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4. Tony Coyote Perez Author of Built to Burn

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Please enjoy this fascinating interview with Tony Coyote Perez. He is the Superintendent of Black Rock City and a recently published author of Built to Man, Tales of the Desert Carnies of Burning Man. We discussed the story behind the book, how he finally got published, and his tips for the whole process. He used to be a builder, a professional musician, and a bar manager. He has used every career to complete this book. I hope you enjoy!


Quotes by Coyote:

"I'm the superintendent of the city. I do the layout and the survey of the city. I set up the infrastructure. Essentially we build a trellis for which the bows of the branches of the community grow through."

"The book is from the builder's perspective of Black Rock City, the blue collar, essentially the working man behind the scenes  and the strife that we went through while the city was trying to survive back in the late nineties."

"The book started from telling stories, as a matter of fact, in the book, some of the stories that I tell and have been telling for 20 or 25 years."

"Hero's journey starts out with the unrest. The person doesn't like the situation they're in. They're trying to find something better. They venture into the world. They go through cataclysmic events and existential crises because of bad choices they make. And then in the end, they have awakenings and redemption and it furthers their life and they go on like the Phoenix rising from the ashes."

"I've found that a great percentage of writing is just sitting and listening to your thoughts. It's a time machine of sorts where you have to just peel away the layers and go back into your memories and really relive what it was like, what it smelled like, what it felt like, and what were the emotions you were feeling."

"I just kept to my memories because that's where that's where the heart lives and that's how it became real for me. You never let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

Editing a book takes five times as long as writing the book and you realize that you really have to write four books in order to get one books worth."

"The more you help yourself, people will want to help you. You have to be involved in your own rescue. You can't just throw your hands up and say, somebody come help me."

"I want to build a fire and you start fire with kindling."

"I'd said that in the book it caps the explosion and that turns it into an engine and the engine runs a community. So it's directing the chaos. It creates a dynamic tension."

"I'm a social Smith. I wanted to figure people out. I wanted to hang out with a wide variety of personalities and opinions and perspectives. I thought it was all fascinating and now I'm getting to write about it."

"You know, eventually the jewels will start to come out and then when the jewel has come out, it really doesn't seem like you wrote them. That's my favorite part."

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