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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spotlight on Terry Burns -- Westerns King

In a world where the 'lit' books and mystery/suspense seem to be grabbing hold of the general readership at large, today's spotlight author manages to maintain a stronghold in what some might consider a "bygone" genre. However, just like the "good old days" when a handshake was all you needed to seal a deal, Terry Burns' books take you into a world of adventure that makes it difficult to break away and return to real life.

Terry is a 5th generation Irish storyteller who is a 4th generation Texas bullshipper. His Mysterious Ways Series from River Oak Publishing began with the book that bears that name. The second, Brothers Keeper came out Feb 1 and Shepherd's Son just came out. That gives him 24 books in print counting the nonfiction and short story collections plus Mysterious Ways which was just published in Russian. Other fiction includes Trails of the Dime Novel, a trade paperback from Echelon Press and in audio from JBS Publishing. To Keep a Promise and, Don't I Know You? trade paperbacks from The Fiction Works are both scheduled for audio books this year. He has published over 200 articles and short stories, is in a short story collection Coastal Villages Press entitled "Straight from the heart - stories of love and friendship," the second volume entitled "More stories of love and friendship", one entitled "Living by Faith" from Obidiah Press, in Heartwarming Christmas Stories from River Oak in November as is Cup of Comfort for Weddings, and he has a story in Soul Matters for Men from Thomas Nelson. Terry has published four nonfiction books and has a small book of cowboy poetry entitled Cowboys Don't Read Poetry. His available works as well as a daily blog can be found at

Make sure you comment on this post for a chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of Terry's latest book, SHEPHERD'S SON.

1. Book three in your Mysterious Ways series successfully captures the essence of the cowboy life. An age-old dilemma of a shepherd clashing with cattle ranchers, and you pull it off with wit, wisdom, adventure and a dose of reality. Where did you get the inspiration for this particular story?

My daughter came in from a women's retreat and she was really enthused about a message comparing sheep to a spiritual flock. She knew the Bible did that a lot but she had never really grasped the full impact of it, that sheep are one of the few animals who are completely helpless without their shepherd. Even a rabbit has some defense, but not a sheep. I caught her enthusiasm and wanted to use it, but it also occurred to me what a totally different story being a shepherd was in the late 1800's when sheep were introduced to cow country. Mixing the themes produced quite an interesting story.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I know all of my characters come from deep inside of me and embody much of what I think and feel, but once they start becoming real they take on lives of their own. I often have characters think and know things that I did not know before I started thinking with their head. They fight me for control of the story and generally win. I never write my faith into my stories, the characters have or don't have faith and just as God works in the lives of living beings causing them to interact and serve his purposes, I know he is causing interaction between the characters, and that interaction is what brings any faith content to my stories.

3. What themes exist in Shepherd's Son that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

A theme that no one is beyond redemption. The part that developed as the story went along is the fact that I thought the redemption was going to occur to somebody else. The person I intended it to happen to proved to be completely unreachable. I had no idea it was going to happen as it did, but it seemed the Lord began to work on one of the least likely people in the book with amazing results.

4. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

This story flowed so easily and so naturally that I hardly seemed to have any control over it at all so I would be hard pressed to pick a difficult part. My favorite part is when Jay gets the opportunity to tell the story of David as the shepherd boy who took on Goliath to some very young mexican shepherd boys who had never heard it, and the completely different way they looked at the story. It was delightful the way I watched that story unfold.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

I'm writing a mystery now. I thought it was a cozy, but it appears the concensus is that it isn't. I've got the first draft done and I'm ready to go back and work on it. It's the story of a missing person, a woman, and a rather unorthodox love triangle that develops around it. I haven't been working on it as much as I should. Joyce Hart recruited me to work with her as an agent at Hartline Literary, and I've been spending time getting up to speed in that capacity. I still intend to keep writing too, of course. Next out is actually a short story collection that I contributed to, A Cup of Comfort for Weddings, if you can believe an old cowboy would have something to contribute to that.

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Actually, Terry, I think a "cowboy" would have a lot to contribute. Thank you for being in the spotlight.


Jennifer Y. said...

Great interview! Shepherd's Son sounds fascinating!

Terry Burns said...

It was fun to write.

Jennifer Y. said...

Well, that is good to hear. I loved your inspiration for the story Terry.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm a little late commenting on this interview, but I hope I can still qualify. :-) Terry, I've read some of your other on-line interviews and followed your guest-blog at PastTimes. I've enjoyed getting a glimpse of who you are and can't wait to read one of your novels! Amber, thanks for another great interview and spotlighted author! :-)


Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Shauna and Jennifer, you both are 2 of the faithfuls here. Trying to muster up some more traffic and visitors to give others a chance at the free books. :)

This week, though, it goes to you, Shauna. Contact me and send me your mailing address so I can notify Terry. Thanks for your constant support.