Friday, November 4, 2022

A Superhero for Christmas Release Tour: Interview with H.L. Burke


Hello hello! This week, I'm hopping on the release festivity train for H.L. Burke's newest release, A Superhero for Christmas, which comes out tomorrow, November 5. This Supervillain Rehabilitation Project spinoff is a crossover between two genres: superhero action and Hallmark holiday-esque rom-com. I've really enjoyed Heidi's SVR books, and this was no exception. You can head over to Light and Shadows to find out what I liked, but before you do that, I have an interview with Heidi here in which we chat about story inspiration, the challenges of long series, and the best SVR character to make cookies with. Oh, and there's also a giveaway you can check out, wherein you can win a Superhero for Christmas gift basket and a Supervillain Rehabilitation Project ebook library. First, however, let's get the scoop on the book and author.

About . . .

A Superhero for Christmas

When superhero, Glint's, aka Henry Nichols's, powers go on the fritz after a supervillain attack, he finds himself rethinking his priorities. Years of devotion to public service have left him with little for himself, and with forty swiftly approaching, he finds himself longing for his youth on his grandfather's farm. An incognito vacation is just what he needs.

Former reporter Lara Landis lost her career and her only long-term relationship all in one humiliating blow. Broke and rudderless, she retreats to her parents' small town grocery store to try and make one last career rally, but how is she going to get a big scoop living in the middle of nowhere? When a poorly disguised superhero lands in her neighborhood, insisting that he's just a normal guy, she can't help but smell a story.

As their chance encounters turn into a begrudging friendship, Lara is surprised to find a caring, sincere human beneath Henry's press-conference-ready exterior. When the truth comes out, though, her big story could turn into his worst nightmare.

Order on Amazon || Add on Goodreads || Discover the SVR series


H.L. Burke

H. L. Burke has written more books than she can count—because she's written a lot of books, not just because she can't count very high. Easily distracted by shinies, she has published in many subgenres including fantasy romance, Steampunk, and superhero, and always creates story worlds with snark, feels, and wonder.

Married to her high school crush, she spends her time writing, spoiling her cat, and supervising her two supervillains in training (aka her precocious daughters).

An Oregon native, she wilts without trees and doesn't mind the rain. She is a fan of delicious flavor, a follower of the Light, and a believer in happily ever after.

Find Heidi online at: Author Website || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter


Interview with H.L. Burke

Welcome to the blog, Heidi! To start out, please tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, what are your favorite hobbies (aside from writing) or favorite books (outside your own), and do you prefer coffee or tea?

Hobbies: I’m a bit of a gamer. Currently most Lord of the Rings Online and Stardew Valley but I’ll dabble in other games from time to time. I do crochet a bit. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a little while now, and I think I’m starting to finally get the hang of it. I’ve got a level 10 Wizard who gets into trouble and some alts for smaller campaigns, and I’ve even DM’d a couple of one-off sessions.

Favorite books: Lord of the Rings, Coraline, Brother’s Dostoevsky, Cancer Ward, The Little Prince … those are my top five.

Coffee or Tea: insert “why not both” meme? Generally, it’s coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

I've seen some of your posts about your D&D adventures, and it sounds like y'all have a lot of fun. Where did you get the initial idea for A Superhero for Christmas, and did you come upon any other sources of inspiration while you were writing it?

So, Glint, the main character (or at least half of the main couple, romances kind of split the MC focus between the male and female) is a long-time character in my superhero universe, and he started out as kind of a joke character. The idea was that he was a cheesy Superman stand-in that was so into the role that it kind of became his whole personality … but apparently I can’t write joke characters because even in his first appearance he has some moments of really distinct humanity, and as he continued to show up and kind of mature, I realized that he was really lonely.

He’s the son of a politician who pushed him to always be the best but who valued appearance over sincerity, but Glint’s main quality is that he is super sincere. He doesn’t appear that way but it’s because he’s bought into the idea of being the perfect hero. It’s not just a mask for him. It’s what he identifies as, what he thinks he has to be in order to be “enough,” but when that’s your whole focus, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for vulnerability and making connections. When he let his “cape slip” in Power Up (the fourth book in my young adult series in this world) to come to a friend out of uniform to warn her that something was going down off the record, I kind of stared at this scene and realized that this is a guy who deep down really just wants someone to accept him for who he is but doesn’t see his own value outside of the spectacle and his ability to do his job well.

So … what would happen if you took that job away from him? What if he HAD to interact as a normal human for a while?

The fact that he was originally envisioned as kind of a Superman parody made me think of having his love interest be a reporter, and after that the story kind of wrote itself. I realized the plot I had in mind was super Hallmark, so I just nudged it into Christmas for the final cherry on top.

Makes sense. I really enjoyed getting into Glint's head when I was reading this book. Now, A Superhero for Christmas is the twelfth book in your superhero universe — that’s a pretty long time to spend in one set of series, especially for an indie author. What are some things you love about this story and storyworld that have kept you writing in it so long?

