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Lake Oswego High grad earns international author award

William Burt says local teachers are among his inspirations

BurtAward-winning author William Burt says that among the heroes who inspired him are his father, a professor, a Boy Scout leader, J.R.R. Tolkien and two Lake Oswego High School teachers.

Each person had a role in shaping the 1970 LOHS grad’s work. He recently was honored as a silver medalist in the 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest for the second edition of the first book in his Christian fantasy series, “The King of the Trees.”

Though currently a Hubbard resident, Burt’s next series, “The Creation Seekers,” is set in Lake Oswego and centers on the lives of a brother and sister. The book is in draft form, and Burt isn’t ready to offer further details.

His own story starts in Lake Oswego. He says he’s been putting ink to paper since he was a child, but he didn’t begin to enjoy the writing process until high school.

“In high school, Miss Scholastica Murty stood out for me as an English teacher,” says Burt, 62. “She encouraged me to pursue writing after I had completed an extended assignment that required us students to keep a daily reflective journal.”

LOHS teacher Dorothy West taught him Latin and deepened his understanding of English, Burt says.

“She was a wonderful teacher and a fine human being,” he says. “On the strength of my SAT scores in Latin, I was offered a full scholarship to the Latin Department at the University of Washington. I declined, because I had taken Latin to bolster my understanding of scientific names, although I did enjoy the translation process.”

Understanding scientific names was going to help him as a botany major. But that goal changed, too, because of a teacher. A literature professor at Oregon State University told Burt to switch his major from botany to English, which he did after transferring to Lewis & Clark College. He earned his college diploma in 1976.

Taking a job at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Burt worked as a classroom sign language interpreter, established a fledgling interpreter program and became a professor. So, he’s a multilingual man.

“For me, writing is not only a joy in itself, but it also serves as an outlet for my love of languages — especially English,” Burt says.

That love helped hatch “The King of the Trees” series. The first novel, which carries the series title’s name, follows the tradition of Burt’s beloved Tolkien, commencing with a quest. Rolin, the son of Gannon, seeks to unveil the mystery of “an old wooden box, a jeweled pendant and some mysterious, green-garbed strangers,” the book’s synopsis says.

The survival skills Burt learned from a Boy Scout leader informed some of the series’ content, and the main character’s dad is based on Burt’s father.

“My dad is a character in his own right,” Burt says.

Learn more

For more information on William Burt’s writing or to buy his books, visit www.greencloaks.com. His books also are available at the Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 Fourth Street: www.ci.oswego.or.us/library. His works are sold on Amazon as well.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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