Interview with Author Dan Buri

My guest today is Dan Buri.  Hello!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

        Pieces Like Pottery is an intertwined group of stories that was released on October 2, 2015. There are nine stories in all. The five core stories are slightly longer than typical short stories—they’re 10,000+ words each. I debated for quite some time whether to create a novel out of each or whether to keep them as a set of short stories. This current book is the result of seven years of writing and editing.

It’s available anywhere ebooks are sold (Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.). I hope that it will be released in print sometime next year, but only time will tell. It needs to first receive support from wonderful readers like those you have here. 

How lucky are we to have Marie and her wonderful site? Doesn’t she do a great job? I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be interviewed by you, Marie!

Oh, thank you so much! That's sweet of you to's certainly my pleasure to have you here. I love meeting new people, and helping out my fellow authors. ;)

So, tell us, Dan...
Is there anything that prompted Pieces Like Pottery? Something that inspired you?

Great question. I wouldn’t say that there was any one moment that prompted me to write this book, but these stories constantly bubble inside of me. As writers, I think the challenge is taking the stories from our head and our heart and putting them on the page. A lot of people have stories, but not everyone can communicate them effectively and clearly. It’s the great challenge of the writer.

It definitely is!  And I get what you mean by the constant bubble...the never-ending stream is what keeps us going, I think.


So, tell us. When did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?


I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them as a kid nearly 30-years ago:

I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.

Ha! I didn’t say it was any good! I don’t remember any more than that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I even remember those lines.

The point is, writing has been something I have always enjoyed myself and admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft. My non-fiction work has been published in print and online at a lot of places over the years. My wife and I actually had a fairly well-regarded blog called Buris On the Couch a few years back. We would pick a narrow subject each week and then write He Says/She Says takes on that subject. We really enjoyed doing it, but it became difficult to keep up and we had to shut it down once we had our daughter. This is my first venture into the world of fiction, though. I have written fiction since I was a teenager, but this is my first published work.

Great!  I love to hear about how an author got started! :)


Do you have any favorite authors, Dan?


I feel like this is the question that readers and writers always ask in a judgmental way. It’s as if your readers are going to judge me by the authors I enjoy. “Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. John Grisham? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing.” I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen. I think people tend to have the same judgmental approach about their music preferences too.

In no particular order: Gertrude Warner, Shell Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Malcolm Gladwell, John Buri, Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson and Mark Twain…to name a few.

Well, I'm not going to judge! LOL.


Let's try another question.


Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?


Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. With a very demanding job, a wife, and two-year-old daughter, however, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.

I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising than it is about writing itself. I have so many pages of Pieces Like Pottery on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me. Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby.

That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a whiskey. 

Writing can certainly be relaxing!  And like you, I know that editing is simply a necessary evil...;)


Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?


Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)

1.     When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.

2.     Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages us that our work is not going to be good when we’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.

3.     Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.

So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.

All great advice, Dan! Thank you for offering those words of wisdom. 
And thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age.  It was so nice having you!  :)
Readers, here is the blurb for Pieces Like Pottery.
The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, Pieces Like Pottery is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.

Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. In "Expect Dragons", James Hinri learns that his old high school teacher is dying. Wanting to tell Mr. Smith one last time how much his teaching impacted him, James drives across the country revisiting past encounters with his father's rejection and the pain of his youth. Disillusioned and losing hope, little did James know that Mr. Smith had one final lesson for him.

In "The Gravesite", Lisa and Mike's marriage hangs in the balance after the disappearance of their only son while backpacking in Thailand. Mike thinks the authorities are right—that Chris fell to his death in a hiking accident—but Lisa has her doubts. Her son was too strong to die this young, and no one can explain to her why new posts continue to appear on her son's blog.
"Twenty-Two" looks in on the lives of a dock worker suffering from the guilt of a life not lived and a bartender making the best of each day, even though he can see clearly how his life should have been different. The two find their worlds collide when a past tragedy shockingly connects them.

A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, Pieces Like Pottery reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.

Here is an excerpt.


From the short story "Expect Dragons"

Between the two notebooks was a sheet of paper. At the top it read: “40 Tips for College and Life.” On the last week of high school, Mr. Smith handed out his college advice, the same college advice I was now holding. I sat and read through each of them.

            40 Tips for College and Life

1.     Life's too short to not seize the opportunities with which we are presented. Always take the chance to do what you love when it comes along.
2.     Question authority. 
3.     Question those who question authority.
4.     Don’t be afraid to see dinosaurs even when everyone else around you doesn’t.
5.     Be kind. Kindness can change things far beyond your wildest dreams. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it's kindness that makes the heart grow softer.
6.     Walk barefoot through grass.
7.     Be quick to show compassion and empathy.
8.     Don’t dress like a bum all day long.
9.     Have a routine, but avoid being routine.
10.  Smile.
11.  We are all intelligent, thoughtful individuals. Don't let others tell you something has to be that way. It doesn't. The world is far too complex for it to have to be that way.
12.  Be conscious of the present. Time is your most valuable asset.
13.  It’s easy to doubt. Don’t be easy. Hold on to faith and hope.
14.  Love a little more. You can always love more.
15.  Don’t jump at the first chance to go out. There will always be another party. It’s college.
16.  Live with purpose.
17.  Not everything you do has to have a purpose. Folly can be quite satisfying.
18.  Don’t act like you know more than you actually do. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know the answer.
19.  Remember that the things you do know are of value. Don’t act like you know less than you do. Share your knowledge.
20.  Don’t spend each day only staring at a screen. Put down your phone. Close your laptop. Turn off your TV. 
21.  Share laughter. There's far too much that's funny out there to take yourself too seriously. 
22.  Share tears. There's far too much pain and hurt out there not to take others’ struggles seriously.
23.  Enjoy music.
24.  Remember to get lost in your mind from time to time. 
25.  Breathe slowly.
26.  Don’t be afraid to be alone. Everyone knows: “Not all who wander are lost.” Few realize: Not all who are alone are lonely.
27.  Take in the beauty of nature. Look around you. Don’t take it for granted.
28.  Take in the beauty of mankind. Look around you and see how wonderful your neighbor can be.
29.  Dance in the rain.
30.  There will come a time in college, and in life, when you are presented with decisions that compromise your values. Know how you will respond to those times before they ever happen.
31.  Have resolve.
32.  Share excitement when you’re excited. People that hold that against you are most likely projecting their own feelings of inadequacy.
33.  Remember to read, and something more than a blog. Pick up a book from time to time.
34.  There is only one you.
35.  Laugh hard, kiss softly, disparage slowly, and forgive quickly.  
36.  Eat fully, drink deeply, and always remember to give often.
37.  Decide what you believe, know who you are and live accordingly. Don't apologize to anyone for that.
38.  But if you realize later on that you were wrong, admit it. Ask forgiveness.

39.  Maya Angelou has a great quote: "If I'd known better, I'd have done better." We can only do the best we know how, but there's no excuse for not striving to attain the know-how. And there's certainly no excuse for not doing better once we have it. 
40.  Expect Dragons. 

I stared at the list thinking about how influential Mr. Smith was in my life. At a time late in my high school career when I felt lost and alone, he inspired me to believe life was full of wonder and hope. Now, just two hours before, I found out he was dying. I placed the list back into its box and slid into the front seat of my borrowed car. It was 4:25 in the afternoon and I eased the car onto the I-84 heading east, on my way to say goodbye to my beloved teacher one last time.  

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Sounds very interesting! 



Author Bio


Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.

Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well-regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

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