An Interview with Jeff Burt


A neighborhood vigilante group out to get a coyote...what influenced this piece? 

I am continually amazed, with the loss of a kitten or a small dog, how quickly people enlarge the roving marauder, if there even is one, from bobcat to mountain lion, from coyote to wolf, like the fish lengthening the further one gets from the water empty-handed. Soon sightings of pet-snatchers are reported in every neighborhood.
I am also amazed at the number of people who own guns, and the number of guns they possess—weapons that were not designed for home defense. And as statistics tell us, amateurs don’t have good outcomes using them.
Put these two things together, and you have the opportunity for misfortune.

Which writer or body of work has informed your writing and inspired you? 

Writers who have affected my perspective include Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Louise Erdrich, John Steinbeck, Abraham Lincoln, and Pablo Neruda. I grew up in Wisconsin, surrounded by farm communities, and the shape of a story has probably been drawn from how farm men told stories at the gristmill and the fence line, or when church let out standing near their cars, and women massed around a kitchen table injecting commentary during the stories told by others. Growing up, I had a feeling no retelling was accurate, but all were true.