Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased
to have as our guest, Barbara C. Burgess. Barbara is the author of
the young adult fantasy book The Magic Manuscript: Book One –
Voyage to Eve Ilion which was published last year by Piraeus Books.
She did her BA honours degree at McGill University, (her thesis was
on George MacDonald), and did graduate studies in medieval English
literature at McGill. Her book was reviewed by a former student of C.
S. Lewis. She is an English teacher, freelance editor and writer, and
a book reviewer. Barbara has contributed articles, judged in writing
competitions, and written a health column for various
Good day Barbara and thanks for participating in our interview
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
I started writing poems
and stories when I was very young, inspired by my love of literature
and encouraged by wonderful teachers and parents. I began writing The
Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion, my first novel,
in my twenties, not long after I finished my academic studies in
I had immersed myself in medieval English
literature at McGill University and was particularly fascinated by
Arthurian legend, reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in
When I began writing my novel, I was initially giving
my own rendition of the legend of King Arthur, something many writers
have been drawn to do in the past. As years went by, the tale
changed. I decided to develop the chapters that described the magical
island of Eve Ilion and make Eve Ilion the focus of the book. The
story went through many revisions and titles. In 2011, I sent out a
query letter for it and received interest from four different
publishers. What kept me going in writing this novel in particular
was a sense that this was a wonderful tale that I wanted to
Do you work from an outline? Do you write from your own experiences?
Yes, I always have a rough outline of my novels, novellas, and stories, and I do a lot of research before I write, but I also allow the story to fundamentally write itself. I am often surprised where the story leads me. It’s hard to describe the creative process, because it is a total immersion in imaginative thinking. I know that my own experiences seep into my writing, and when I write I consciously draw on the feelings and experiences I have had; this provides more tangibility to the ideas and characters I am creating. I find that characters have a life of their own. I usually identify with one of the characters, but I try not to be too subjective when I write.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
I grew up in the then predominantly English-speaking community of Westmount in Quebec, Canada, and was one of those kids who loved school, perhaps because I was fortunate to almost always have exceptional teachers who encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a writer.
I attended an alternative high school called M.I.N.D. that
had been created in Montreal. I participated in it during its first
two years of existence. At the time, the school was situated on the
corner of St Viateur and Park Avenue. The school not only introduced
me to people of different backgrounds and cultures, it allowed me to
learn at my own speed and work on my writing in particular.
At university, I found myself studying not so much for academic credit as for the opportunity to immerse myself in reading and experiencing the classics of literature. Even as a child, I loved to read. I had read the Lord of the Rings by age eleven, loved mythology, loved fantasy stories, and loved writing up my own tales of fantasy.
What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?
think it has opened up wonderful opportunities for writers, readers,
editors, and publishers. One thing it has done is allow people to
write or edit for clients and readers around the world. I have met
some inspired and inspiring fellow writers, artists, publishers, and
fellow editors via the internet. We have much to offer one another in
terms of our experience and love of literature. Of course, there is
the commercial aspect, something not to be neglected.
Newly published authors are expected to do a lot of promotional work for themselves, and I find that this has led me to become acquainted with numerous intelligent, insightful people. I was thrilled that Paul Nnodim, my publisher at Piraeus Books LLC, decided to publish my book as an e-book half a year after it came out in paperback. I think e-books are affordable and wonderful to read; having said that, I still value paperback and hardcover books.
In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
How much is too much? If anyone is hurt
through one’s writing process, then to me that is an indication
that it is too much. A long time ago, I visited Mawgan Porth in
Cornwall, England, and I drew on memories of its natural beauty when
I painted scenes in my novel set in the small town in Cornwall.
However, I made sure to mention at the beginning of the book that
none of the characters or events portrayed in my book referred to
actual people or events.
That’s perhaps easier to do when writing a fantasy. One can take certain liberties when one writes fantasy literature, but even though I write in the fantasy genre, I like to do research, as well, so as to lend more authenticity to the places and characters I portray in writing. For example, my novel begins with the two main characters spending the Christmas holidays in Mawgan Porth. They travel back to two previous time periods and revisit Cornwall. I did a lot of general and specific research about typical medieval names, modes of travel in the middle ages, and so forth, so that the chapters set in the middle ages would have the genuine flavour of medieval times.
Can you share a little of The Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion work with us?
The book is set in three
time periods: modern, medieval, and Anglo-Saxon. On December 21,
2012, the two main characters, Arthur and Jennifer, stumble across a
medieval magic manuscript. Paul Piehler, who studied with C.S. Lewis
and knew him personally at Oxford, best sums up The Magic Manuscript:
Voyage to Eve Ilion. He writes: “… Arthur and Jennifer are two
young Brits enjoying a Christmas holiday down in the ancient Cornish
village of Mawgan Porth … But the action begins seriously when they
come across a mysterious, normally inaccessible, cave, where they
discover an ancient medieval manuscript that has the ultimate
literary quality of mysteriously drawing readers into the actual
lives and adventures of its heroes and heroines … [Arthur and
Jennifer] are helped by a guide of mysterious powers (Merlin in
various incarnations), undergo a sea voyage to a magical kingdom,
face down dragons and enchantresses, overcome trial by seduction, and
are assisted in the acquisition of magical powers and weapons from
the wise, beneficent Lady Eve (the Lady of the Lake), acquisitions
that play decisive roles in this adventure, and the adventures, as we
are promised, to come.”
Why have you been drawn to fantasy?
I’m a highly imaginative person, so it’s easy for me to write fantasy. As a youth, I devoured fantasy books, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi trilogy and Narnia series, and Madeleine L’ Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series. I was fortunate enough to exchange a few letters with Madeleine L’ Engle many years ago. She encouraged me to write and pursue my dreams as a writer.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing The Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion?
I learned that revision can be a creative process. Instead of viewing the act of editing a book as an obligation, I came to see that revision is indeed re-vision: reviewing and refining one’s language so that it reflects one’s inner vision in creation.
Where can our readers find out more about you and The Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion?
My WEBSITE On my homepage are posted
reviews, links to interviews, and sample pages of the novel.
I also have a BLOG The Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion was published as a paperback and as an e-pub in the USA by Piraeus Books LLC and is available at Piraeus Books.Amazon, Chapters, Indigo and Barnes & Noble.
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered and what is next for Barbara C. Burgess?
I’ve completed the
second novel in The Magic Book series. It’s a fair bit longer and
has many more characters and adventures. I’m currently sending the
novel out to agents and publishers. I’m eager to start writing the
third book in the series.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Thanks so much, Norm.
Follow Here To Purchase The Magic Manuscript: Book One - Voyage to Eve Ilion