Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Meet MG/YA Author H. L. Burke

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Middle Grade/YA Fantasy author H. L. Burke.

First, a bit about H. L.:

I'm a military wife and mother of two who has always loved to live in fantasy worlds. I grew up in rural Oregon, accompanied by trees and books, and I am a firm believer in happily ever after.

Why did you pick to write books for MG/YA?

I write where the story takes me. Some of my stories are intended for adults or at the very least older teens because I touch on more sensitive or mature topics, but occasionally I find a story that wants me to write it that is just good fun, as in this new book, Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon. It was like something was whispering to me, “Write a book where a kitten makes friends with a dragon!” and with the lightness of that material, middle grade seemed the appropriate audience.

What types of books do you like to read?

I like things that are whimsical and fun, mostly fantasy, but as a mom I read a lot of books aimed at younger audience. My favorite author of all time is J. R. R. Tolkien.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I play computer games a bit. My favorites being adventure games like the Myst series. I like to be able to explore interesting worlds and flip switches and see what happens.

Tell us about Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon and how the story came to be.

Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon
is a story about a pampered palace kitten who finds the ground ripped out from under him after a fateful birthday party. Thaddeus is a small hero, but he's determined to find his way back to his beloved princess. During his journey he fights rats, outsmarts bears, and befriends a dragon. 
I have a series written for older readers about dragons and also really love cats, so I have a reputation as the “cat and dragon” lady. Some time last year, a friend emailed me a picture of a cat rubbing up against a dragon statue where it looked like the stone dragon was petting it. I loved the idea of a cat and a dragon playing together, so I wrote a short story about it and read it to my daughter. She told me it was too short because she's too old for short stories. It needed to be a chapter book. So I thought, “Why not?” and wrote a chapter book with the same premise and characters.

Here's a peek at Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon:

Thaddeus F. Whiskers is a pampered palace pet, a kitten enchanted to never become a cat. Princess Clarice loves him, for in the entire kingdom, for there is no other kitten as cute or as clever. He leads a life of cushions and cream until a wizard's "gift" results in his banishment. Determined to make it back to the princess he loves, he escapes into the wilderness where he discovers the lair of a

Grandious, the dragon, doesn't care about anything besides himself. He wants to be left alone with his treasure. However, there is something about Thaddeus that has him entranced. He finds himself opening his home and his heart to the little cat. 

Thaddeus is a small creature in a big world. Between him and his beloved Princess stand conniving wizards, would-be-step-mothers, and rampaging rats. However, when danger threatens both Clarice and Grandious, Thaddeus won't allow his size to get in the way of saving his friends.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have a series of fantasy romance novels written for older teens and adults (clean, but people kissing and getting married and whatnot). The first book in that series is Dragon's Curse (like I said, I'm the dragon lady), and a young adult novel based in a fantasy world where magic is music you can hear all around you. That one is called Beggar Magic.  I love to take tropes or the expected and twist it into something new. I also like to have characters who readers can look up to and feel better for having spent time with.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

My next book is another “for grown-ups” piece because it deals with the aftermath of a war, and the loss and anger my characters feel can be pretty visceral at times. I would classify it as epic fantasy, a small band of survivors trying to hang on to what remains of their world after decades of violence. I may also be revisiting either Beggar Magic or Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon for a sequel sometime in the near future, but I don't have that plotted out yet.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write what you want to read because if you want to read it, chances are someone else will too. Markets change. Fads change, but a good story is timeless.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Cats used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt, and they are somehow very aware of this in spite of the fact that they can't read and don't take history classes. That's very important to keep in mind. At all times, we are in danger of an uprising where the cats will take over and demand our servitude once again. Treat them kindly, and when they come to power, they will have mercy upon you.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My Website.
You can purchase my books on Amazon


  1. Reminds me of DiCamillo's Despereaux story :) Haven't read anything with a cat and dragon in the same story! Thanks for recommending on KLBH!

    1. I love Kate DiCamillo. She's one of my three favorite authors.

  2. This book sounds so lovable. I wish my daughter were old enough for me to read it to her. I might just have to get it to read for myself. lol

    1. I will admit to reading "kids" books all the time. There are some excellent options out there.

  3. Sounds like a great book. I enjoyed reading this interview and excerpt. keep up the good work.

  4. Kittens and dragons? Yep - my kids would LOVE that combination! Thanks for introducing us to another author Cheryl!

    1. What's not to love about kittens? Or dragons? (well, dragons an sometimes eat you . . .there's that. . .)