Didn't I tell you that I wanted an eclectic mix of authors to introduce on my blog? Well, we've had a pretty good mix so far, but this next author is bringing us into a whole new level of writing.
Heidi Lyn Burke is "what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture". When I saw this quote on her website's bio, I thought that was a pretty cool admission. She grew up loving Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings. This fandom led to her successfully publishing a series of middle grade fantasy books, which I will probably be downloading for my four kids.
Here's what this "fan"-tastic author had to say in answer to my questions.
Me: How often do you write on your book and about how many words a day do you try to write?
HLB: When I'm seriously working on the writing stage of a book, my (loose) goal is a thousand words a day. I say loose because if I'm on a roll, I don't stop and can get up to 4000 words in a day ... and some days there are other things that absolutely have to take precedent (sick kids, birthdays, my husband having a day off) and I give myself permission not to do as much. I think flexibility is important. Especially if you're like me. I'm a creative/chaotic personality type and I find routine stifling. I need to mix things up. I have to change the time of day I write or the environment around me on a fairly regular basis or I get stale.
A lot of writers are all about schedules and goals and hard deadlines, but there are people who actually work less effectively this way. What works for you is way more important than the mythical perfect schedule that works for everyone.
Me: What is your goal or mission as a writer?
HLB: To write. That's basically it. I write whatever stories come to me, and sometimes individual stories have a deeper purpose or point ... but as a whole, I'm just interested in chasing down ideas and exploring possibilities. Creativity is a purpose unto itself, I suppose. I don't think it needs anything more to be worth it.
Me: In which genre so you specialize?
HLB: Various sorts of fantasy. I have written some short pieces that were more "realistic fiction," but when I have to spend any length of time in a world, I want an element of the fantastic.
Me: Can you tell us what you're working on right now?
HLB: I'm mostly in editing stages right now, having finished a book about three weeks ago. I am doing late drafts on a Young Adult Steampunk Novella (just polishing it up and making it pretty) and early edits on an Epic Fantasy (fixing plot and continuity issues). I hope to have both available in the next few months.
Me: How did you come up with the concept for that?
HLB: The Epic Fantasy is the second in a series, so I'll focus on the YA Steampunk: I was thinking about adventure games, you know, the sort where characters have to explore a world and solve puzzles. I wanted to write a character interacting in a world somewhat like that ... I started off with her trying to escape a room (again, an idea from computer games) but then thought, "Maybe it would be cooler if she were trying to break IN to a room. Why would she do that? She's not a thief, is she? What is her purpose? Who would she have to talk to in this solitary pursuit? What if it was someone on a walkie talkie ... or what if it were a computer? A sentient computer ... and WHAT IF there were killer robots? Killer robots ... I like killer robots."
That's basically how my brain works.
Me: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
HLB: Mostly they send me dragon pictures. I'm very fond of dragons. I'm active on social media, so I have plenty of people who I chat with about books and fantasy and writing. The best interactions, though, are when something I've written encourages their own creativity, like one reader who made dressed up as one of my characters or others who have drawn pictures of things in my books.
Me: Have you had to struggle through the dreaded writer's block? If so, how do you work through it?
HLB: I've struggled through not feeling like writing ... but the cure for that is to just write anyway ... and I've struggled through not knowing how to solve a plot problem ... and the cure is often to write ABOUT my writing, making notes and messing with ideas until something sticks ... so the cure for writer's block is writing. Sometimes, though, what people mean by writer's block is exhaustion. Nobody should be expected to write constantly without ever taking a break. Sometimes you need to get out, talk a walk, read a book, just do something other than write, so your brain can rest.
Me: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
HLB: You can visit me on my website at www.hlburkeauthor.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/hlburkewriter or follow me on Twitter @typativemamacat.
If you have children with an active imagination, like I do, you're going to want to check out Heidi's website and books on Amazon. Click on any of the above links or her books and it will take you directly to her sites. -AJ