Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives. This week I welcome H. L. Burke
H. L. Burke is the self-published author of multiple fantasy novels including the Dragon and the Scholar saga and The Nyssa Glass YA Steampunk series and Coiled.
She is an admirer of the whimsical, a follower of the Light, and a believer in happily ever after.
Wolf: If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
H. L.: Cat-Dragon. It’s a thing. If it isn’t a thing, it should be. I fly and breathe fire, but am also soft and fuzzy and I purr and knock things off the table just to test gravity.
Wolf: What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
H. L.: Does a caterpillar I swallowed in middle school just to show off count as food? I tend to be kind of adventurous, and I did live in Japan for a while, so I’ve had authentic Sushi and whole dried fish on rice for breakfast and things like that. Squid on a stick? Good flavor, rubbery texture. I think the most, “huh,” thing I had in Japan, were various pastries I assumed were chocolate filled only to find out it was black bean paste instead. That never failed to fill me with chagrin. Beans aren’t something I particularly like, especially in dessert.
Wolf: If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
H. L.: Can I say cat-dragon here, too? Seriously, no one, NO ONE, messes with you if you have a cat-dragon. Especially mice-dragons. Mice-dragons are the worst and a cat-dragon is really the only defense against them. If it must be a non-sentient weapon, when I used to do some online RP’ing my character was armed with a frying pan. I swear this was years before Tangled. In fact, I’m 90% sure Disney stumbled onto a thread on my Tolkien fan forum and found a scene where my cat riding character was fighting off giant Mirkwood spiders with a frying pan and said, “Oh, that’s cool. We’ll do that.”
Wolf: You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.
H. L.: I’m a plant.
Dang, that was easy …
Oh, what? More detail?
Gee, demanding, aren’t we? Hmm … plant me is an air plant. Roots are for suckers. I’m flexible. I can pretty much grow anywhere as long as you spritz me with water on occasion. Plus my hair is a mess and I don’t do well-organized gardens. But yeah, you have some pots hanging from the ceiling, I’ll swing there for a while. I’m just tiny and adorable but maybe a little big pokey.
Wolf: Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
H. L.: I think the fact that I’ve managed to answer “cat-dragon” to two of these questions so far gives you a pretty good hint on where I fall on the “cat or dog” scale. I have a dog. He’s a nice enough dog. He’s just not as personally attached to me as my cat, Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is a humongous orange cat with the best personality. He just showed up on our doorstep one day and decided he was going to stay. We take a lot of selfies together, and he sleeps at the foot of my daughters’ beds (he rotates). When Coryn (my older daughter) was sick, he camped out next to her on the couch for three days straight.
He’s also still very “cat.” Once I walked in on him nudging a book towards the edge of the table and caught it before it hit the floor. He gave me a look that could kill because I’d ruined his “experiment.” He always steals my chair and sits on whatever I’m working on. He also does this thing where he’ll jump up next to me while I’m eating and try to steal my food. He’s amazing.
Wolf: While walking in the woods you come across…
H. L.: A glowing blue egg about the size of a cantaloupe. Warm to the touch, it emits a strange rumbling noise. Almost a purr … actually, exactly a purr. I pick it up and press it to my cheek. The purring intensifies. Then (crack) the egg hatches. A furry face with an adorable pink nose gazes up at me. It spreads its bat-like wings and meows gently. I have finally found my cat-dragon. I name him Englebriet.
Wolf: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
H. L.: Teleportation. I hate driving and there are a lot of things I would do if I could get there instantly. They say the journey is a point unto itself, but if the journey is being stuck in traffic or a tiny airplane seat, I think I’m okay skipping it.
Wolf: There is a door at the end of a dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?
H. L.: I summon Englebriet, my cat-dragon. He’s older now, about the size of a German Shepherd. He paces at my side, wings low, tail twitching. This is what he’s trained for, for beyond that door lies the lair of the insidious mouse-dragon who has been stealing the precious grain reserves from the nearby village. The door flies open, and the mouse-dragon flaps his wings and roars. His end is nigh, but the battle will be great (to be continued).
Wolf: The world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?
H. L.: (My instinct is to just answer “My husband” and leave it at that, but that might be a little more PG13 than you’re looking for, though, honestly, yeah … so I’ll give you a back-up answer, and you can leave this off if desired.). Something fun. I mean, assuming there is nothing heroic I can do to stop it and I’m not simultaneously granted powers to go anywhere and do anything so I’m like here at home, I’d probably just find something pleasant to do with my near to me family and chill and wait. Death doesn’t scare me all that much.
Wolf: Which of your characters is your favorite?
H. L.: Ellis Dalhart from the Nyssa Glass series. He’s buoyant, supportive of the female lead (Nyssa), resourceful, and hilarious. Though if you don’t like puns, he might annoy you after a bit. He really, really likes puns.
Wolf: Describe a meal you would be served while visiting another world.
H. L.: Fresh off our victory over the mouse-dragon, Englebriet takes me to the land of the cat-dragons where we are treated to a feast of sumptuous tuna. There is a catnip sorbet and some fine catnip wine. It is a grand time.
Wolf: What story are you working on now?
H. L.: I finished the first draft of the third book in my Spellsmith & Carver trilogy at the end of August and am slowly polishing it up for release. I have not decided what I will be writing next, but I have a few things percolating.
Wolf: You look like you could use a cat-dragon. Do you want one?
H. L.: YES! SO SO VERY MUCH!
H. L. Burke’s work can be purchased on Amazon.