27 June, 2012

Interview :: Benjamin David Burell

You have a chance to get your hands on a Paperback Copy of "Red Leaves & the Living Token". Enter yourself in my 250 Follower Giveaway where 2 copies of this book is up for grabs!!

About the Book
Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won't survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he's confronted by Moslin, his son's nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse's stories, and he'll live. In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing. Now, he has to dig into the loathed fairytales to figure out where they may have gone. He’d also like to know why he keeps blacking out and having visions of a temple on a mountain with a vat of glowing weapons, a vaporous black creature emerging from a lightning storm, himself in glowing armor leading an army, and the same mythical Red Tree hidden in a dense forest.

Interview with the Author
DDS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in South Jordan, Utah with my wife and three children. I graduated from film/animation school about ten years ago. Since then I've worked on a few live action films and a few animated films. Currently I'm the VFX supervisor at small production studio in Utah.

DDS: What got you into writing?  
I think the oldest, most concrete impression that I have of what I wanted to do with my life came from MTV's Liquid Television. When they first started, they showed animated shorts that were mind blowing cool, not like anything you'd see in a normal venue. The one I remember most was about a street sweeper who so aggressively cleaned his street that the reveal at the end showed that he'd been sweeping everything into the sewer. Cars, people, anything that left a mess. After watching these, a light turned on and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to write crazy little stories and then make them into short animations.
Well, I did. I made a six minute short about a friendly little man that lives in a bitter old man's thumb. That led to making a slew of live action short films (they're much easier to make.) Which led to wanting to make feature length live action films. I spent the next 5 years writing script after script after script. Unfortunately, the stories that I was writing, the stories that got me excited, were still the same kind of stories from those MTV Liquid Television animations. They were crazy and bizarre and impossible to make as a first time, low budget feature film.
Well after a few years I finally realized that all those stories that really didn't work as scripts would make fantastic Novels.   

DDS: Tell us about your book
Red Leaves and the Living Token was a story I started writing about ten years ago. I know this may sound dumb and a lot of people probably say this, but it’s the best way I can describe the origins of the story. I had this bizarre dream about a little glowing plant in the forest that had this thicket of underbrush protecting it. There were these warthog like people guarding it. And then there were these plant like people who attacked them to try and steal the plant as they all believed it was some sort of mythical creature.
Eventually that grew into the full story. The main characters and their plight grew around that core idea of an otherworldly being that was tangible for them. They worshiped it yet they could actually go and see it.

DDS: What was the hardest part about writing the book? 
The hardest part of writing the story was bringing it up to the level of realism and intrigue that I had felt in my dream. There the story had been so vivid and the purposes of the people and the relationships all made sense. It took me a long time and a lot of experimenting to build up the rest of the world so that it all fit together logically. 

DDS: What are your writing pet peeves?  
If I don't write consistently, I forget so much that it takes a great deal of time and effort to soak the story back up into my mind. I hate that.

DDS: Who is your favorite Character? (one of your own creation – published/unpublished) 
I'm going to say that I have a favorite character type rather than a specific character. I've found that I'm drawn to the characters who know how they should act or what they should do yet they struggle to actually do it. I relate to that.

DDS: Now time for some fun facts about you. If you were to be stranded on the famous ‘Deserted Island’, what three things would you want with you?
I think I tend to be a bit pragmatic. There's a machine that can convert the humidity in the air into drinking water. I'd want that with some solar panels to power it. Next I'd want a satellite phone with GPS so I could let people know I was stranded on a deserted island and then give them the GPS coordinates. I'd probably want a gun or a knife so I could kill some fish to eat. Oh, and a solar cooker to cook the fish. That's three, right?
DDS: If ‘End of the World’ was fast approaching and you were held responsible for choosing the 5 books to be saved… which 5 books would you choose?
I'm a bit religious, so if the end of the world was coming I'd definitely want things to keep my and everyone else's spirits up. I'd say the first would be scriptures. Wait... I think that's a movie. (Book of Eli)
The second book I'd want to save would be a printed copy of Wikipedia. Does that count? I think the encyclopedia Britannica went out of print. I could be wrong. Wikipedia would have a good cross section of human knowledge. Otherwise how would post-apocolyptic generations know who Justin Beber was.
The third book I'd want to take would be something very comprehensive about gardening. I imagine we'd all be growing our own food if society collapsed. My uncle lent me a book that had incredible detail about every possible facet of plant heal and food production. Like soil preparation, keeping bugs from killing plants, ect...
The Fourth book, I'd probably want something on constitutions, liberty and government. We'd need to form some kind of government with the survivors of the apocalypse. As you can see, I'm ill prepared for the end of the world. I don't know the exact titles.
The Fifth book would be some Tolstoy. Because if you only had one book of fiction, you'd want it to be the longest book possible.

DDS: One thing readers would be surprised to know about you…  
I'm six foot five.

DDS: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy?  
I have three kids. I love that I get to do stupid kid things again with them. It’s great, you get to make time in your day just to play.

DDS: What's the one thing that you want your readers to take away from this book?
Right and wrong is not a one-time event. People who do good things early in life can still ruin it later in life. People who do bad thing early in life can still turn around and make different choices. It sounds obvious to read, but I think in real life we're naturally quick to judge, and incredibly stubborn to change those judgments. I think that applies for ourselves as well. It’s hard to change our own self view. 

DDS: Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
Thanks for reading! I'm working hard to kick out the next book in the Red Leaves series.

About the Author
Benjamin Burrell graduated from film school a little over a decade ago and has been writing screenplays and shorts ever since. He produced and directed of few of his stories as short films and won a handful of awards in film festivals across the country.
Due to the limited nature of screenplays, both in terms of length and feasibility of production, he decided to develop one his most intricate and expansive stories into the Novel, "Red Leaves and the Living Token." With its successful completion, he plans to bring many more of his stories to the Novel form, starting with two more, at least, in the "Red Leaves" series.
He currently lives in South Jordan, Utah, with his beautiful wife and three perfectly behaved children.

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  1. Wow, sounds like a great book. A 6'5" writer? That's awesome. :) Great interview.

  2. I don't feel like I'm that tall until I see photos of myself standing next to people. There was an episode of Monk where a suspect was 6'3". Monk says only %.05 of the population are above 6'3". Yeah, that made me feel freakishly tall.

    If anyone has any questions for me I'll try and drop in over the next few days and answer them.