Today I have one of my favorite Indie authors here with us to talk about her newest release, Heart of the Curiosity. If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you’ll already know that her book Spice Bringer was my favorite read from last year. I am yet to read a book by Ms. Burke that I haven’t loved. First, let’s here a little bit about the book, and then we’ll hear from H. L. Burke about the unique world building in her story.
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.
You can find Heart of the Curiosity at the following locations:
Now for a little world-building from H. L. Burke!
The entirety of Heart of the Curiosity takes place in the single city of Verisia, and most of it within the labyrinthian passages of the theater mentioned in the title The Curiosity. This isn’t the first time I’ve restricted my characters to a tiny playing field. I guess I just like bottle episodes or something (I blame Community.). Versia is a vibrant city full of fountains, statues, theaters, and steampunk delights. Shops often have automaton greeters who make sure every customer is welcomed and informed of sales and specials. Buskers inhabit every corner, from living statues to five piece ensembles. Two legged-mechanical rickshaws (coin operated) have stations around the city so you can rent them at leisure for a ride from location to location.
But at the heart of it all (har har, because the title is … nevermind) is The Curiosity, a grand old theater with a flashing marquee that has stood for five generations providing the premier entertainment experience of Versia.
The Curiosity has gone through multiple alterations during its lifespan–expanding, having passages rerouted, rooms walled off, other walls broken down–and now the inside is a mess of trap doors and circuitous hallways. Some of these are accessed by secret panels and coded locks. None of it is written down, and it can take years to learn (the staff still jokes about the stagehand who got lost on his first day of work and spent three days wandering in circles between proprooms before someone stumbled onto him).
Of course, if you are an audience member, you should have no reason to stray into these less navigable areas.
No. Once you step under the flashing blue and white lights of the marquee and past the automated ticket-vendor, you will find yourself in a warmly lit lobby with crimson carpet and polished wood panels carved with intricate representations of the theater’s storied past. If there is a performance that night but it hasn’t started yet, the large double doors will be open to let you into the auditorium. Rows of seats flow downward towards a massive stage illuminated by more lights than you can imagine (The Curiosity was the first theater in Versia to make use of electric lighting).
When the doors close and the aisle lights dim, the stage will come alive with dancers and automatons. Mechanical monsters and clockwork wonders interact with human performers to tell stories and amaze the audience. There’s nothing quite like a show at The Curiosity.
So if you’re in Versia for any reason (perhaps to purchase some buttons. We also have the Republic’s largest button factory. That’s a thing.), stop by, take in a show, but don’t wander backstage. You don’t want to get lost.
~ 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.
You can connect with H. L. Burke here: