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Book Clubs

Book Club Discussion With Author Dan Burns

Invite author Dan Burns to your next book club discussion. Learn about the inspiration and writing process behind Dan’s new poetry collection, A Necessary Explosion: Collected Poems, his recent story collection, Grace: Stories and a Novella, his mystery novel, A Fine Line, his Chicago-based drama, Recalled to Life, or his first collection of short fiction, No Turning Back: Stories. Dan will share his thoughts and ideas behind the poems and stories as well the details behind his approach to writing short stories, screenplays, stage plays, poetry, and novels. His thought-provoking books are perfect for your book club list. A free book will be provided for your local library and discounted books are available when you order for the club members prior to the event. (Adults; 90 min; $300 or free with the advance purchase of books for your club members)

Please contact the following references to hear about successful book club discussions:

Anna Demitraszek

Wood Dale Public Library



Jennifer Remedi
La Grange Book Club

Cathy Phillips
La Grange Park Book Club

Mary Lee Lockwood
Palos Heights Woman's Club / Palos Heights Public Library






After a successful career publishing novels and short stories, why did you decide to publish a book of poetry?


How is writing poetry different than writing novels and short stories?


Sometimes, reading poetry is difficult. What was your approach to compiling a book of poetry that is so accessible, relatable, and enjoyable?


I understand that many of your stories started as poems. Can you share your approach to developing longer-form stories from something as simple as a poem?


What are the key ingredients to a good poem?


Which poets do you like to read and why, and are there any poets that were influential to you as you developed your poetic style?


I'd love to write poetry! How do I get started?


Poetic form: Does the poem, or the story, dictate the form, or does the form drive the development of the poem?  


When writing a poem, do you make a conscious determination, regarding your story or message, about how much to spell out for the reader, and how much to leave to the reader's imagination and interpretation?


Why is poetry a favored method for you to tell a story?


Writing poetry is a more personal, subjective, and flexible form of writing. Can you tell us about when you get to the editing stage of one of your books and what that process is like?


What are you working on now?



How did the idea of "redemption" originate and what was the process for telling the story from the perspective of a septuagenarian?
"Come Out, Wherever You Are," from your collection, No Turning Back: Stories, is also set in Montana. What is your fascination with that state?
"The Plight of Maximus Octavius Reinhold"
It was great to read about Sebastian Drake (from the novel, A Fine Line) in another story. What's next for him, and can we expect another book with him in the lead role?
Drake wasn't really the hero of the story. How come?
I read in the story notes that the premise for this story was based on a real-life experience you had. How often does real life meld into the stories you write?
Are you hardwired?
"Adrift at Sea"
This story reads like a prose poem. Was that your intention, and how did you approach the writing of this story?
There are many lyrical and symbolic passages in this story. Do you have a favorite, and where did you find the inspiration for the sentiment?
"The Final Countdown"
The story ended with a satisfying conclusion, but like many of your other stories, I'm thinking there is more to come. Can we expect to read about the future and fate of Douglas and his grandfather?
You seem to have a dark visionary perspective of our future. Are we doomed, or is there still the possibility of a happy ending?
"Grace: A Novella"


I understand that this story originated as a poem. Can you share your original inspiration and the process for developing the poem into a novella?
The story includes so many unique characters, both male and female, and of many ages. What was your approach to telling the story from each perspective?


Sebastian Drake is a troubled and complex character. What is his primary motivation in life, for doing the things he does?

How would you describe Drake’s physical appearance, and does he remind you of someone, either real or fictional?

When Drake receives the call from his ex-wife, Karen, about their daughter’s disappearance, he is unable respond to the news. What is holding him back?

Senator Jack Mitchell was a secondary character in the story but plays a crucial role in the development of the investigation. What was his role?

There are many characters in the story to dislike. How would you rank them on the “Disgust Meter, 1 to 10, 10 being the worst?”

Thomas Engel, a philanthropist, is not all he appears to be. Who do you think he really is and what is he capable of?

Engel appears to know quite a bit, about many things, and might even be pulling strings to help Drake in his pursuit of the investigation. Do you think he had a relationship or contact with any of the other characters in the story?

Drake began a relationship with Detective Angie Parker and felt they had made a connection. Is Drake capable of having a romantic relationship?

Are there any characters (not dead) who you would like to see again in a future story?

Drake’s past experience with the Munitions Development Agency—his expert marksmanship and access to unique and top secret ammunition—played a key role in his ability to take out the bad guys. Discuss.

At the end of the story, the case is closed but Drake’s future is just beginning. What do you think is in store for Drake?

After reading the book were you left with any burning questions?

Are you a fan of audiobooks? Who are your favorite narrators? Check out the forthcoming audiobook edition of A Fine Line, by world-renowned narrator George Guidall.

What’s next for Drake?

What’s next for Dan Burns?