Featured Friday! J.S. Burke
J. S. Burke is an author, artist, and scientist. She’s worked as a marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. Her stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences. She lives in Georgia with her family, rescue companions, and dragons!
The award-winning Dragon Dreamer series grew from her years at sea, a fascination with the alien, intelligent octopuses, and a love of dragons. Her dragon and octopus friends all love chocolate.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
First, thank you Pete for inviting me to be part of your blog! I enjoy meeting other writers and readers, living in my own world while I describe this, and researching details. I love writing from the point of view of a dragon or an octopus.
What made you start writing?
A story grew in my mind, so I wrote it down. Then I learned how to properly write a novel by studying books I enjoy. “The Dragon Dreamer” by J.S. Burke is my first book, with dragons and an undersea world. I’ve worked as a marine biologist, so the sea flows into the stories. “Dragon Lightning” is a stand-alone sequels and I’m writing two more. I drew the fantasy snowflakes that my dragons grow. Then I made “Fantasy Snowflakes Coloring Book”.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
Every author inspires me. Now that I have my own books, I’m even more impressed by anyone who finishes writing a book!
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Get started. Most drafts need considerable work, and that’s OK. Revise and polish until it shines.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I read many genres, including SciFi, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Science, and Thrillers. I write science-based fantasy (Science Fantasy) with a bit of other genres, including adventure stories and a touch of romance.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Choosing just one is a challenge. As I get to know my characters, I know what they’ll do and say, and I want to spend more time with them. I’d love to fly with dragons Arak or Drakor in the wind-stream, above the colour-changing clouds. Spending time with the shape-shifter octopus Scree would give me more time in the sea, which I love. Scree is a Healer, fighter, and a philosopher.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
For sheer usefulness, the suggestions in “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” help improve almost any interaction, regardless of age and in any profession. “1984” is a powerful story with a warning for all. For Science Fiction, “Dune” is a fascinating world. “The Velveteen Rabbit” is a timeless book with deeper meaning.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I deleted the point-of-view of Arak’s mom, Arafine, in “The Dragon Dreamer” to make the book stronger. I rewrote from Arak’s POV, to show his emotions and the danger he faces. But this also removed one of my best bits of writing, with a mother’s love.
Heroes are often orphans, which helps make them sympathetic characters. In real life, most people are not orphaned, and there are still plenty of problems and angst. I wanted more realism within my fantasy world, and I wanted the experiences to be relatable.
My main dragon character has two loving parents. He feels overshadowed by their talent, burdened with a secret gift, bullied by another young dragon. Arak wants to prove himself. He leaves, crashes at sea, and makes a friend who changes his life, and their world.
I added this deleted scene to my blog: “A DRAGON’S LOVE“. Here’s an excerpt:
“Arafine stood alone on the dragon shore, staring out to sea, rustling her golden wings. Fading light slid down golden scales, and water-slicked sand gleamed like polished copper in the sunset. She flicked her long tail nervously as the sun sank, as another day of hope died.
Arafine’s eyes felt like dry holes in her head as she searched the sky for her lost son, trying to peer beyond the horizon where Arak had disappeared on his journey. Why had he headed out to sea? Was he still alive? Cold waves crashed over her clawed feet and ran back into the sea. After dragon-weeks of searching, her heart felt colder than the waves. Stray memories of Arak surfaced in her mind, coupled with desperate, uncertain loss. . .”
DELETED SCENE: http://www.jennysburke.com/blog/story-hop-a-dragons-love
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I would live in my Dragon Dreamer world with my characters. I enjoy their company. I wrote this book as my personal escape world, not even sure I would ever share it beyond my friends. Now I have reviews from readers who write that they enjoy their vacation here, far from the daily stresses.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
That’s an interesting question. There are so many impressive writers! I suppose I’d want anyone who had an interest in writing my biography. The Dragon Dreamer books are somewhat autobiographical, since I give my experiences to my characters: a sea storm I barely survived, water spouts I dodged, diving on coral reefs, crawling through dangerous water-filled tunnels in a cave, and much more.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
The readers who buy my sequels like what I write. There’s a bigger audience for other genres, but I enjoy writing Science Fantasy that’s family friendly, for young adults 9 to 99.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
Everyone sees the world through a different filter, so reviews will vary. Naturally, I enjoy the good reviews more. I looked up the ratings on Goodreads for books I consider to be well written. “Harry Potter” has 93,000 one-star ratings! And nine movies. “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” won a Newberry Award and has more than 2,000 one-star ratings.
No book will satisfy every reader. So I think, “To thine own self be true” (Hamlet). Write what you enjoy. The Dragon Dreamer books have won awards for Best First Novel, Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, Fantasy, and Young Adult. I’ve been contacted through my website by readers who enjoy my books, which helps justify all the work that goes into a book. Write well, get feedback, and then listen to your instincts. Write what you want to read.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
I love friends, family, books, and writing my own worlds.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I’m writing the third and fourth Dragon Dreamer books at the same time! Drakor is facing new dangers and rebellion in the new world (book 3). There are new dragon characters in book 4.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
Scree says, “What will be, will be. And then I’ll fix it.” I like this spirit of not giving up.
Love the questions! Thank you so much, Pete, for inviting me to be here!
And thank you Jenny, for answering our questions!
If you want to know more about JS Burke and her Dragon Dreamer series, check out the links below for more information.