5 Minutes With H. L. Burke

Welcome H. L. Burke!11755639_10154140291146002_1215304829087524943_n

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:–I’m a military wife, mother, and dragon keeper and I also obsessively write fantasy novels while under the influence of caffeine.

Coiled is a fairy tale/mythological retelling that features a cursed prince and princess pair … and giant snakes. I’ve always enjoyed versions of the Eros and Psyche myth (which has been retold by various cultures over time). One of my favorites is the French version, The Green Serpent, where the prince turns into a giant green snake so he tries to woo an ugly princess in the darkness. There is just something alluring to me about falling in love with a soul rather than a body, and the concept of two people who come to care for each other while never able to see each other really appealed to me.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

I’m not sure if it counts as research, but in Coiled there is a scene where a ruffian grabs Laidra, the main character, and tries to carry her off, so she’s slung over his shoulder, kicking him in the chest … I had a beta reader question this, suggesting her legs would probably at least reach his stomach.

Matt (my husband, who is 6’5” and a Marine, which is probably important to the understanding of this story) was handy, so the exchange went something like this:

Me: Hey, can you throw me over your shoulder so I can see where my kicks would fall if you tried to carry me off?

Matt: That didn’t go where I was hoping it would …

He picked me up and slung me over his shoulder, and yeah, my feet did fall about his chest, but his arms around my legs to keep me on his shoulder prevented me from making anything but pathetic little flutter kicks. Trying to be helpful, he suggested I try to punch him in the kidneys as that might be the easiest way for my heroine to fight back. After several attempts to do this, I had to admit, my husband was just too dang tall for me to reach his kidneys. I ended up leaving the scene as it was.

(that is wonderfully hilarious. XD )

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it?IMG_20170502_135018

When you have two youngish (my daughters are 5 and 9) children, you have to be flexible. Some of my best writing has been achieved at the McDonald’s play structure. That said, I do have a desktop computer on a folding table, but there’s nothing very special about it … some scattered books, an empty tea tin full of extra pens, and a keyboard … oh and my cat, Bruce Wayne (he’s Batcat). He often hangs out with me, whether I want him to or not. Sometimes he’ll add to a document, so I have to watch him or else annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn98iaasf.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

Nah, my writing is strange enough (girls falling in love with giant snakes, sarcastic computers, dragons popping up all over the place) on its own without the writing method being weird, too. When I write I channel a whole other version of me. Usual me doesn’t plan ahead, makes business decisions with coin flips, never does the same thing the same way twice because “boring.” Writer me just sits down at a desk and writes … well, sometimes at a McDonald’s play place, but you work with what you’re given. I do most of my writing at night after my kids are in bed. I usually listen to instrumental music (epic soundtracks and video game music are the best), and to keep myself focused, I time myself in ten minute word sprints allowing a short “distraction break” between them. I do this over and over again until I have my word count goal (1000 words a day) met. Then if I’m feeling inspired I’ll keep going until I’m too tired to write any more … or if I just barely got that thousand words out and can’t do any more, I’ll switch from epic music to ASMR videos (it’s a weird thing, but it relaxes me… it’s people on youtube making videos where they softly tell stories or paint pictures or cut hair or something. It’s a thing, I swear. Look it up.) until I’ve relaxed enough to go to bed. There may be a glass of red wine or a cup of hot herbal tea involved as well.

* (If interviewing for a series) Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next? (If interviewing for a stand-alone) What’s next on your plate?

After I finished Coiled, I started on a magician themed new adult fantasy series called Spellsmith and Carver. It’s about two young men, Auric Spellsmith, the estranged biological son of a magician, and Jericho Carver, the same magician’s adopted apprentice, who start out as rivals but are forced to work together when Fey forces threaten their fractured family. I actually already finished the first book and released it on May 6th … I work a lot faster self-publishing than I do with my publisher (Coiled is published through Uncommon Universes Press and will be released on June 15th), but both methods have their advantage. I’m now writing book two in the Spellsmith and Carver series. I enjoy writing these two characters who are opposites in pretty much every way, but who develop a mutual respect that takes them from near enemies to closer than brothers. Plus the series has a magical clockwork fox. I really want my own magical clockwork fox. His name is Jaspyr.

(I’m currently reading the first Spellsmith and Carver and yes, it’s as fabulous as it sounds.)

Thanks for visiting! Here’s more information about Coiled..CoiledFrontCover (1)(1)

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

A YA mythology/romance that retells the myth of Eros and Psyche with adventure, magic, and true love.

Catch up with H. L. Burke here: Website | Facebook | Instagram


Published by H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

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