Stephen Burckhardt Photo

About the Author

Stephen Burckhardt is a pen name for western author, Dianne Burckhardt. The photo of "Stephen" is Dianne's father, Steve Stephens. Dianne took this photo of her father when she was in college studying photojournalism as part of her communications degree. Her father was about the same age in this photo as Dianne was when she started writing the Into the West Saga Serial.

 

Dianne was born in Wichita, Kansas. Her family moved around quite a bit when she was young, but always stayed in or around the Wichita area living in Goddard, Benton, Valley Center, and finally settling back in Wichita.  Dianne spent a few a years living on a ranch in Benton, KS as a child. This is where she developed a deep love for all things western. It was on the ranch where Dianne learned to ride and care for horses, tend chickens and cattle, drive a tractor, and shoot various types of firearms. Being a proud member of the Cherokee nation only deepened he interest in history, animals, and native traditions.

 

After earning a degree in journalism from Wichita State University, Dianne spent years writing for various publications and eventually worked for a news service as an anchor for their east coast news feed. Dianne sat in a broadcast booth eight hours a day Monday through Friday broadcasting headline news stories and various features.


The job was depressing. Dianne spent her days mostly talking for eight hours a day about war, murder, kidnappings, rapes, corporate polluting of communities, and so much more. She decided if she was going to have to have a career dealing with the worst events in world, she would rather have a job doing something to stop them instead of just talking about them. Dianne went back to school and earned her second degree in forensic criminology. Just as Dianne was beginning to look for a job with a crime scene unit, she had an accident that changed the direction of her life.

 

In 2004, Dianne endured seven surgeries in six months, six of which were brain surgeries. After the fifth brain surgery, Dianne developed a MRSA staph infection in her head and spent weeks in ICU barely clinging to life. At one point, she died but came back to life after a few minutes. Even with this recovery, she was not expected to survive the infection. Miraculously, Dianne pulled through, but spent the next five years recovering the traumatic ordeal.

Dianne was advised she would never be able to recover enough to go back to work or be able to live free of pain medication. She was advised to accept her fate and live on disability. Dianne refused to accept that prognosis and began to research her conditions on her own.

After years of trial and error, Dianne was able to recover enough to return to work and was eventually able to work full time. About this same time, Dianne was able to finally live free of prescription pain medication once more. Writing became an important therapeutic tool in an effort to retrain Dianne’s brain and slowly find ways to rebuild the connections that had been severed by the repeated neurological trauma.

It was mostly due to this neurological trauma that Dianne decided to write her first book series under a pen name. After the brain surgeries, Dianne suffered serious damage to her language abilities. She could not remember simple words, her short term memory was greatly damaged and is still and issue today, but is showing improvement. With her new challenges, Dianne was not sure she could still write well.  She decided to write as "Stephen Burckhardt", dropping the last "s" from her maiden last name and adding her married last name to create her pen name.  

 

Writing under this pen name gave her some security. If her first attempt at writing a book was a complete disaster, she could just walk away and no one would know it was Dianne who actually wrote it. She was greatly surprised when her first book won not only one, but two awards, in the first and only writing contest she had ever entered. The problem now was, no one knew it was Dianne who wrote the award-winning western. It also made doing interviews difficult. Which is why Dianne decided to come out as the actual author, but will continue to use the pen name Stephen Burckhardt for the Into the West Saga Serial and future books in the Territories Saga Serials as a thank you to her father for his contribution.  

 

                                                    Becoming a Self-Published Author

 

                                                   

                                                    In January 2013, Dianne met the love of her life, P.R.                                                                    Burckhardt. In December of that same year, the happy couple                                                        was married at the Old Cowtown Museum (<--- click) in                                                                Wichita. The service was held in the Presbyterian Church on                                                          the grounds and was officiated by Dianne's mother. The                                                                reception was held in Fritz Snitzler's Saloon and was even interrupted by gunfighters. With the marriage, Dianne also became a bonus parent to P.R.'s twin daughters.

 

Dianne only refers to P.R. by initials because P.R. works for a high profile consulting firm and wants to keep the couple's private life separate from his business. Since Dianne shares a lot of personal information on her social media sites, the couple thought the use of initials for P.R. was the best option. 

 

P.R.'s job required the couple to move to Europe after the wedding. Dianne and P.R. first moved to Denmark and eventually landed in Germany, where they currently live. With the move, Dianne had to rebuild her career once more. Dianne knew exactly three words in German when they moved to Germany, ja (yes), nein (no), and schnell (fast). With the neurological and short term memory issues she suffers, learning a new language proved to be a daunting challenge to say the least. After six years in Germany, Dianne is functional in the German, but still struggles. After discussing career options with P.R. given her language limitations, Dianne decided to finally take a chance and pursue her dream career as an author.  

Dianne knew this career was going to be challenging. Dianne has learned to compensate for the significant brain damage and greatly diminished short term memory. She continues to develop new and better techniques to cope with the obstacles she faces.  

 

While still in Denmark in 2014, Dianne began freelancing as a ghostwriter. One of her early assignments was writing a western for Luis Antwoord titled Western: In the Company of ThievesIt was after this project, Dianne developed an insatiable desire to continue writing westerns under her own pen name.

To reach a wider market, Dianne decided to write her books as serial novellas instead of full length novels. Each serial will be divided into a 5 or more novellas. T
o help make ends meet, Dianne had worked three days a week tutoring students in China online in English as a second language (ESL). Due to changes in Education laws in China, Dianne is no longer able to tutor online with her former company and is currently working on self-publishing full-time.

 

After moving to Germany in 2015, Dianne and P.R. adopted a Russian rescue dog, Shaggy. Shaggy has been the perfect addition to their happy home. He has proven to be a natural therapy dog for Dianne. With P.R. and Shaggy's help, Dianne has been able to reduce her neurological events a great deal in recent years. Between writing and building a home with the love of her life, Dianne's life is pretty full and she looks forward to her next challenge. 

me and P.R..jpg
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