Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

​Welcome to the 5 Minutes Series. Each week, I’ll ask five questions of some of my favorite authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals. This week I’m talking with Andrew Buckley.

  • Andrew Buckley is a traditionally published author of rather silly, yet enjoyable fiction for all ages. As an ex-pat Brit living in Canada, Andrew is a passionate nerd, movie-lover, avid reader, comic book geek, public speakerprofessional writer, and dances a mean cha-cha. He’s also the co-founder and instructor at Wordsmith Academy, an online writing school. (Ed. Note. He’s also delightfully funny and adorable)

What do you wish people knew about you?

I often think that I over-share a little. Everything that I’d like people to know about me, I’ve already put out there in the world. Everything I haven’t shared is either classified by various governments around the world, or it’s simply none of anyone’s business. Having said that, here’s a few random facts that I rarely share publicly:

  • I once shot a video of myself naked, reading the first chapter from my book, Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish. The fancy bits were covered by camera trickery and/or an adorable animated goldfish. The video was “leaked” onto the internet and resulted in increased book sales and a lot of odd looks. My literary agent at the time finally told me to take it down as I was about to release my first middle grade novel and apparently a naked, hairy, ex-pat Brit is considered “inappropriate”.
  • I love theatre and musicals. Like I loooooooovvveee them. I think live performance is one of the most amazing captivating things on the planet.
  • I identify as polyamorous. Which means I believe in lots of love for everyone!

Do you have a writing process and if so, what is it?

Most of the time it’s a blend of blind panic associated with a looming deadline. Admittedly, I tend to talk about writing more than I write. But in the last year I’ve completed a short story, added to two work-in-progress novels, and co-wrote a 4-issue comic book series, and a feature length screenplay. The process for each has been very different. If I’m writing to a deadline, I tend to plan out what I’ll write during the day (while doing something mindless like driving or showering (not at the same time)) and then I’ll write my pages at night. Co-writing is completed by regular in-person meetings and goal setting. I keep a busy schedule so most of the time it’s making notes and writing wherever I can fit it in. I keep telling myself I’ll go on a writer’s retreat one day and finish my WIPs, but I haven’t got there yet.

If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be and why?

I would be overjoyed if I could bend space and time. I could get to places quicker, if I need a breather I can just stop time, if I’m having an awkward encounter I can just POOF! and end the conversation or disappear. I’d love to be able to go anywhere in space and time whenever I want. So yeah, I want to be Doctor Who. Or maybe I want to be the TARDIS? Do I want to be a bio-cybernetic time travelling police box?! Maybe. Maybe I do . . .

What drew you to writing fairy tales?

The wondrously dark and gruesome original versions I discovered when I was a teenager really drew me to fairy tales. When I started writing and researching for my novel, STILTSKIN, I fell down the rabbit hole and have never returned. When I started speaking in schools, fairy tales were the ideal prism through which to teach people about story structure and the importance of complete character arcs. To this day, my Not So Happily Ever After Storytelling Workshop is still my most popular and requested writing workshop. While arguably, it’s also the simplest. (Ed. Note. I loved this workshop when I was lucky enough to take it. I got to be Prince Charming.)

What are you working on right now?

That’s such a loaded question these days that I’m not sure where to start. I have sequels to my first two novels marked as works in progress. I also have a sci-fi YA retelling of the Peter Pan mythos, and my first ever high-fantasy heist adventure that I’ve been working on for a while. I have two complete novels out to market with my literary agent and the third book in my werewolf series is in the process of being re-published as a self-published title. The comic book I co-wrote is now being illustrated and we get new pages every week which is very exciting as we have two amazing artists working on it. We’re writing grants and seeking investors for our horror comedy feature script that we wrote and intend to shoot in the Fall of 2024 under the banner of our newly formed production company: Monkey/Wolf Productions. Under that same banner, we’re currently in production on Nerds on the Run!—a StoryHive funded documentary that I co-wrote and co-host and will air on Telus Optik in January 2024. The documentary will also be cut into a pilot episodic for an ongoing series to be pitched to streaming networks. I’m also waiting on funding for two other documentaries (a look at the myths and legendary monsters of BC, and a highlight documentary on Kelowna drag queen, Ella Lamoureux). Aside from that, I have a packed schedule running workshops and speaking at writing conferences, teacher’s conferences, and comic cons. Tis a full and happy life 😀

If you’d like to learn more about Andrew, check out his website here.

Join me next week for a 5 question interview with author Tara Shannon.

Welcome to the 5 Minutes Series. Each week, I’ll ask five questions of some of my favorite authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals. This week, I’m talking to the weirdly delightful author, Sage Tyrtle, writer, storyteller, founder of the Crow Collective.

  • Sage Tyrtle’s work is available or upcoming in New Delta Review, The Offing, and Apex among others. She reads for Hippocampus and Fractured Lit. Her words have been featured on NPR, CBC, and PBS and she’s been nominated three times for Pushcart, once for Best American Short Stories. She runs a low cost online writing workshop collective.

1. What is the origin story of the Crow Collective?

 Before the pandemic I taught workshops in person. Venue space in
Toronto is really expensive. Accessible venue space was outside of my
budget entirely. So while I loved teaching, the venue side was not only
stressful, it meant I had to charge high fees in order to make any
profit. And it still wasn’t accessible.