It’s the possibilities. I generally speaking design a world around what a story needs when I’m world-building. I’m practical that way. If I’m not going to use the city’s financial system or its history back thousands of generations or what sort of trees grow in the woods, I do not bother to incorporate it into my world-building. So most of my worlds are designed tightly around what the story needs and once I’ve used that up, there’s not a ton more to explore. Maybe little elements but they rarely catch my attention.

Similarly, I prefer a smaller cast of characters generally, so there aren’t a lot of side characters who are demanding spin-offs.

By its very nature, superheroes have a huge expansive world because it’s OUR world. Like I normally wouldn’t envision much outside the city the story takes place in, but because my world has Oceanside and San Diego, it is assumed that it also has New York, Chicago, DC, and if I say there’s a superhero team in most major cities, then we HAVE to believe there are heroes in all those places. A lot of times I’ll end up populating a team just for a one-off scene and I’ll end up with new characters who tend to have their own stories.

Glint is a perfect example of this. He originally existed as the team leader a city over from my lead characters who would show up when they needed support. Now he’s got his own book… maybe two?

It’s also become multi-generational as characters have families. It’s a lot more like real life than the tightly controlled systems I’ve written for single books or even a single series.

I guess that's an advantage of writing in a variation of the real world! And I have to say, I really like that you include that multi-generational element. On the flip side, what challenges have you run up against in writing such a long set of connected stories, even split up across multiple series, and how have you worked through those difficulties?

Timelines. I don’t usually keep track of these that closely. I might scribble down a few dates here and there on the notepad I keep next to my computer to keep a timeline straight for a book, but with this one, multiple books, sometimes overlapping, I’ve had to start a spreadsheet and mark down where each story takes place on it and how old the characters are.

The second is just names. I try not to reuse names, but when you’re dealing with so many minor characters sometimes it’s hard to keep track. I keep intending to go through the books and make a character list (something I’ve never had the need to do because I can easily keep a couple dozen names straight in my head) but trying to remember the characters who had one scene in book three of series two … it gets hard.

I should be easier on myself and repeat a name here and there. After all, how many people do you know with the same first or last name in real life? The Marvel universe gets away with multiple Peters and both a Stephen and a Steve. I probably could too.

Ugh, yes, timelines are stressful. Moving on, at this point, you’re a pretty well-established and well-loved author, with thirty-some published works under your belt. What advice would you give a new author just starting out on a similar journey?

You have to know what you’re doing it. There are a million different ways to be an author and if you are going indie your options are expansive. Knowing the “why” of your writing is going to influence a lot of your decisions.

If you need this to be your full-time job and be able to support yourself or potentially a family on it, you’re going to have to make different choices from someone who is comfortable doing it as a side-hustle or as an outreach or just for the love of the art.

An author who really wants to write for the love of writing and write the stories they want to write (which to an extent is me. I’ve never chosen to write super marketable or profitable subgenres. I’ve skipped from genre to genre a lot. I don’t go super hard on the business side of things because I make enough from my day job that I don’t need to push that hard on book sales.) gets advice from a super, “write to market, make a living, this is a business” type writer, they’re going to get frustrated and burned out.

That's excellent advice — arguably, good advice for life in general, not just writing. Now, time for a fun question! Which of your characters (either in A Superhero for Christmas specifically or in the SVR-verse in general) would you most want to have on your team in a Christmas-cookie-making competition?

From a personality standpoint, Lara is competitive and precise and would come into things with a plan and get things done. She’s a normie, though. No powers.

From a powers standpoint, Fleet–who is a fairly minor character from the main SVR series–is a speed sable and would probably be able to get everything done in a flash.

Both sound like good choices! To wrap up the interview, can you tell us a little about what you’re currently working on and what we can look forward to next from you?

I am in the editing stage for Captured by a Supervillain, the third book in my Supervillain Romance Project series (the romcom wing of the wider SVR universe), and was planning to write Engaged to a Supervillain (book four in that same series) next, but I’ve only written a couple of scenes and I got an idea last night for a sequel to A Superhero for Christmas, tentatively titled “A Supervillain to Have and to Hold” or “My Superhero Wedding” or something like that.

This was not planned, and I don’t like to work on multiple projects at once, so I’m now trying to choose between them.

Either way, you’re getting at least three more superhero books from me and this universe. Probably more, but we’ll see how it goes.

I am so excited for all of these! They sound great, and I'm glad that we have plenty more stories to enjoy in the SVR world. Thanks for stopping by the blog for this interview!

And that's it from me! So, are you excited for A Superhero for Christmas? If so, remember that you have one more day to preorder it on Amazon (and don't forget to add it on Goodreads too). Also, make sure you enter the giveaway! And before you go, tell me in the comments: what character from either the SVR-verse (if you know it), your own writing, or your favorite other media would you want in a cookie-making contest?
Thanks for reading!

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