Author Interview: H. L. Burke — Stop #6 of the Coiled blog tour!

Author Interview: H. L. Burke — Stop #6 of the Coiled blog tour!

Welcome to the Coiled blog tour: a collection of posts celebrating the release of the new YA Mythological Romance from Uncommon Universes Press and author, H. L. Burke. Via the links below you will find interviews, informational and entertaining posts about the story behind the story, and of course, sneks.

Such as this adorable cutie:

Before we move on to all the links (and explaining why Pistachio has a note in his mouth), I’d like to welcome H. L. Burke to my blog!

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.

Follow her personal blog at, or connect with her through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Thanks so much for joining me today, H. L.! I’m looking forward to interviewing you, but first let’s share a bit about Coiled for those who haven’t yet read my book review.

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.

I really, really love that cover… Now, I hope you’re ready for the interview questions! Here’s the first one: Could you tell us a bit about the main protagonist of Coiled, Princess Laidra?

Laidra is a major study in “good news, bad news.” Good news, she can heal with a touch. Bad news, every time she uses her power, her physical appearance suffers. Healing a scrape might sprout a mole. Mending a broken arm might cause some of her hair to fall out, and it’s all irreversible. If up to her parents, she probably simply wouldn’t have ever used her gift, but since it works by touch and is somewhat out of her control, the effects had already made her horrid to look upon before they realized what exactly was going on, leading her mother, who is all about appearances, to hide Laidra beneath veils and ban her from all public gatherings.

Also, by the time we meet Laidra, she’s sixteen and well aware she’ll never be pretty, so she doesn’t really care about getting any uglier. She sneaks around healing people behind her mother’s back, and her greatest dream is to somehow escape the palace and use her gift openly.

I think my favorite thing about Laidra is that those around her have done everything they can to make her feel worthless and unwanted and rather than give into it, she latches onto what good she can do in the world and focuses outward on helping others rather than inward on the fact that nothing seems to be able to help her.

Laidra’s definitely one of my favorite protagonists. I love how she focuses on helping others, despite what it costs her. Could you tell us a bit about the other main protagonist, Prince Calen?

Similarly to Laidra, Calen is struck with a curse (and there’s a reason they both have curses, but I’m going to be mean and make you read the book to get the details … I almost said “the deetz,” but the one time I did that my cover designer/friend who I said it too forbid me to ever say that again. She’s no fun.), but his makes him turn into a giant serpent every time someone looks at him. There are, of course, ways to balance this. If he’s alone, he’s fine. If he’s with someone but that person is blindfolded, he’s fine. If he’s with someone, but it is too dark for them to see anything but a shadowy outline, he’s fine. As a serpent, however, he loses his knowledge of himself, and becomes a mindless, and very dangerous, wild animal.

Because of this, Calen has lived his life very much alone. Even his mother, who is loving and would do anything to save him from his curse, is unable to look upon him, and Calen is terrified that during one of her visits the blindfold will slip, and he’ll transform and hurt her. Harming another human being his worst nightmare, he’s resolved himself to being alone.

I think having so much power to harm, however, led to his determination to be very careful with others. He’s gentle, caring, puts others ahead of himself to an extreme. He’s also awkward and shy, and just generally kind of a sweetie.

He is SUCH a sweetie. When I was reading my ARC, there were times I just wanted to give him a hug. (And I know the deetz, but I’m also keeping my lips sealed.)

I really liked the fact that Calen turned into a serpent–always wanted one as a kid, but Mom vetoed that. Did you base his transformed look on any specific snake?

Cobra+Emerald Boa+Made Up Elements That I Felt Were Cool.

He’s definitely a constrictor, huge, broad, powerful, not particularly fast on land (I actually researched the land speed of snakes. They are not as fast as swallows, either the African or European variety), bright green with glowing eyes, and (this is where the cobra comes in) venomous fangs. I also mirrored some of the actions people use to control him when he turns on snake charming, so that is also cobra-ish.

Some things I made up: his scales are smooth when rubbed “the right way” but if you go against them they are razor sharp and can tear up your skin, and he is described as having a fringe along his back (kind of a crest) which is more “dragon” than “snake” but I wanted something to make him seem a little bit “other-worldly” rather than just “oh, that’s a really big snake there.”

He’s definitely very cool-looking! If scary, given his size. Wouldn’t want to meet him on a bright sunny day (I’d say dark night, but he’d be human then, lol.) Now, speaking of darkness, let’s go to the dark side for a moment and say that Laidra’s and Calen’s roles were reversed. If Princess Laidra turned into a creature, what kind of creature do you think she’d become?

Easy answer, since this is based on Greek mythology, is a Gorgon, but I’m not sure if that’s what you mean by creature because a Gorgon is humanoid, but the concepts of “so ugly you turn to stone when you see them” and the snake hair is probably where I’d take it (I do have Gorgons in the book, but because of the whole “don’t look at them directly” thing, we only get hints on what they look like).

