Saturday, April 11, 2020

Reformed by H.L. Burke and Author Interview

Launching May 1st, the first in a new
superhero series by H.L. Burke!

Book Description:

Once a villain, always a villain?

Optimistic and idealistic superhero Prism is determined to redeem her father’s legacy by rebooting his super villain rehabilitation program. To do so, she sets her sights on Fade, the relapsed super villain who was the reason the government canceled the original program in the first place. However, when she petitions for Fade to be released into her custody, she finds out things might not be as simple as she thought.

Convicted of an unforgivable crime, Fade received a choice: surrender to trial and possible execution or endure a memory erasure so he could start fresh. Now with no recollection of his time before incarceration, Fade doubts he has the ability to be anything but the villain the public believe him to be.

A series of attacks by a mysterious power-swapping villain points back to Fade’s past and the crime that cost him his freedom and memory. With her father's legacy and her own reputation on the line, even Prism has to wonder: can a villain truly be reformed?

Pre-order sale on now!


H.L. Burke Interview

H.L. Burke with Bruce

When did you start out as an indie author? Where were you living at the time? Were you already a mom needing to squeeze time in to write?

I joke that I didn't write for the first five years of my marriage because I was just too happy and things just kept moving too fast. It was like BOOM! Marriage! BOOM! Matt deploying. BOOM! Baby! BOOM! International movie! BOOM! Another baby! BOOM! Another move! BOOM! A new puppy!

And weirdly I didn't stop being happy and things did not stop moving quickly, I just one day decided, "Huh, I have a 4 year old, an infant, a new puppy, and we just moved from Japan to Florida where I know nobody ... this is a good time to start writing seriously again." I think this was 2012. I started doing NaNoWriMo 2012, wrote consistently through 2013, finished the fourth book in my first series during NaNoWriMo 2013, then published my first book in January of 2014.

I never thought of it as having to squeeze things in. I'm chaotic. I don't do routine. The more haphazard and crazy my schedule is, the more in the groove I get.

How long does it normally take you to write a book? Would you say editing takes longer than the initial first draft?

This depends a lot on the length of the book. I do have a series of novellas. Those can take around two weeks for writing and maybe two weeks for editing because they are short. A full-length book, a good guess is a month and a half for writing, another month and a half to get it publishing ready. When I first got started, editing did take a lot longer than writing, but I've internalized how I want things to work enough that my first drafts are now basically 90% of what goes to print. I do still seek outside input on the books, which does slow the editing process down a little, but generally editing is faster than writing, just with a lot of waiting for beta readers and proof copies and stuff.

How many books do you write in a year on average?

This sounds like math. Is this a math question? I'm not very good at math. I think four. Not always full length, though. I do love novellas. They're tight and get the story wrapped up in a neat little bundle.

Where do you normally like to write?

Wherever I am. If everything is normal, I'll write in the evening in the office/computer room where my desktop is. I also sneak writing at my day job. Write on notebooks if I'm in waiting rooms. I've been known to type a little on my phone if I'm stuck somewhere and get an idea.

What time in the day do you enjoy writing the most?

I'm a night owl. I tend to get distracted easier during the day, so after the kids are in bed for the night is ideal.

Keeping in mind that you have pets, which one interrupts you the most when you’re writing?

Currently, the dang border collie, Gideon. He has this trick where he gets under my elbow and nose bumps me until I pet him. The cat will sometimes walk in my face or attack my hands, but mostly he's off doing his cat thing.

Gideon and Brownie Bite

You are a genre hopping author. Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet? Do you have a favorite genre?

There are a lot of genres I haven't really touched. Hard science fiction. Contemporary romance. Historical. Mystery. I tend to avoid any that have a stricter framework or more genre 'rules.' Honestly, almost all my books are some form of fantasy. There are the Steampunk books, but even those are "this technology might as well be magic" level "science" fiction, and I see Superhero as a subset of Urban Fantasy. I think the subgenre I find the easiest in is fairy tale, but all of my work is very 'fantasy but outside of the box.' I make my own genre conventions rather than subscribe to any particular set.

What does a normal week’s schedule look like for you (before COVID-19)?

I don't have a normal. Part of it is personality. I have never been able to keep up a routine for long without getting bored and changing it all around ... which is a good thing because military wife life means that every time I've come close to getting a routine, something has disrupted it. A move. A deployment. Base wide power outages. Hurricanes and earthquakes have also been factors. The answer to this question has changed roughly every six months for as long as I can remember, and right now I am in a transition period with my husband getting medically separated from the Marines where I'm honestly not sure what my life is going to look like in a month let alone a year.

It's a weird sort of privilege that Covid did not disrupt my life, because my life has never not been disrupted. It's just how I live. It frustrates my family because they're used to civilian life where vacations are planned months in advance, and I'm like, "Look, I can't promise that if I make a plan now I'll be able to stick to it because too much is out of my control, so I'd just rather not make a plan."

It drives my mom crazy. She is a schedule/planner/routine person, and I think she'd implode if she had to live my life for even a week. I think she thinks I'm just messing with her when I don't give her straight answers about long term plans.

I'd say ask me this question again in a year. Maybe Matt getting out of the Marine Corp will mean we settle into a life that doesn't have radical shifts, but I also know that he's planning on going back to school and then finding a new job ... I very much doubt settled will happen until that's all done, so ... ask me in four to five years?

Where do you find inspiration?

Where don't I?
Spice Bringer and Heart of the Curiosity were inspired by 'weird history facts' videos. Ashen (coming August 2020) was inspired because I was cold. That's pretty much it. I was cold and started thinking about a character where her primary state of being is cold and what if she also made other people cold ... my superhero book was because way back in the day I got bored in the theater watching the Edward Norton Hulk ... sorry, Hulk.

I actually love Marvel movies, but I don't think they'd figured out what they wanted at that point. I didn't get "into" Marvel movies until (weirdly) Thor. I don't know what it is about Thor because it's NOT the best of the Marvel movies by any means, but I think that's when I realized that Iron Man wasn't a one off and that this "universe" could actually exist.

So anyway, during Hulk I was like, "This is okay, but I don't know. It's missing things. If I were writing a super hero story..." so I started making my own list of superhero tropes that I liked and how I would play with them and every so often would revisit the idea, add a little to it, until it came into being. My stories are often like that. I'll get a hint of an idea, throw it in the back of my mind with all the other ideas, let them stick to each other, bump against each other, and then check on them in a year or two and see if they've developed into something interesting.

With my superhero story, especially, the things I tossed into that "simmer pot" to see what flavors would develop were numerous. The renaissance of superhero art in the last decade or so means that a lot of different things have been explored and there was a lot of me going, "Oh, I like that, but what if..." or "Captain Marvel proved that we need more cats in superhero fiction. Gonna have a cat."

In case you are wondering, I do have a cat in my superhero book.

Bruce memorialized as a superhero cat

Where/How do you get recharged?

Mostly gaming. Game of choice differs from time to time. Stardew Valley is my current favorite. I love my little farm. I have a bunch of livestock and fishponds and fields that take me two 'in game days' to plant every season.

Thanks for Reading,
H.(Heidi) L. Burke

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