Monday, May 14, 2018

Blog Tour / Interview: Rebecca Burrell, Author of 'At Shutter Speed' @raburrell #meettheauthor

In her own fictional world, Rebecca Burrell is a secret Vatican spy, a flight nurse swooping over the frozen battlefields of Korea, or a journalist en-route to cover the latest world crisis. In real life, she’s a scientist in the medical field. She lives in Massachusetts with her family, two seriously weird cats, and a dog who’s convinced they’re taunting him.



Author: Rebecca Burrell
Publisher: Cranesbill Press
Pages: 381
Genre: Women’s Fiction

In the click of a shutter, #Resistance becomes more than just a hashtag.
Pass the bar exam. Convince someone—anyone—in the Egyptian government to admit they’ve imprisoned your husband. Don’t lose your mind. For fledgling human rights attorney Leah Cahill, the past six months have been a trial by fire, ever since Matty, a respected but troubled war photojournalist, disappeared during a crackdown in Cairo.

Leah, the daughter of a civil rights icon, grew up wanting to change the world; Matty was the one who showed her she could. Though frustrated by the US government’s new fondness for dictators, she persists, until a leaked email reveals a crumbling democracy far closer to home.

Risking her own freedom, she gains proof Matty’s being detained at a U.S. ‘black site’, stemming from his work covering the refugee crisis in Syria. Armed with his photo archives, Leah plunges into their past together, a love story spanning three continents. She uncovers secrets involving Matty’s missionary childhood, her own refugee caseload, and the only story the deeply principled reporter ever agreed to bury. It’s what got him captured—and what might still get him killed. With Leah’s last chance to save him slipping away, Matty’s biggest secret may be one he’s willing to die to protect.


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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

This is going to sound strange, but it was my horrible tenth grade English teacher. In school, I was more of a math/science geek, a type of student he took great pleasure in tormenting. Then one day, he gave us a creative writing assignment (*cue Hallelujah chorus*). I wrote a short story about a female student who takes a stand against a new locker search policy. It surprised me, how much I got into it – something about the character’s activism made me want to be braver myself, I think. It must’ve worked, because Horrible English Teacher subsequently handed back to me with a lone, uncommented ‘A’ and a scowl. Until then, I’d never written anything other than a report or essay, but it definitely lit the fire for me.

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

Unfortunately when I was in school, those discouraging messages kept coming, along with a steady diet of colonial white male authors, and it beat the love of reading and writing out of me for a while. I was probably in my late twenties when that started to change. I started reading again, (my own choices this time) and was immediately struck by how much I’d missed it. Stories started coming into my head more frequently, begging to be written. At Shutter Speed, my first published novel, was one of them. The main characters, a human rights lawyer and her missing conflict photographer husband, have the same activist fire as my long-ago Fourth Amendment-defending teen, and I found such joy in writing them.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

Turns out my old English teacher was correct about me being a ‘techie’ – I have a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, and I work in medical R&D. It actually makes a great companion to my writing career, as I get to exercise both halves of my brain, and I can at least pretend I know what I’m talking about when I decide to write a character with a medical specialty.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

1.      Find a community. Writing can be so lonely at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Join a crit group, connect with other writers on social media… whatever works for you. Your mental health will thank you in the long run.
2.      Speaking of mental health, take care of yours. Especially if you’re someone prone to depression, don’t neglect self-care and reach out to others (including professionals) when you need it.
3.      Learn to recognize the voice of your inner editor, and learn to recognize when you need to listen and when you need to ignore it.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

Oh dear dog, yes. My aforementioned inner editor is a giant meaniepants, and I have an unfortunate habit of letting her talk me out of moving forward on a story for ridiculous stretches of time.

Are you an avid reader?

Yes! And a very scattered one. I tend to read a mixture of historical fiction, spy novels, and Romance (a genre I never used to read, but I’m probably reading 5 or 6 a month these days)

What are you reading now?

A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole, and Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on two different books right now, both in the same fictional world as At Shutter Speed. The first, titled Resurrecting Micah, is set in Jerusalem and the West Bank, about an interfaith couple involved in the peace movement, and the second is about a pair of millennials who’ve been caught up in an episode of gun violence and decide to leave the US for life as ex-pat humanitarians.

Thanks for having me!

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