Today on the Blog Tour, we have Michael Burge as he talks about the concept and inspiration for his new book ‘Melding Spirits’. He also sheds some fun bookish facts and offers a piece of advice for aspiring authors. Come, read along and enter a chance to win a copy of Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge. Two winners will also get a $20 Amazon.com gift card (open to USA & Can).
Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.
In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.
He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.
Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.
Syllables of Swathi: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Michael E Burge: I worked in the computer field all my life. I began my career on the technical side of the business, as a programmer and systems analyst, but later transitioned to marketing and product management. As a kid, I was always building something, drawing, or writing, so I had envisioned a career as a writer, cartoonist, a graphic designer, something along those lines. As we all know, life doesn’t always progress as planned.
I had done some writing in high school, short stories, poetry, and later a few scripts in conjunction with my job, but it wasn’t until I retired that I began writing with purpose. Thus far, I’ve written two novels, Bryant’s Gap and Melding Spirits, and I am working on a third.
SOS: Where were you raised? Where do you live now? Do you have any pets?
MB: I grew up in two places, the suburbs of Chicago and a small town in Southern Illinois. The locations were starkly different, so I had wide-ranging experiences and knew a diverse group of people.
Regarding pets, we don’t have any at the moment, but I did have a few as a boy. I wanted a dog, but we always lived in an apartment and moved around a lot, so I had to settle for animals that took up little space and were portable, a chameleon, hamster, turtle, and a couple of birds. My favorite was a parakeet I named Budgie. The bird did a little talking and a lot of whistling. He was a member of the family for about three years. My mother put him on the porch one sunny day in June for a bit of fresh air, and a sudden wind came up and blew his cage off the railing. He flew to a nearby tree, sat for a minute or two, then headed west. Unfortunately, that was the last time we saw the little guy. Later in life, after my wife and I married, we got a dog, a lovable Airedale terrier we named Max. Max is long departed, but he makes an appearance in Melding Spirits.
My wife and I currently reside in Illinois along with most of our small family.
SOS: Tell us a bit about your book ‘Melding Spirits’. How long did it take for you to write it?
MB: I wrote Melding Spirits in about two months, then spent the next three months refining it. Most authors would agree, writing is all about rewriting. The biggest challenge is choosing the right words, deciding which ones to keep, which to discard, and making sure all the pieces of the story are in the correct order. Aside from that, writing is a piece of cake.
SOS: How did you come up with the concept for the book? Tell us about your inspiration.
MB: Melding Spirits is a coming-of-age story sprinkled with fictionalized backstories of people and places from my childhood. As is the case with many writers, there is a little of me in every chapter I write.
The basic idea for the story sprang from two distinct memories. There was an Indian mound in the little river town where we lived and, as a young boy, my friends and I would visit the mound and search for beads and arrowheads. I always saw it as a mysterious place, a place where you could feel the spirits of the native people who roamed the land centuries ago. I knew “the mound” needed to be an element in my story.
At about that same time, I had an encounter with the “mystery man.” I spotted him rolling down the street on his bicycle. He was perched on the handlebars, facing backward, looking over his shoulder to see where he was going as he pedaled nonchalantly along. To me, there was something a bit strange about the man. I only saw him that one time, but that image stayed in my mind. It later inspired me to write my coming of age story. He became the character, Riley Winslow.
SOS: Could you tell us an early experience you had, where you learned that language had power?
MB: Language is the medium we humans use to convey thoughts; thoughts conjure up images, and images bring forth all the emotions we experience each day of our lives. To offer a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place and in itself, It can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
By simply reading the printed word in a novel, we can make new friends, visit exotic places, and experience a full range of emotions. What is more powerful than that?
SOS: Do you have any unpublished and half-finished books?
MB: I have written several chapters of a new novel, but I’m struggling a bit at this point, trying to decide with whether or not I want to continue writing the story in the first person. The voice we use is a crucial element in the telling of a story. Hopefully, I will make my decision and be fully committed within the next few weeks.
SOS: Fun fact: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
MB: In Melding Spirits, there are references to the Native American culture and the lingering spirits of those who have departed this earth and become part of the aggregate. When reading the book, one should pay particular attention to the hawk. It’s a recurring symbol that represents power and vision. If you stay on the lookout as the story unfolds, you’ll encounter many references to spirits and the omnipresent raptor.
Regarding my first book, Bryant’s Gap, there are two major themes. One revolves around “the old west,” more specifically, the Lone Ranger and Tonto. There’s a reference to the Lone Ranger’s “creed” and many other allusions to the masked rider and his faithful companion. Some references are subtle. You may have to ponder for a while. Here are a couple of clues as to the type of thing you will find: Tonto rode a horse named “Scout.” The good guys in the old west wore “white hats.”
SOS: What are you working on currently? When can we expect your next book?
MB: As I mentioned in a couple of earlier interviews, I like setting my stories in the past, a simpler time, before advanced technology altered the way people interact.
I’ve been looking back at the decade of the sixties. It was an interesting period of history. I believe it would provide the perfect backdrop for my next novel. As I said, I hope to be fully committed within the next few weeks.
SOS: What are the most important magazines you’d advise writers to subscribe to?
MB: Nowadays, I don’t read many magazines. The one I do enjoy regularly is Suspense Magazine. It offers a variety of articles. The CEO, John Raab, does a great job with the magazine.
Genre: Literary fiction, Mystery, Coming of age
Published: March 2017, Michael E. Burge Publishing
Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.
Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.
Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.
It seems the perfect summer is underway—but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.
There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley—It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.
Prizes: Win Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge. Two winners will also get a $20 Amazon.com gift card (open to USA & Can / 7 winners total)(ends Feb 7, 2019)