Frank Burton is from Lancashire.  He has written and performed poetry as well as writing short fiction.  The World, taken from this collection, has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Short Story Collections

A History of Sarcasm
(Dog Horn Publishing, 2009)

reviewed by Pauline Masurel

Interview with Frank Burton

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

FB: Most of them were written over the course of three years. A couple of the stories (M and The Nature of Human Happiness) were written a couple of years earlier, before I really got into short story writing. I was trying to write novels at the time, but I got sidetracked by short stories and poetry.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

FB: Initially, I wrote stories for publication in magazines. I always had the idea of putting a collection together in the back of my mind, but I didn't get serious about it until I'd had a few stories published.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

FB: With great difficulty! Writing the book was a real learning process - I got better at writing as I went along. A lot of the earlier stories had to be left out, because they weren't up to my later standard. Then I started wondering if I actually used to be better than I am now, so it all got a bit confusing. 

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

FB:  Great stories are the greatest lies in the world, and the greatest means of telling the truth. (I may well be plagiarising someone there, but I'm not sure who.)

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

FB:  I write for myself primarily - to entertain myself, and teach myself new things. Hopefully there's enough people out there who share my own curious taste.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

FB: Would you buy my next book based on having read the first one?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

FB: What feels odd to me is that my stories are being read by people who I've never met, and who I'll probably never meet. One way or another, they'll get to know a lot of things about me, and I know nothing about them.

TSR: What are you working on now?

FB: Lots and lots of things. Later on this year, I'm planning on releasing my second performance poetry album, and my second book - a novel this time. Now I'm working on another short story collection, in between doing things to promote A History of Sarcasm. Basically, I'm very busy.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

FB: Missing Kissinger by Etgar Keret (great), Other Stories and Other Stories by Ali Smith and currently reading Best European Fiction 2010, edited by Aleksandar Hemon (really great).
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