An exclusive interview with H.L. Burke

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

A cat.
Well, there were periods of more reasonable ambitions, but mostly cat.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have just always liked to tell stories. My friends and I had pretend adventures and I would write them down.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was young enough not to be “writing” yet. My mom had to write down the words under my drawings of rabbits. The only part I remember is a dialog that went something like, “Why is it always snowing where you live, Snowflake?” “Because I am a snow rabbit.”

What inspired you to write your first book?

It really depends on what you consider my first book. I’ve been writing since long before anything was any good. I wrote a lot of words in high school, but none of them will ever see the light of day. My first published book was actually written from a very personal place. I was a lonely single girl who wanted to imagine a perfect fairy tale romance, so I wrote one. Since then I’ve become a happily married girl, but the main point to that book was the love story.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

I’m a fairly fast writer. The first book was written in about two months. My current process is about 3 months for writing, 2 for editing and rewrites.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always been pretty confident in claiming the title. I was always the “writer” in my peer group. I think that’s what pushed me to pursue it more seriously as an adult. So many people from my past wanted to know what I was doing, if I were still writing, if I’d published anything yet. I think the breaking point was when a friend told me how inspiring she’d found it as a kid that I actually wrote as much as I did, and I thought, “Dang, I’m kind of squandering my potential, aren’t I? I better see what I can do about that.”

Do you write full-time or part-time?
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I am the queen of chaos. My full-time job is mother, which is good and bad. Bad because kids are unpredictable, good because if I look for gaps in my day, once the house is clean, and they are finally napping, or down for the night, I can usually find the time I need. I do a lot of writing while my kids play in the yard or my daughter’s at gymnastics.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I do a mix between longhand and computer. I find longhand freeing because I don’t have a backspace key tempting me if I write something that isn’t “perfect.” I’ll just keep writing and fix it when I type it up later. Sometimes, though, the speed and efficiency of typing works well, especially when I’m on a roll.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Published and finished, 7 books and 2 short stories, which a handful of written but unedited short stories and one novel that I just finished the first draft of a week ago. My favorite is always my current project. It’s the one I’m spending the most time with and so am most excited about, but overall, I have a soft place for the last book in my fantasy romance series, Dragon’s Bride, because I worked really hard in coming up with the perfect happy ending for my characters, and I’m quite proud of it.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Fantasy, sometimes romantic, sometimes young adult or even children’s. I love possibilities and whimsy. I like to explore and create and play in worlds that don’t actually exist.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I like to play with concepts in my head. I’ll take a familiar fairy tale or trope and introduce a “what if.” There is occasional research involved like “how far can a horse and rider travel in a single day” or “how can my character start a fire when it is raining out” but mostly I just follow my imagination.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About three months for writing plus another two for editing and rewrites. I like to make sure my books are beta read by multiple readers and I trade critiques with other authors through in order to polish my work as much as possible.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

For me it’s the marketing. I can write my books all day. Writing about my books in a way that makes people want to read them and promoting them without coming across as pushy or self-centered
(BUY MY BOOK! It’s the best!) is hard.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Sometimes between projects I can’t seem to stick to an idea. I’ll stumble about, writing the first two or three pages to different things and it can be frustrating. I just keep writing those pages until it feels right, though, and normally it works out. If all else fails, write something pressure free, like some low key blog posts or an easy reader for your kid. And it is okay to take a break sometimes.

What are your current projects?
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I just finished the first draft of an epic fantasy novel entitled “Lands of Ash” and am concentrating on content edits for it, making sure the plot and pacing work and that the character arcs are consistent and believable. The story is based on a world where humans have been pushed to the edge of extinction by Elemental invaders from another realm. I get to play with fire. The book won’t be available until probably some time this summer.

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

I’d like to be exactly where I am . . . except with a maid.
I would really love to have a maid.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Links can be found lower on this page.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Never settle for anything less than dragons.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play some computer games. The Myst series is my nostalgic favorite, but also some World of Warcraft and puzzle games when I get the time.

How do you relax?

Tea and ASMR videos on youtube . . . or wine.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m actually happy to interact/communicate with anyone who has questions about my books or writing process. There is a contact form on my website and I’m fairly active on my social media.