Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Scott Burtness. I thought Scott’s story was the perfect note to end the anthology on, and reviewers seem to agree with me 🙂 I also had the pleasure of hanging out with Scott at When Words Collide last year, hopefully we’ll get to repeat that sometime soon.
Interview with Scott Burtness
Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:
Clots of mud and foliage stained with dark vital-fluid marked Scarecrow’s path from the airlock. Initiating a physical-assessment scan, it analyzed the extent of its injuries, categorizing them by degree of severity. Despite openly weeping vital fluid, none were terminal, nor were any severe enough to degrade its capabilities. Shifting its awareness, Scarecrow observed Jorry, the human wet-tech assigned as its Tin Man. The human’s posture, facial expressions and bio-signatures indicated that he also did not believe Scarecrow’s wounds to be severe. Applying the relevant pre-loaded decision matrix, it determined that updating the Dorothy took precedence, and established a communication link.
“Scarecrow to mining site.” It formed the words slowly, hindered by facial muscles not well-shaped for Consortium Standard. “Mission accomplished.”
There’s a Japanese God who is represented as a scarecrow. It is all-knowing but cannot move. If you could know any one thing, what would it be? How to eat hot pizza without burning the roof of my mouth.
Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? Only if I was stuck in a pizza joint.
If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? If I were a scarecrow, I’d look like Dean Koontz and be stuffed with Stephen King books.
Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? I’d be a terrible scarecrow. One, I like crows. They’re very clever and sound like Predator when they croak, which is awesome. Two, I have a short attention span. No way could I handle staring at a field for days on end. I’d totally lose focus and… Wait, what was the question? Oh, three, I think unicycles are way cooler than tandem bicycles.
What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? All random humor aside, I think scarecrows are fascinating. They present a window into humanity’s psyche. There’s a darkness in us, but also a desire to channel that darkness into a clear purpose. Scarecrows provide a focal point of our contradictory nature.
As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂
Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?) I live in Minnesota, USA. When I was drafting the story, there was a lot of attention on sulfide mining in northern Minnesota. It provided the context for writing a story about a deep space mining operation that had to extract metals without adversely affecting the nearby communities.
Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?) Inspiration came from a very old and obscure bit of mythology… the opening scene of the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness. Kirk et al are pranking the natives and allow their spaceship to be seen, which is in clear violation of the Prime Directive.
Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?) My personal favorite are jackdaws, because a group of jackdaws is a clattering. Could there be a more perfect phrase than, “a clattering of jackdaws?”
Scott Burtness lives in Minnesota with his wife, Liz and their English Staffordshire-Boxer, Frank. He has it on good authority that he possesses all of the requisite parts to be considered human, and sincerely believes he’s taller when measured with the metric system. Scott’s debut novel, WISCONSIN VAMP, is available on Amazon.com. When not writing horror-comedy romps or sci-fi adventures, Scott enjoys bowling, karaoke, craft brews and afternoon naps. Follow him on Twitter (@SWBauthor). Don’t follow him down dark alleys.