A young woman, running through the woods, being hunted by horrific, evil beasts. That’s what author Heather Burch drops readers in the middle of in her new novel Halflings – and the action just ramps up from there. Halflings is a lot of things, but what it isn’t is your average, run of the mill, YA novel.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN HALFLINGS?
I absolutely LOVE the misfit superhero idea! I knew some day I wanted to write a story about characters with supernatural abilities. Also, I think love triangles are fabulous to explore because it causes the characters to have to dig deeper into who they are and what they really want. I’m an X-Men fan, so I wanted something with a lot of action in it. But I didn’t have any plans to write this kind of story now. It was what Donald Maass calls a “Breakout Novel” and I thought I’d work on it for years. Well, God kicked me into high gear and I wrote book one in four months. It just poured out of me. Plus, I knew the multi-book story arc. Honestly, I didn’t know if anyone would like it. It was odd and different and certainly not what we were seeing on the shelves at the time I wrote it. Now there are some similar books beginning to be released. It’s so weird how that happens. Ideas are like rain. They fall from the sky and whoever happens to be looking up can grab them. I happened to be looking up that day.
Since Halflings is a multi-book series, there’s been a lot of time for this journey. But the thing that continues to surprise and thrill me most is the reaction people are having. I’m so honored that a book I wrote has had such a far reach. It’s overwhelming to me. And quite humbling. Zondervan, my publisher, has been amazing and surrounded me with a team that would be every author’s dream. They are filled with ideas and excitement. And again, that’s a sobering thing because many of their ideas are things I prayed for, but never actually expected to see. (I know, where was my faith?) I dreamed of a Halflings Network, a video game, and these are things they planned to do without me ever mentioning it. God put us all on the same page. He’s cool that way.
WHAT PARTS OF THE STORY WERE INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE?
I’d have to say the two main male characters. Mace and Raven are carbon copies of my two boys. One’s an athlete, one’s a musician. I have a dreamer and a realist. And they are best friends.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT STORY IS SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
Story is so powerful because it allows us to experience and yet process as we experience. That’s something real life rarely allows. We are looking at a scenario through not just our set of eyes, but through a character, a narrator … We can take the time to think, weigh it against our experience, find the truth within it, and possibly even make us question and dig deeper into what we know.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THAT READERS GET OUT OF YOUR WORK?
God has made it clear to me that I have an obligation to my readers to tell a great story. When I write, I don’t sit down with an idea of what I want readers to walk away with. I write. Who I am, what I believe comes out on the page, but in an organic way. If my writing causes people to dig deeper into the Word, that’s a huge bonus. God may have a different message for every reader who picks up my story. I’d go mad if I tried to make sure I got all of that in. I rely on Him to give me the words as I’m writing. And I rely on Him to get the message to whoever He chooses. I can say, I tend to write stories that deal with sacrifice. If a person can see the value in making sacrifices for others because of something I wrote, that’s pretty cool.