he passed with Distinction.

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