EEK!! I'm so stoked to welcome H.L. Burke to the blog today in celebration of her new release, Heart of the Curiosity! Scroll down to find out how discovering your purpose plays into this epic story as well as her own life.
“Because a person’s knack says something about them. Muse's means she's graceful and lighthearted. Yours means your dependable and smart. Emilia's means she's shrewd and perceptive. Reid ... well, he really likes books. Mine is only good for tricking and manipulating people, for making them do or think things they wouldn’t have otherwise.” Shame flared within her, warming her cheeks. “How can a person with that sort of knack be good enough for anyone, let alone you?”
In the world of Heart of the Curiosity, everyone has magic, but not big flashy “fireball and frostbolt” magic. They’re tiny little individualized magical abilities called “knacks.” Some knacks are more common than others (strength knacks that make an individual be able to lift slightly more than they would’ve been able to otherwise are decently common.), but all tie into the individual’s purpose in life.
A dancer might have a balance or agility knack. A librarian or bookseller might have an ability to mend ripped pages. A casting director could have the ability to discern the knacks of others and therefore know how best to use them in their shows.
However some people have knacks that push them into vocations they don’t like … or may even find morally repulsive.
The main character of Heart of the Curiosity, Leo, has a knack that allows her to manipulate the emotions of others, and she’s never been able to figure out how to use it in a way that doesn’t feel, if not downright evil, at least morally ambiguous. Always a pragmatist, she tries to use a bad thing to do good, at least to the extent that she uses it to protect herself and her little sister and ensure them a better life, but ends up working as a professional audience member, also known as a claqueur. Her job is to sway the audience at The Curiosity theater to have a good impression of the show and so she can drum up excitement and ticket sales.
Leo doesn’t like this much. She’d just as soon forget that she has this ability and never use it again … unfortunately life keeps throwing situations in her way that make using her knack the expedient thing to do if she wants to stay alive and keep her sister safe.
Similarly, her best friend, Paxton, regrets that his knack isn’t “enough.” A gifted mechanic, Paxton can tell exactly how a machine is broken at a glance. It’s a handy skill which he uses to keep equipment running around his family’s theater. However, Paxton comes from a long line of people with the “inventor” knack, the ability to think up and construct improbable and creative machines which the theater uses in their elaborate shows. When the inventor knack skipped over him, his family was left without an acting propmaster. Paxton bends and twists himself trying to make do in the position with his simple mechanic’s knack, but constantly feels like he’s letting down his family legacy.
Both Paxton and Leo want to be more than their knacks have said they are but, in a world where people are defined by their magical abilities, feel stuck in their paths.
Finding out what one is good at, figuring out what we’re meant to do, is a huge part of growing up, and some of us take longer to stumble onto it than others. I was lucky to figure out early that I wanted to be a story teller/writer, but it took a while for me to learn how to forge that path. It’s interesting now for me to watch my own daughters decide what they want to do (The seven-year-old wants to be a Youtuber … or work at Wendy’s so she can eat all the fries. She goes back and forth) and figure out what they’re good at. It’s something we all have to go through, finding why we’ve been put on this earth … and with or without magic, it can be both a struggle and an adventure.
To find out if Leo and Paxton find theirs, you’ll have to read Heart of the Curiosity. ;)
The secret lies with the Heart.
Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora's only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd's mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.
Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity's sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater's stagemistress, is the key to finding it.
While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.
Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from 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.
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