If your reading tastes include fantasy, dragons and romance HL’s books might be for you! [Make sure to reach the end and enter HL’s Rafflecopter giveaway.]
What genre(s) do you write? Fantasy for the most part. I do play around with the YA category and a lot of my books have a strong romantic element, so I usually classify them fantasy/romance. I am currently working on a piece that is meant for children, though it still contains fantasy elements, just in a funnier, lighthearted way.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a talker so it is hard to tell a “little bit” about anything. I get carried away. I have been writing seriously since I was a teenager, but my “day job” is being a mom and a wife. I have two little girls who I am raising to be my minions and we cos-play together from time to time. My husband’s a Marine so we move around a lot, and I kind of like that. It keeps life from getting stale.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? No idea. I started really early. I’ve just always had a head that wanted play time to involve elaborate stories, and when it was too difficult to get my friends and siblings to act out my scenarios for me, I fell back on dictating them to my mom. Then I learned how to actually write (I mean, use a pencil and paper and spell words) and started writing down my ideas. Most of my early stories starred me and my friends, but when I got into Lord of the Rings and Star Wars I started experimenting with more fantastic genres.
What is the last book you read? It was actually a really short book about things that have names that we don’t usually know, like aglet being the plastic part at the end of a shoelace and zarf being a decorative holder for a handle-less coffee cup: The Whatchamacallit. It would be a great book for a writing prompt exercise, actually, like “Can you incorporate ‘aglet’ into a piece of flash fiction?”
Which writers inspire you? It’s funny because I have a short list of favorite writers and I don’t write like any of them. A big influence on me was George MacDonald. I love Tolkien, Kate DiCamillo, and Dostoevsky. I probably owe the most to Gail Carson Levine who introduced me to the full length fairy tale (though other authors do it well too, she was the first I read).
Where did you get the idea from for your novel, Dragon’s Curse? I was playing around with various fairy tale ideas like, “What if the princess didn’t want to be rescued because she liked the dragon better than the knight?” The earliest versions of this story involved a knight making a deal with a dragon to kidnap a disinterested lady so the knight could impress her by “rescuing” her only to have the lady side with the dragon. It obviously got stretched from that point by quite a bit and there were other elements at play, but I fear discussing them would give away plot points.
Can you tell us something about the story? As mentioned above, it is about a woman, in this case a scholar, who travels to a new kingdom to heal a king wounded by a dragon. Then a dragon with an agenda moves into the area and starts taunting the king. Shannon, my healer/heroine, takes it upon herself to negotiate with the dragon and ends up liking him better than the majority of the humans hanging around the castle.
Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? In tone, the first book (or movie) that comes to mind is The Princess Bride. I see my audience as primarily female, but guys have liked it to. It is a clean story, safe for teens. If you like fairy tales and fun adventure with a little bit of tongue and cheek humor, I think you’ll like Dragon’s Curse.
Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? A few weeks ago a friend sent me a picture of a cat rubbing up against a statue of a dragon, and I sent her back a one page story about a cat who moves in with a dragon, but the more I played with the idea, the more I realized there was potential for a middle grade chapter book. I’m enjoying writing a kitten as a main character. The dragon assumes the kitten is his pet, and the kitten assumes the dragon is his pet, so it is a fun dynamic.
Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? I have four novels currently available for purchase on Amazon, three in the same series as Dragon’s Curse (It is a four part series. I’m currently doing edits on book four and hope to have it available in December of this year) http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/h-l-burkes-novels.html.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Don’t worry about being original or good or publishable or anything. Just write. Honestly, most ideas have been done before, most first drafts are sandpaper rough, and publishing is something to think about on final drafts. Especially now with self-publishing being so easy, you don’t really have to write to a market if you don’t want to. If your goal is simply, like mine was, to have someone read and enjoy your book, there is probably someone out there who will read and enjoy it the way you want to write it, not the way market trends tell you to write it.
Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I’ve been fortunate so far not to have gotten a truly bad review. The closest I’ve come is someone recently gave a short story I wrote a two star rating on Goodreads (which on Goodreads means “it was okay” so you could argue that’s not a “bad” rating), but since there was no review attached, I’ll never know why. I don’t mind mixed reviews so much. They do sometimes give me ideas of where I can improve in the future, but I never was under the impression that my book was for everyone. As long as it is a five star book to some readers, I’m happy.
If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I have a hard time reviewing books. I never feel I have anything particularly useful to add. I personally try to tell what I would want to know picking up the book as a reader. Like, is it funny? Does it have a message? Is the tone dark or light (which is important because sometimes I want a book to suit my current mood)? Is it overall entertaining? Does it read quickly? I’m one of those readers who just gives a star rating without a written review 90% of the time though.
Blurb: On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?