Guest Post: H.L. BURKE on Her Creative Process – “Ideas are kind of like rabbits”

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a reading adventure. For the first time in years, I decided to read a fantasy novel.  I loved it. Beggar Magic was a delightful read that left me in awe of the author’s creativity.  I was thrilled when H.L. Burke agreed to do a guest post on my blog.


Where do I get my ideas? 

11755639_10154140291146002_1215304829087524943_nIdeas are kind of like rabbits. You let them run free, and they’ll find other ideas and make little idea babies, often more than you can handle, and sometimes you’ll end up sitting in front of Walmart with a box of ideas, begging other writers to take them and give them a good home because you really would like to give them the time and attention they deserve, but you already have a backlog of ideas, and you know you will never finish, and your only hope is that they have word processors in Heaven. Sorry for the 89 word sentence. I’ve had a lot of coffee.

Like a lot a lot.
Like I replaced my bloodstream with coffee around 2007. Where was I?

Honestly, though, I think most ideas spring from taking something and looking at it in a new way. This can be as simple as changing your perspective or listening to someone who comes at it from another direction.

Take spiders. Most people don’t like spiders. Myself, I find them genuinely creepy. While I know they eat bugs and rarely devour humans, I still think they are devil-eyed spawns of Ungoliant.

What if, however, I put myself in the mindset of someone who likes spiders? What does this someone see in them? How do they feel constantly seeing their favorite animals mocked and squashed? Are they afraid to invite friends over because they worry people won’t understand their arachnophilia? Do they try to get a puppy so they can be like normal people but end up naming it Spidey and dressing it up in one of those spider-dog costumes for Halloween? And what if they found someone who didn’t think they were odd? What would the relief and excitement be like to finally be understood or at least accepted?

And that’s an idea. All I did was pick the first random thing to pop into my head and ask how it might look to someone else.

My personal tastes tend towards fantasy because the potential “what ifs” are endless, but really, the real world offers a ton of wonder … endless wonder. Why? Because each person is like a prism bringing a new viewpoint, filtered through life experiences, personality, and many other factors. Because God didn’t say, “Meh, I’ll only color in the interesting parts. No one’s ever going to see it if I put crystals at the bottom of this cave or colorful birds on this isolated island.” He stretched Creation into the depths of the ocean and far flung reaches of space. It’s all out there. That’s pretty inspiring.

Ask a simple question. Take a premise that’s been done to death and add a “what if?”

What if the knight came to rescue the princess from the dragon and the princess said, “No, thanks, I like this dragon. We’re friends now.”

What if magic existed but people used it the way modern people use technology … and then what happens if you take it away?

If a cat and a dragon were roommates, which would be the pet?

What if fires were sentient?

Those four basic questions all spawned novels (Dragon’s Curse, Beggar Magic, Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon, and Lands of Ash), but if you answered each of them, I bet the resulting stories would be totally different. They’d go through your prism and come out unique.

beggarmagic 3booksheidi_ landsofash

About H.L. Burke

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.

She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Scholar and the Dragon“, featuring the books Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival, and Dragon’s Bride as well as the YA/Fantasy Beggar Magic. Her current projects are a children’s chapter book and an epic fantasy trilogy.

Connect with H.L. Burke:

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7 thoughts on “Guest Post: H.L. BURKE on Her Creative Process – “Ideas are kind of like rabbits”

  1. Loved this interview with H.L. Burke and her thoughts on ideas being like rabbits. That is so true.

    Recently, I wrote a couple of short stories in the fantasy genre. The ideas that spawn from those are endless. Although normally I write Christian/Romance/Drama, I am planning to continue writing fantasy as well.

    Thank you, CassidySalem for introducing us to this talented writer.

    Liked by 1 person

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