At the start of lockdown someone started a low cost writing workshop
collective. I was so excited and wanted to tell my writing community
about it, but realized the timing excluded almost everyone I knew
because of time zones. So I asked the organizer if I could start one
and they were like sure, I don’t own the idea, so I did.

I had no idea it would grow this much, or that so many amazing writing
teachers would embrace the low cost idea. I’m immensely proud of the
Crow Collective writing community, which is supportive, talented, and
kind. I had no idea if people would put money in the tip jar to create
free registrations but they do! All the time! And I am blown away by
their generosity.

Many people have written to say how changeful it is to be able to take
writing workshops regardless of their finances. And that’s something
the community has made happen.

2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility because I am a terrible eavesdropper (like most writers I think) and I could indulge in my vice. (Ed. Note. Can you imagine invisible Sage listening in on your conversations? What would you want to hide?)

3. You recently wrote a delightfully weird novella, The King of Elkport. What inspired that story?

I was a kid in the 70s and a teen in the 80s. Though I’ve always
been an early adopter of technology (first computer 1986, met my
partner online in 1991, first online journal 1995, first podcast 2005)
in 2014 I got rid of my smartphone because I’d all but stopped reading
books. And because I wanted to be a more present parent. I never got
another one, because getting rid of it worked. The only phone I have
these days is a landline.

I like analog technology. I like the slowness of it. I like reading
books. I like the way email mimics postal letters and that I’m
inaccessible via text message. So I was thinking about how, if I had a
zillion dollars, I could essentially time travel. (Not like the main
character of this book, one time through high school was ENOUGH for me.
*laughing*) I only went to one Renaissance Faire because I thought it
would feel like time travel and it was a massive disappointment. But
what if EVERYONE was in costume, behaving correctly?

And once I started writing the story I realized I wanted to talk about
men and loneliness, a topic that I don’t see very often but that I
believe is rampant. (Ed. Note. I got to read this wonderful story before the release and it is incredible.)

4. What advice would you give an emerging writer?

I wanted to write from the time I was five years old. Then fear kept
me from pursuing writing for almost FIFTY YEARS. Don’t be like me. Find
a writing community. Work hard. Finish a story, a poem, a CNF piece.
Ask for honest feedback. Work on it until you’re happy (not until it’s
perfect, that doesn’t exist) and start submitting it. It will be
rejected a bunch of times and eventually accepted. If you are writing
with passion, if you’re working hard, someone, somewhere, is going to
love what you are saying.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a set of interconnected short stories. They’re
supposed to be flash, but as I work on this idea I’m finding I just
have A LOT to say. I’m having a wonderful, exciting time creating the
setting and characters who populate this world which my writing friends
assure me is as frighteningly creepy as I intend it to be.

Thank you for your time!

Sage can be found on the web here.

The event invite for the launch of “The King of Elkport” is here.

And, if you want to attend the free weekly writing group, Snow, please check here.

Hi all!

Coming next week, I’ll be featuring a new author every week – talking about their work, advice for newer writers, how they got started. I already have several great authors lined up along with a couple publishers. Stay tuned to this spot on Mondays to see “Five Questions” 🙂

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about how to write great characters, especially queer ones, check out my upcoming workshop with Off Topic Publishing. This low cost workshop is happening on May 6th.

Reading my notes for this weekend – I’m so excited for power and physicality. I’m just already anticipating the great writing that will come out of it. We’re going to talk about scars, embodied cognition, hands, small physical details that add richness to writing, taking back our own power through narrative about our bodies. This is going to be great for poets, short story writers, creative non-fiction folks, or anyone who wants to be in a safer space where they can write about any aspect of the physical self. No sharing required – but there will be opportunities to share for those who feel called to do so.

I’ve been writing this class off and on for a few months now. The research alone is fascinating. It almost makes me wish I had done my capstone on physicality and learning because the connection between the body and mind is so deep.

I really think this could be a weeklong retreat–writing about our bodies, spending time going for walks, reading works from others who have written powerfully about their own bodies and the things bodies endure.

There are still a few spots left. If you’re interested, please come check it out.

If you are unable to make this one, I’ll be doing a version of this workshop for the WriteHive Conference in June.


Hi all!

I have a couple writing workshops coming up in the next couple of months.

First, I’m giving a workshop on writing the body through The Crow Collective. That’s next weekend and space is limited now so sign up if you’re going to do so. If you want to sign up for one of the times and it says sold out, you can message me and I may be able to open a spot.

Power and Physicality: Writing Our Bodies, Ourselves

A generative workshop on embodied metaphor and physical writing.

Humans may feel out of control of our bodies sometimes. In healthcare, we may feel doctors tell us to take medicine we don’t want to take or have surgeries we don’t feel we need. In life, we face aging, illnesses, injuries, assault, trauma, pregnancy, abortion, joy, chronic pain, deep belly laughter.

Our bodies tell stories about our lives, and they allow other people to tell stories about us. People often make judgements about us by the things our bodies have been through. They have sometimes controlled our narratives by causing us pain.

By diving deeply into the scars, traumas, joys, and pain of our physical bodies, we can take back the power from people who have told their own stories about our bodies. This generative workshop will guide participants through embracing one’s own body through writing by discussing physicality, the visceral reaction a reader can have to sensory imagery, and guided discussions about body-centered short fiction and poetry.

I’ll also be teaching a class on writing queer characters for Off Topic Publishing in May. Check it out here and let me know if you’ve signed up. I’d love to put faces to some of the names who comment on this blog!