Friday, October 23, 2015


My guest today is the lovely and talented E. E. Burke. She graciously consented to let me grill…I mean interview her. Here’s the interview.

E. E. Burke, Author

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about yourself.  

EE: I was born in a rural lake town in Florida, Pahokee, which in the Seminole language means, Grassy Waters. It wasn’t a swamp, but close enough to the Everglades to qualify. We moved to the Florida coast when I was ten and I became a beach bum. My youth was spent outside playing games and pretending (stories we make up). I did participate in sports, but I wasn’t what you’d consider a jock. I loved to read and when I was in fourth grade I set a goal for myself to read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book in the library. I met my goal…but I don’t think that little local library had very many books in the series. I also loved books about horses, Black Beauty being my favorite. I had a major crush on Tom Sawyer and daydreamed about rafting down a big river with Huck Finn.

After a college foray through Texas and another nine years in the Lone Star State, I moved to Missouri, met my husband and finally ended up in Kansas City. Sometimes people ask if I miss Florida. Nope. Love to visit, wouldn’t want to live there again. Too crowded. Plus, I love the seasons and I’d miss seeing nature put on a show.

Family stuff. I’m married, 30 years to the same man, and we have three wonderful daughters, 15, 26 and 28. One married, but the only grandchildren at the moment are the four-legged variety. I grew up with a younger brother, who I bossed around, as is the right of the big sister.

Caroline: I also have a younger brother. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

EE: Favorite genre is historical anything. I love history, even textbooks. As far as favorite authors, don’t get me started. There are WAY too many to name here. I enjoy so many I hate limiting it to a list. But if you insist, I’ll give you a few longtime favorites: LaVyrle Spencer, Jill Marie Landis, Teresa Medeiros, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Lisa Kleypas, Francine Rivers (take a deep breath). Another author whose sagas I adore is Rosanne Bittner, and this year she released a sequel to her classic, Outlaw Hearts--after 20 years! Isn’t that awesome! A whole new generation will fall in love with her outlaw, and rediscover a wonderful romance writer. Several books I’ll highlight as favorites: True Grit (Charles Portis), Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtrey), Enemy Women (Paulette Jiles), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), North and South (John Jakes), Anne LaMott’s memoirs (oh my can she write!). And if you want to know some of my current favorites, check out Get Lost in a Story every Tuesday for my Best of the West guests!

Caroline: You named some of my favorites. I was able to hear Anne Lamont speak last year in Fort Worth. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

EE: Traveling is how I relax most. Even if it’s just a day trip to do research, I find going places and exploring both relaxing and rejuvenating. Prowling around art museums and galleries is one of my favorite things to do. Hobbies…hmmm…does making fancy martinis count? I enjoy cooking and experimenting with food, but I wouldn’t say it’s a hobby.

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

EE: I’ll quote one of my favorite authors and my personal muse, Mr. Twain.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Caroline: I’ve collected many of his quotes and that’s my favorite. How long have you been writing?

EE: Eight years ago, I jumped ship on a marketing career to pursue what I believe I was created to do--tell stories. I have not looked back once.

Caroline: Obviously, you are gifted at writing and I’m glad you chose to pursue your stories. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

EE: I have a home office and write there most of the time. When the weather is nice, I’ll sit out on the screened in porch and write. I love listening to the birds and natural sounds as background. I also listen to period music.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

EE: Both. I always attempt to outline a story and develop key turning points, but once I start writing, everything changes.

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

EE: Both. My Steam! Romance and Rails series is set against actual historical events during the expansion of the railroad across America. Several years ago, I got hooked on AMC’s television series, “Hell On Wheels,” which follows the transcontinental railroad story. At the time I was working on a Western historical romance based on a railroad race, and it struck me that a railroad story would make a great romance series.

Being a history geek, I dove eagerly into research to find inspiration for my series. I enjoy weaving real events and people into my stories, so that readers will feel they've been transported back in time and are reliving history. I enjoy putting historic characters into my books. (Her Bodyguard is populated with many "real" people.) They aren't usually the main character, with the exception of one. In A Dangerous Passion, the hero, Henry Stevens, is loosely drawn from the first general manager of the Katy Railroad, Robert S. Stevens. Described as a man with "dark flashing eyes and a meticulous style of dress," he was a larger-than-life persona in the history of this legendary railroad and he provided a perfect blueprint for a romance hero.

Caroline:  Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

EE: I write every day, sometimes I set word count goals, other times I just sit and write until I can’t write anymore.

Caroline: I’m familiar with the “write until I can’t write anymore” method, which reminds me of a cousin who worked land “from can to can’t”. ☺ What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

EE: Discovery. Whether it’s learning something new. Discovering something about other people or themselves. Or finding the happy ending we all long to experience.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

EE: Write until I fall over dead.

Caroline: Yes! And die sitting at my computer. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

EE: Two projects: one is a secret and I can’t tell you, but it involves 45 authors who will be making publishing history. Look for an announcement on Nov. 1. I’m also researching the next book in my railroad series.

Caroline: I’m in that same secret project and eagerly anticipate the November 1 announcement. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

EE: Plant your butt in a chair and write.

