It's interview time again! Today, we welcome Laura Bickle, author of the Anya Kalinczyk series to the blog! I hope you enjoy the interview and more about her books below!
1. Tell us a little bit about your book.
By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. By night, she’s the rarest kind of spiritual medium, a Lantern. While other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya devours and incinerates them. With the help of her fire salamander familiar, Sparky, and an eccentric group of ghost hunters, Anya chases down unseen threats to her city.
2. What inspired you to write this story?
I’d established a theme centering around flame…and decided to give Anya a fire salamander as a companion. Salamanders haven’t gotten much press since Paracelsus’ time. They’re the elemental avatars of fire. Our ancestors assumed that they were the spirits of fire, as they were often seen crawling out of logs tossed into hearth blazes. The salamander was probably annoyed to have his peaceful woodland home turned to tinder, and was making a fleet-footed escape. But alchemists and sorcerers made the link between salamanders and flames, and the association has endured. There’s not much to find about salamanders in the literature, beyond their origins. They’re rumored to be capricious, destructive, and unpredictable as fire itself. That made a salamander a perfect sidekick for Anya. And Sparky hopped out onto the page, wiggling his tail and looking for trouble. He takes the form of a five-foot speckled hellbender salamander. He loves chewing electronics and sleeps at the foot of Anya’s bed, cuddling his Glow Worm toy.
Wow, that was really interesting! A lesson on Salamanders :) lol @ cuddling his Glow Worm toy. I can just picture it now!
3. What is the main lesson that your book is trying to teach?
I’m not sure that there’s as much a lesson as a theme about being on the outside looking in. Anya is feared and distrusted by the people around her, an outsider among outsiders. She’s got one foot in the material world and one foot outside of it. She doesn’t feel like she really belongs in either.
4. Moving on to your writing career, how long have you been writing? Did you always dream to become an author?
I’ve always been scribbling, since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I didn’t believe, until recently, that other people would want to read what I wrote. It’s incredibly exciting to hear from folks who’ve enjoyed the stories I tell.
Writing as Laura Bickle and Alayna Williams, I wrote four urban fantasies. Two are best summed up as “Ghostbusters in Detroit with dragons and arson” (EMBERS and SPARKS). The other two, DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE, are about a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes.
5. I’m always curious whether or not authors read the same types of books that they write. So tell us, what book genres do you love to read? to write?
I love fantasy, urban fantasy, and YA. If there’s an element of the fantastic, I’m hooked!
6. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Cat Winters’ IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS. It’s amazing!
7. Have any particular authors inspired you to write? If so, can you name one and what you like about their style?
My all-time favorite is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. I read it when I was a pre-teen, and fell in love with fantasy ever after. It was the first book I’d read that had a female protagonist who slew her own dragons. I was hooked.
8. Do you have any upcoming projects?
My newest release is THE HALLOWED ONES, a YA thriller. Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the outside world. But the outside world comes to her when a helicopter falls out of the sky near her house. Katie must confront not only a massive disaster unfolding in the world outside her community, but also the threat of darkness in her own increasingly fragile society. The sequel, THE OUTSIDE, will be released in September.
Thanks so much for stopping by today Laura!! I enjoyed chatting with you!!
And now, more about Embers & Sparks!
Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
“One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give.”
—Elizabeth Bear on Tor.com
“Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.”
—M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels
“Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!”
—Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade
Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.
Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.
Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.
Read an excerpt at http://books.simonandschuster.com/Embers/Laura-Bickle/9781439167656/excerpt
Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
The second book in Bickle’s series about Anya Kalinczyk is just as wonderful as the first—Anya is a compelling and likable protagonist and Bickle does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the city of Detroit; there are ruins, yes, but also hope in the ashes. Anya never takes herself too seriously and there is a scene in a baby supercenter that is absolutely not to be missed. (4 stars)
- RT Book Reviews
...a charming and inventive read.
-Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, December 2010
WITHOUT A TRACE...
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.
After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.
Read an excerpt at http://books.simonandschuster.com/Sparks/Laura-Bickle/9781439167687/excerpt
About the Author :
Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.
Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.
More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
She’s also at Facebook