H. L. Burke
Title of book:
Cora and the Nurse Dragon
Brief summary of the story:
Cora’s a young girl who dreams of being a dragon jockey but whose father disapproves of dragons being kept in captivity. She struggles to balance her father’s beliefs with her own passions. When she gets a hold of a dragon egg that hatches into the nurse dragon, Cricket, though, she learns a lot about dragons, her father, and sacrifice.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The world is an alternate version of ours, and Farrington would be a typical American town, except with a technology level of about 1920 … and dragons. The kids use 20’s slang. The people wear 20’s fashion. They have automobiles and the wealthier families have electric lights and telephones … but instead of horses or greyhounds, people race dragons, kids keep small dragons instead of goldfish and slightly larger ones instead of cats.
If we were to visit Farrington as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
I’d definitely take in a dragon race. They’re exciting, and the popcorn at the stadium is decent. A dozen snake-like dragons with wings moving faster than the eye can see, racing around the track, snapping at each other’s tails, leapfrogging over each others heads … nothing like a dragon race.
What dangers should we avoid in Farrington?
While the races are exciting, the gambling feeds a criminal element. Seedier neighborhoods host gangsters, off-track betting, and even dragon smuggling.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Farrington that we don’t see on Earth?
Obviously, dragons. The dragons come in multiple sizes and colors. The most common are the mayflies, short-lived dragons that kids hatch from eggs and raise in glass tanks until they die of old age, usually within two months. Luckier kids get cat-sized dragons, the most common of which are steamers (blue dragons who breathe water vapor), strikers (red dragons who breathe fire), and sparkers (yellow/gold dragons who breathe electric sparks). Then of course you have the racers, about the same size as horses, long, elegant, and fast.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Farrington? Please describe what it involves.
Since it is an alternate Earth with basically the same history, my characters do practice Christianity. Cora’s best friend is a preacher’s daughter and that has some influence on her as she makes decisions about whether or not to follow laws she believes to be unjust.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
When I was a kid, pizza parlors had vending machines where you’d get plastic eggs with prizes inside for a quarter. The displays on these machines promised all sorts of shiny goodies, but I’d never get what I wanted, always something disposable instead. I used that as an influence, in the idea of kids buying dragon eggs in hope of getting a pet, but instead only getting short-lived dragons that would die just as they were becoming fond of them.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
To some extent, Cora’s dad has a controversial parenting style. Cora is basically allowed to do what she wants, and while he sets some boundaries—not allowing her to drop out of school—he refuses to force his moral compass on his daughter. She makes choices he doesn’t approve of, in choosing to raise dragon eggs and in idolizing the dragon jockeys, but he lets her make them and only provides guidance. It’s not a parenting style that would work for all families or situations, but Mr. Harrison is a character I very much respect. One beta reader compared the relationship between him and Cora to Atticus and Scout, and while I don’t think it is quite at that level, I love that I got compared to a story as timeless as To Kill a Mockingbird, at least in a small way.
Also, there are some thoughts about disobeying unjust laws and defying societal expectations to do what’s right, though they are approached in terms of fantasy situations.
An avid reader and self-proclaimed “geek princess,” H. L. Burke has been obsessed with the fantastic all her life. Now a mom of two girls and the wife of a handsome US Marine, she seeks out wonder wherever she can find it.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?
The book is available through Amazon.com and kindle unlimited as an ebook (pre-order until January 31st) and available soon as a paperback through all major book sellers mybook.to/nursedragon
Where can readers connect with you online?