Caroline: Truth!  Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

EE: I was a disc jockey at a Top-40 radio station during college

Caroline: That is a fun fact. Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

EE: Gosh, I must be a boring person because nothing I do would shock anyone.

Caroline: I know your book is a series, can you tell us about it?

My current release, Fugitive Hearts is part of the series Steam! Romance and Rails.

Caroline: Would you give readers a blurb about your book?

EE: Of course.

“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”

Hotel owner Claire Daines is a respected member of the community. Until she shocks the entire town by rushing into a saloon wearing only her nightclothes and confessing to very inebriated lawman.

Is she a killer? Is she crazy? Or is she covering up something worse?

For years, Claire hushed up her husband’s dangerous condition to guard his reputation. When tragedy strikes, she puts her own life at risk when she vows to keep another terrible secret.

Sheriff Frank Garrity must get to the truth, although the tough, hard-drinking lawman hides his own secrets and would rather walk a lonely path than face his demons. But as Frank unravels Claire’s subterfuge and unlocks her heart, he’s torn between his desire to save her and his duty to bring her to justice.

Caroline: Wow, that certainly intrigued me. How about an excerpt?

EE: Certainly.

Parsons, Kansas, March 3, 1874

“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”
Her honeyed voice sounded familiar, but what she said sounded like pure nonsense. That or he’d misunderstood.
Frank Garrity raised his head from where he’d laid it on his arms after he got tired of holding it up. He dragged open eyelids as heavy as wet canvas and squinted at a fuzzy feminine image clothed in pure white.
God above. An angel.
He tried breathing. The smell of cheap cigars and even cheaper whiskey convinced him he was still in the saloon, therefore amongst the living, which meant he’d slipped into another drunken delusion. He only thought he saw an angel standing there, confessing murder.
This specter looked more substantial and far more pleasurable than the others that haunted his dreams. A wealth of dark hair cascaded over her shoulders, past the point where the scarred tabletop concealed her lower half, keeping the rest of her a tantalizing secret. If inebriation brought on angelic visions like this one, he’d have another drink.
He curled his hand around an empty whiskey bottle, but couldn’t recall finishing it. Regret flickered. Normally, he didn’t drink this much. Only on days when guilt overcame his good sense and there was no other way to obliterate the pain. God might’ve sent an angel to warn him not to overindulge.
“Did you hear me?” The angel’s dulcet voice wavered. “I killed Frederick.”
“Who?” Frank blinked, bleary eyed and confused. The only Frederick he knew lived next door with his wife. Claire.
The whiskey-drenched fog cleared. So did his vision. Frank jerked his attention to her face and shock struck him square in the chest.
No angel. It was the owner of the hotel, Mrs. Daines. He hadn’t recognized her right off because she didn’t have on a dress.
He closed his eyes and then opened them to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. Nope, still there, in her nightgown and wrap, although the proper lady he knew wouldn’t be caught dead in a saloon, much less looking like she’d just crawled out of bed.
Her hair hung loose, in disarray. Her face had an unhealthy flush and she had a wild look in her eyes. She thrust her arms out at him, turning up delicate wrists, pale and blue-veined. Her slender fingers curled inward as if cradling something fragile. “I-I’m turning myself in.”
Surely, the poor woman’s mind had snapped.
Frank came to his feet so fast his chair flew back. It clattered to the floor, all the louder because the noise broke a hushed silence that had fallen over the crowded barroom. No tinkling piano, no clinking glasses, no catcalls, not even a giggle from the scantily clad serving girl a few feet away, wide-eyed and stock-still.
He stumbled against the table as he wheeled around to where the crazy woman stood, holding her arms out in that ridiculous position like she expected him to slap manacles on her. Determined to get her home before the whole damn town saw her in her unmentionables, he stripped off his heavy overcoat—which he’d kept on because the thin walls didn’t stand a chance against the freezing temperatures—and flung it around her shoulders, hauled her up against him and made for the door in as close to a beeline as he could manage.
Not too roostered. He hadn’t fallen over and only weaved slightly.
The next instant, her arm slipped around his waist to steady him.
“Dang it, woman, let me do the rescuing.”

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?  

Amazon - as well as other major online retailers

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

EE: From these links:

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

EE: I’m a contributor to the romance blog Get Lost in a Story, and I feature new finds in historical romance. My “Best of the West” series of interviews features authors who write American historical romance. Over the past four years, I’ve discovered some great new (or new to me) books and authors. I’d love for readers to come by and check us out. You might find your next good read!

Caroline: Thank you for sharing with us today. Best wishes for continued success in your writing career.


Lisa Clements said...

I count E E Burke as one of my best friends. She is an incredible storyteller. Please take some time to read her books and get to know this amazing woman through her stories.

Page By Page Inside-Out Reviews said...

A disc jockey wow I learn something new everyday.No wonder you do so well when you speak. I love Get Lost In A Story blog there is always such wonderful inteviews.

E E Buke's is one of my favorite authors. I love how she puts few history in her stories. You get entertained and learn at the same time.

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