In her own fictional world, Rebecca Burrell is a secret Vatican spy, a flight nurse swooping over the frozen battlefields of Korea, or a journalist en-route to cover the latest world crisis. In real life, she’s a scientist in the medical field. She lives in Massachusetts with her family, two seriously weird cats, and a dog who’s convinced they’re taunting him.



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?
Bits and pieces of At Shutter Speed have existed on my hard drive for an embarrassingly long time, so it’s hard to be sure (though it probably involved my tendency to fangirl journalists instead of movie stars and a lifelong obsession with current events) While I’ve always loved this story, it was never really the right time for it. Then the election happened, and suddenly the America around me no longer made sense. Both my husband and our children were born elsewhere and came to this country as immigrants. Especially to my older son, it all felt very personal and scary. For me, writing has always been my way of figuring out things that on the surface, I can’t. When I started reading back through what I’d written, it became clear that now, this was the story I needed to tell.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The logistics of writing a story built around recent history can be tricky, especially when our interpretation of those events is still evolving. As a country, we’re still feeling the effects of the Iraq War (especially those who fought in or covered it). The Syrian Refugee Crisis is simultaneously both intractable and rapidly changing. It’s not unusual to find friends on social media constantly re-litigating the last election. I doubt we’ll ever find consensus on these things, and we certainly haven’t found it today. As with any story, I find the trick is to dive deep into a particular character’s head, whether they’re the hero, villain, or secondary character, and let them say or do what they will. Like a photograph, they represent a singular point and space in time, frozen in the moment. When those characters interact, that’s where a story begins.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Self-publish. The book is somewhat of a cross between genres, and despite a few editors who loved the story, ultimately, my agent and I couldn’t find a traditional publisher who felt they could make the numbers work. I never saw myself self-publishing, so initially the idea was flat-out terrifying, but I’ve grown to love having the freedom to make all the decisions myself.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m planning for two other stories in the same universe as At Shutter Speed – the first, titled Resurrecting Micah, is about a physician in Israel’s West Bank, and her husband, an academic working to restart the peace process. (planned release: late summer or early fall, 2018). The second (currently untitled), is a follow-on to At Shutter Speed set in Sudan, Iraq, and the USA. Finally, if you are a fan of historical fiction or epistolary novels, please check out How High the Moon, the story of an affair between a flight nurse and a draftee surgeon who’s stuck at the Korean front in 1951. (planned for fall, 2018)

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Both our secrets and our differences only have the power we give them. There is power in sharing our secrets, there is power in embracing our differences, and there is power in truth. Together, we can guard against those who would wield them against us.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the chance to talk about my story!

Author: Rebecca Burrell
Publisher: Cranesbill Press
Pages: 381
Genre: Women’s Fiction

In the click of a shutter, #Resistance becomes more than just a hashtag.
Pass the bar exam. Convince someone—anyone—in the Egyptian government to admit they’ve imprisoned your husband. Don’t lose your mind. For fledgling human rights attorney Leah Cahill, the past six months have been a trial by fire, ever since Matty, a respected but troubled war photojournalist, disappeared during a crackdown in Cairo.

Leah, the daughter of a civil rights icon, grew up wanting to change the world; Matty was the one who showed her she could. Though frustrated by the US government’s new fondness for dictators, she persists, until a leaked email reveals a crumbling democracy far closer to home.

Risking her own freedom, she gains proof Matty’s being detained at a U.S. ‘black site’, stemming from his work covering the refugee crisis in Syria. Armed with his photo archives, Leah plunges into their past together, a love story spanning three continents. She uncovers secrets involving Matty’s missionary childhood, her own refugee caseload, and the only story the deeply principled reporter ever agreed to bury. It’s what got him captured—and what might still get him killed. With Leah’s last chance to save him slipping away, Matty’s biggest secret may be one he’s willing to die to protect.


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