If I have to pick a more animal-like being, probably a motherly hen but with a really bad case of molt.

I’d say calling a Gorgon a creature would be rude, although I do understand that Laidra’s looks have probably led to her being called worse, poor thing. A motherly hen fits her personality so well, though!

Now to change tracks a bit–could you please share something interesting about yourself?

Besides the obvious (I write books. I’m really into dragons. I often speak in Psych quotes and memes.): I have an extremely good memory for words/concepts/ideas/characters. People often ask me about the notes I take for my books or if I have things written out somewhere, and I really don’t. It’s 90% in my head (and 10% scribbled in illegible margin notes on my handy dandy notebook … yes, I did just say handy dandy notebook. I’m a mom, all right?) … but I can also pinpoint guest stars across various TV shows, remember the majority of lines from my favorite shows, and the plots/characters of nearly every book I’ve ever read. For instance, my second or third favorite TV show Grimm (rest in peace, Grimm, you are missed) started every episode with a quote, and I could usually pinpoint the story based on the quote (if it was a story I was actually familiar with. A lot of times they’d pull the quote from something I wasn’t, but if I HAD read the quote, I could say, “Oh, that’s Frankenstein …” or “Oh, we’re doing Sirens this week, how droll…” I made up the Sirens example. I don’t think they actually did a Sirens episode, but dang, they should’ve.)

That’s awesome! I suffer from a rather faulty memory myself, so I envy your superpower. Handy dandy notebooks for the win!

Next question: Coiled is releasing in just a few days, but I bet you’re already deep in another project–what are you working on now?

Second book in my Spellsmith and Carver series. I love this series because of the character dynamics. I call it a “magician buddy cop” book, not because they solve crime, but because I pulled heavily on the “two opposites forced to work together who become an unstoppable team” trope. My last several books have been female-led (The Nyssa Glass series, Coiled is romantic so it has a male/female lead team, but it is really Laidra’s story and the majority of non-Calen interactions are between her and Calen’s mother or her and her own mother and sister, Cora and the Nurse Dragon … all very much my own version of strong female characters for the leads, not a lot of punching or angst, but young ladies who know who they are and what they believe in and who stand up for those things.), but I like to write guys. I find them intriguing and adorable, so writing a story about male friendship has been kind of a nice break for me. Plus with two guys in the lead, I can have TWO romances which can be in different places, so in book two I have both a committed couple who would do anything for each other and a fledgling flirtation between two individuals who are very uncertain of their own standing. It’s fun.

Awesome! I really enjoyed the first Spellsmith and Carver book, so I look forward to the sequel.

To end on a lighthearted note, here’s an easy question! I know you really, really love dragons, but what is your favorite mythical creature other than dragons? Why? (Please don’t send Theodore after me.)

Do snakes count? How about snakes? Are sea serpents/lake monsters too much like dragons? I was obsessed with Loch Ness and variants as a kid. I intend to take on a sea serpent at some point … but I also really like giant octopuses, or cute little ones (did you know that octopi is actually incorrect? Technically if you want to pluralize it, it would be “octopodes,” but nobody says that, so I’m sticking with octopuses.) … I really like the mythology of the Pacific Tree Octopus, which is an internet hoax, but that’s kind of modern mythology, right? I wrote a short story about one for the Fellowship of Fantasy Fantastic Creatures anthology (free to download, if you are curious).

That short story is actually on my list of things to read (but, obviously, Coiled needed to come first!) I’ve known octopi was incorrect for pretty much as long as I can remember–we discussed it in a biology class I took in college, and I was surprised that some people didn’t know. I love octopuses as well–they’re so adorable!

Thanks so much for being here today, H. L.! I wish you and Coiled the best with your launch!

Readers, here’s a little more information about the blog tour for you!

Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. Look for a photo of either or both of those little guys holding up a note. (Such as the one at the top of this post!) Each note is part of a secret phrase. When you have all seven pieces of our secret phrase, click here and fill out the form. All correct entries will be put into a random drawing for a signed paperback of Coiled. The winner will be drawn at the Facebook party on June 23rd.

Blog Tour Dates

June 5 – Liz Delton, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 7 – Monsters, Misfits, Mushy Stuff Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 8 – Brianna Merritt, Book Spotlight
June 10 – Rebekah Gyger, Greek Gods Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 12 – A. R. Silverberry, Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 13 – Heather Hayden, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 14 – Lea Doue, Author Interview
June 15 – Alyson, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 20 – Jebraun Clifford, Guest Blog
June 22 – Laura Pol, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 23 – Olivia Fisher, Book Spotlight




In the vein of Eros and Psyche, two cursed souls find each other on a forsaken isle and together must shed the darkness inflicted upon them–or else live as monsters forever.

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  1. Sparksofember

    My family obsessively remembers movies/shows and has a game where we quote movies at each other and see if the other person can figure out which movie it came from. We love trying to stump each other. Hubby doesn’t get it at all. 😉

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