I am very happy today to welcome author Heidi Lyn Burke, who I met through the Magic Appreciation Tour.
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.
Heidi is launching a new novel, Beggar Magic.
Heidi, Please tell us about your book.
Beggar Magic is a young adult fantasy set in a world of audible magic. The Strains are an invisible, intelligent force that communicate with various sounds, from voices to musical instruments, and they permeate the world of this story. It’s like living with your own soundtrack, which was fun to play with. It’s also about friendship and finding your place in the world. My last several books before this one had a focus on romance, so I wanted to take a break from that as my primary focus. Not that this book doesn’t have a little bit of romance. It does, but just a little. (I’m addicted to writing kissing scenes, so I had to slip at least one in there)
Who are the main characters? What are the challenges they face?
The main character is Leilani Weaver, but her best friend, Zebedy, is pasted to her side for most of the story. Leilani is of a lower class than Zeb and doesn’t have as much access to the magic. However, she’s more persistent and has both courage and common sense. When unknown forces threaten the Strains, Leilani’s the one who has to take charge. Since she’s considered a ‘second class citizen’, she has to fight for people to listen to her and take her seriously, and in the end her desire to find the truth no matter the cost endangers even her friendship with Zeb, who is a little less of a rule breaker.
What inspires you to write?
Writing lets me live vicariously through my characters. I started writing to put myself into the stories I enjoyed reading as a kid, but after a bit it becomes a part of your brain you just can’t turn off. I can hardly read now without thinking, “Well, this story is great, but what if. . .” and making my own versions or alternate ending.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process?
Finding the right story. I flail about every time I finish a piece, spending months writing the first few pages of one thing after another, only to get frustrated and put it aside. I swear I go through a dozen ideas trying to find exactly what I want to write. Once I get in a groove, I love it, but gosh, getting there takes a lot of twisting and turning.
What do you enjoy most about crafting a story?
Getting into my characters and letting them live the story. It’s almost like I’m following them around watching them do stuff.
Any projects in the works right now? Tell us what we can expect in the future.
I usually have one piece I’m writing and one I’m editing. I jokingly call it my writing assembly line. Right now I’m on mid-way drafts of a middle grade chapter book called Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon. It’s so stinking cute that some people who have read it have gone into shock. I’m thinking about putting a warning label on it. Seriously, the main character is an eternal kitten who never grows up and can fit into his owner’s slippers. Also, it has a dragon. I’m simultaneously writing (for National Novel Writing Month) an epic fantasy piece with the working title Lands of Ash, but that’s just a baby novel right now. We’ll have to see what it looks like when it grows up.
Who are the authors that have most influenced you?
It’s weird because the authors I like the most, I don’t particularly write like. My favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien, Kate DiCamillo, and Dostoevsky. However, the ones who influenced me the most would probably be Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine, simply because they introduced me to the “full length fairy tale” format that I usually work in. I like the concept of taking time honored tales and tropes and putting my own twist on them.
What is your approach to marketing? Any tools out there that every writer should be aware of?
I’m still very much a beginner in marketing. Right now I’m still dealing with readers and bloggers one on one whenever I can, creating fans by just being me and being open to communicating with people about my work. I think it is because I spent some time blogging before I started publishing my fiction. Blogging is more about “selling” my personality and creating connections. I will say, though, that you kind of have to be willing to give as much as you get. I help bloggers promote their pages on my pages. I retweet and like and pin, for other authors, yes, but also for book review bloggers and others who can use a hand up. People get sick of self-promotion really quick, so you have to have something out there, something they can identify with and come back for, even if it is just sharing Doctor Who memes on your Facebook page when nothing else is going on.
Everyone has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you?
To some extent, I’ve already reached my original definition of success: I wanted to have people read and enjoy my books. It’s so annoying having all these worlds and characters and ideas and not having anyone else know about them. When I first decided to self-publish, it was just because I wanted to share it all with someone, anyone, even if only friends and family. Now I have fans, people who talk about my stories and characters the way I would gush about Aragorn or Princess Leia, or any of the other fictional folks who kept me company growing up. I will admit, though, that it would be nice to be able to support my family on this venture. My “other job” is as a stay at home mom, which I love, but financially my family depends on my husband. I’d like him to be able to retire when he reaches 20 years in service (he’s in the military) and for us to be able to live off of what I do, sort of for it to be my turn to be the bread winner. That’s my current goal.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I watch way too much television, crochet, and play an occasional computer game. I used to be a World of Warcraft addict, but I had to put that aside to make time for my writing. I still indulge in an occasional puzzle or adventure game. In fact, a lot of the aesthetics of Beggar Magic were inspired by the Myst series of games.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I consider myself a fun writer. I don’t tackle a lot of difficult topics. I’d prefer to make people laugh and smile than to make them cry. I do admit, though, the first time someone told me a scene in one of my stories had brought them to tears, I did get a little evilly gleeful, but I usually end my stories in a happy or at least hopeful place. I believe in fidelity and family and good old fashioned heroism. I’m a romantic, so yeah, I want people to be happy when they finish one of my books and feeling like they’ve had a bit of an adventure along with my characters.
available December 9th, 2014
In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.
With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.
As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.
Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.
Link to H. L. Burke on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7230868.H_L_Burke
Link to H. L. Burke on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter
Author Website: http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/