Hi, Everyone! Today we welcome academic and author, Roger B. Burt. Roger has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His writing is mainly nonfiction, but recently, he has moved into the sphere of fiction. His fiction asks many deep questions as to where the world is heading, and his books mix realism and myth. If subjects such as climate change, women’s equality, and the right of all humans to have adequate food, water, healthcare and other basic human rights interest you, then you’ll enjoy this interview.
Welcome to Booktastik, Roger. We’re thrilled to be able to speak to you today.
You’ve written many nonfiction books, but Gaia’s Majesty—Mission Called: Women in Power is your first work of fiction. What caused this change?
You’re going to make me really think aren’t you Dionne?
Yes, yes I am ;).
The reason I say that is that the reason for change is often not at all apparent. Let me start here. My blog is https://www.cuspofreality.com. The title is the key. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type, which means I love to pursue possibilities and ask “what if?”. I don’t believe in living in a fixed world. Change is essential and that change includes our viewpoint. Psychologists used to think we were pretty much fixed entities when we reached adulthood. We learned better. I’ve written fiction previously but usually got diverted. Of more immediacy were issues such as the failed community mental health reform movement and the issues related to divorce and remarriage and all the adjustments the kids have to make. But now there are large emergent issues in our society which is sending me into fiction. For the moment, I’ll leave it there.
Did you start this book with a story or the message behind the story?
Yikes! I guess it was the message. Then the story emerged along with a bunch of insistent characters. But once I had a general story, I used Dara Marks’ Transformational Arc to give it substance and movement.
Was there much research needed to write this book?
Oh, not much. Just several decades foraging in the world and my fascination with mythology. I had always been intrigued by the pervasive myth of mermaids, both loving and fearsome. Actually, I had to do some research for specifics. I wanted cities in the sea and so started looking at myths in various sections of the world. It turns out myths about lost or magical islands are not at all uncommon and they often have names. Thonis is the name of a supposedly lost island in the Mediterranean and Vineta is the name of a lost island in the Baltic Sea. They were irresistible. And then there was the matter of women warriors. I thought it was all myth and then I learned about the women who were real Amazons in the ancient world.
That sounds super interesting. I feel like researching myths now lol.
Can you tell us what the book is about?
I suppose this question leads me to a question for the reader. After reading a book, are you clear what the book is about for you? I think each person may resonate to something different even within the same book.
At another level, I would say it is about the great wave of change which is just now beginning to break across our planet. We have an information technology revolution in process, our economic systems are in flux, and there are swiftly developing crises that may be hideously destructive or beautifully transformative. And in the midst of it all, we are seeing the empowerment of women breaking on the shore. I can only imagine what that empowerment may bring to grace our lives. The book is only one variant of the story of humankind which may be emerging.
The book seems to sit between genres—fantasy, women’s fiction and contemporary fiction. Why did you choose to present the story in this way?
Yes, it does fall between genres, which was a problem when I had to decide what to call the category. There is a contemporary reality setting initially (although I don’t believe in a rigid, fixed reality) and the fantasy part permits the exploration of alternatives. And, of course, there is my support of feminism, which leads us over to women’s fiction. It was difficult to fit it into a category because of my intuitive personality.
What does the cover represent?
I guess I have to plead innocence. I think it is a projective device for people to see what they need to see. But, of course, the eye on the cover draws us in. Perhaps it is our Earth Mother, Gaia, watching over us and demanding our attention as we move into high magnitude social and environmental crises.
What do you enjoy more: writing fiction or nonfiction?
My nonfiction works had specific foci and purposes. But I find fiction so much more rewarding because of the creative alternatives and that where you start may not be where you end up.
What are you working on at the moment?
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power is the first book of the trilogy. I’ve written book 2 and have a draft of book 3. I’m revising book 2 presently and fighting off what may be a book 4. The Andromeda women are also being insistent, and there just may be a book for each of them.
Some say books are there just as an escape, others say it’s to open people’s eyes to different lives or to impart a message. What do you think the most important job of an author is?
Both of those possibilities are valid but others as well. I guess I would say the job of the author is to pursue their chosen vision and mission. Each outcome will be a gift to one person or another. I guess that means we should not confine ourselves.
Gaia’s Majesty is quite an original work. What has reader feedback been like?
Feedback has been interesting and is a lesson for authors. People see different things. Some women love the fact that the women are empowered and others are offended that in the opening book I have some of the Andromeda women pursue their mission as consorts with Overlords. On occasions some people don’t like the fantasy element. The story will go on to a broader scope and I think over time there we be a lot for people to like and not like. That is just how it has to be.
In conclusion, let me say this: I’ve had to think in response to these questions and try not to ramble on. I guess at the end, I have to say that fiction has a broad audience and we have to allow for the richness of the variability. It’s an opportunity to go exploring and accepting that we will love some things and not others. When I read reviews, I find it unfortunate that people will excoriate something which is simply not their cup of tea. People have very different personalities and orientations and will love some things and dislike others. But in the exploration we enrich our lives and turn pages of experience. It is the wonder of what we may uncover that enriches our lives not just in fiction but in what we seek during our lifetime.
I agree with you—the reader will attribute the meaning and it always comes from their experiences, and, of course, we all like and dislike different things, but reading definitely can enrich our lives :).
Thank you so much for enriching our lives today with this thoughtful interview. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about Gaia’s Majesty. And thanks for spending some time at Booktastik.
You can find Roger on his Website: Cusp of Reality and Facebook: Roger.B.Burt.PhD. If you’d like to check out Roger’s insightful, thought-provoking books, visit Amazon (you can click on the book cover below).
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