Thursday, March 13, 2014

Author Interview with H.L. Burke

Here is a recent email interview I did with H.L. Burke, author of Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar Volume 1)!  If you haven't read the book, you should check it out!  Also, look down under this post and you should see a review I did on it if you want to know more about Dragon's Curse!

1. How long have you been writing?
This depends on your definition of writing. If dictating stories to my mom because I was too young to write them down counts, probably five or six. My daughter now does the same thing with me. She literally draws pictures on the backs of my old rejection letters. I had a file of the dang things, and one day I took them out and said, "Huh, still blank on one side," and put them in the drawing paper bin. She wrote at least two "books" on the back of these. 
2.  When did you publish your first book?
2013, so very recently. I made a rookie mistake of rushing my first book, The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts, to publication because I didn't know where to get help with editing and the like. It is still a good book, just looking back with what I  know now, it could be a lot more polished. Someday I'll probably put up a "special edition" with some edits, but for now I'm focused on future endeavors. 
3. Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
The funny thing is that I do not write like my favorite authors. I adore Tolkien, Dostoevsky, and Kate DiCamillo. Those are my big three, authors who have always been able to touch me, but my style is nothing like theirs, and I'm okay with that. I compare my work to Shannon Hale's and Gail Carson Levine's, but probably the best compliment I ever got was when a reader likened my style to C. S. Lewis's, who is an undeniable influence. I'm very schooled in classics, not so much on modern books (though I'm trying to expand my horizons a bit). 
4. What was your inspiration for Dragon's Curse?
Dragons are sexy. That's basically it. I've had an idea for something like Dragon's Curse in my head for almost ten years. I remember reading The Reluctant Dragon and loving the idea of a dragon working with a knight. I also love any sort of "Beauty and the Beast" story. It took awhile to work out the details in my head, but I've wanted to write this particular story for a long time.
5. How many books will be in the series The Dragon and the Scholar? 
Four, all written, just in various stages of editing. Dragon's Debt should be out in May, and I'm aiming for a new release every four to six months following that. 
6. How did you decide to make Shannon, the heroine, such a strong and independent character?
It's funny because I know Shannon's foibles so well that I probably wouldn't describe her that way, not right off. I know what she's afraid of, and I have seen her when she's vulnerable (I put her through the wringer in later books.). I didn't, however, want her to be a shrinking violet because she needed to be able to stand up for herself, and her dragon. Basically Shannon rises to the occasion and grows due to hardship. Also, I wanted people to cheer for her. No one likes a whiner. 
7. When will the next book in the series be out? 
(I accidentally answered this above. That's what I get for not reading ahead)
8. What will the major point of conflict be in the next book?
A mysterious creature is carrying off young women and draining their memories, returning them as empty shells. My heroes are drawn in when the monster targets the beloved of someone close to them (trying not to give away too much.). However, the emotional impetus involves whether or not the relationship between Shannon and (spoilers, sweetie) Ewan is sustainable. 
9. Have your life experiences impacted your writing?
Majorly. Especially some of the events in the later books of this series. I fell in love with a man who for the longest time kept me at arm's length, and I draw from that longing a lot. Also, there is a certain amount of faith that has to come along with being  a military wife. You can't hold too tight, and you have to accept things as they come. Probably one of the hardest moments in my life was going into labor with my first child with her daddy overseas in Iraq. I remember putting his picture on the hospital bedside table and just bursting into tears, wailing, "I want Matt!" But that wasn't going to happen and that baby was coming no matter what. When that time comes you  just have to draw on God and what strength He gave you and push through. So yeah, there is a lot in my stories about love and fidelity in the face of hardship because I understand that. 
10. what hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?
Oh gosh, writing used to be my hobby and now it feels like a "job." I love computer games. I had to give up World of Warcraft when I started writing "seriously" but I still indulge in occasional Myst binges or a Nancy Drew mystery game. I crochet and I have kids, but it works out because my six-year-old leveled up my Paladin in World of Warcraft for me and does dailies from time to time. (Nobody probably understands what I'm talking about. . .I'm such a geek)

Both ebooks Dragon's Curse and The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts will be free on Amazon March 15-16!!  Make sure to check them out and don't forget to leave the author a review on Amazon!

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