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I don't just read a book; I "crawl" right into one.
I read, I devour, and I consume every last word until the story is running like a movie through my brain!

11/4/11

Interview w/ Laura Bickle "Anya Kalinczyk" Series

Welcome to the BookShelf, Laura! thanks so much for taking some time out of your schedule to answer a few questions for us!

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a bit of an odd duck. My background is in information technology, criminology, and library science. I live in the Midwest, where my husband and I are owned by five semi-reformed feral cats. My hobbies include astronomy and belly dancing...I do neither one well, but I enjoy them.
What inspired you to become an author?
I've always been intrigued by the idea of a hidden supernatural world existing beneath our own. Fantasy allows me to explore the "what if's." I can allow the story to unfold and let it be unpredictable as it develops. It's like daydreaming on paper.
Can you give us a “non-spoilery” description of Embers & Sparks?
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. EMBERS is her first adventure. 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.

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. In SPARKS, 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.
Did anyone specific inspire your main character?
Anya's the rarest type of spiritual medium - a Lantern. Where other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya incinerates malicious ghosts. She’s an outsider among outsiders. She’s got one foot in the material world, and one foot outside of it.

Anya is an interesting heroine in that she doesn't charge into the hero's journey with guns blazing.  She's very much a reluctant heroine in the hero's journey tradition - she has to be dragged down the road.  She's the only person who can do what she does in terms of exorcising ghosts - and that's a very difficult power. It has a severe personal cost, and she's had to insulate herself from the world a great deal. The use of magic has a price, and she's well aware that it can kill her and hurt those around her.
How did you get the idea for your Anya Kalinczyk series?
My husband is from Detroit, and it was wonderful to have him play tour guide for me. Detroit has some very magical places that are easily reimagined into landscapes for a book, like the pieces of the Ishtar Gate at the Detroit Institute of Arts. And the Detroit Salt Mine, which stretches beneath the city. It became the perfect place for a dragon's lair.
I seem to recall a “little critter” mentioned a few times during other blog appearances. Care to share some tasty tidbits about Sparky?
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 are the elemental avatars of fire. Our ancestors assumed that they were the spirit 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 devouring electronics and sleeps at the foot of Anya's bed, cuddling his Glow Worm toy.
How do you keep track of your world building?
I keep a collection of notebooks - not very high-tech, I know! They get marked up and ratty by the end of a story, but they're full of notes, pasted pictures, drawings, and articles I've clipped. Each book gets its own notebook.
What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of writing?
The beginning is the most intimidating part of a book for me to write. The blank page is a scary place, full of doubts. Procrastination is my greatest enemy at that stage.

The easiest part for me is the last quarter of the book. Then, I can see how all the factors come into play and the plot threads begin to tie up. It's sort of like running downhill - exhilarating and exciting.
Can you please share with us how old you were when you wrote your first story?
I think I've always been scribbling. My mom tells me that I had quite a series of adventures about the family dogs in crayon when I was five.
Besides being a writer, what other types of jobs have you held?
I worked in criminal justice for more than ten years, and recently made the switch to working in a public library. Being surrounded by books and chasing down the answers to research questions is a special kind of bliss. 
What are some of your favorite literary works?
I've always loved Robin McKinley's THE HERO AND THE CROWN and THE BLUE SWORD. They were the first fantasy novels I'd read in which the heroine slew her own dragons, and I was hooked on the genre from then on.
Who’s your favorite author?
I enjoy all flavors of fantasy. Some of my all-time favorites are: Robin McKinley, Ann Aguirre, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia McKillip, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jessa Slade, and M.L.N. Hanover.
Please share with us what can we expect from you next? Will there be a sequel?
I've got a couple of new things in the works. I can't say much about them, except to say that there will be more things that go bump in the night. I've always loved supernatural stories, and am scribbling furiously to keep up with ideas.
Do you have any upcoming appearances? If so where can our readers find you?
I'll be attending RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago in April and am very excited to participate in a reader party called "The Good, the Bad, the Sidekick." My co-hosts will be Marcella Burnard and Jeffe Kennedy.
Anything else you would like to share?
I'm always thrilled when folks pick up my books. I love to hear from readers, and I can be found in the following places:

Website:  http://www.salamanderstales.com/

Blog: http://salamanderstales.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurabickle

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle

Thanks so much for hosting me today!
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Thanks again, Laura! You've shared some wonderful insight and 
I enjoyed learning more about your Anya Kalinczyk series! 

Now readers, shall we get the nitty gritty on Embers & Sparks?

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Embers, Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010

“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.


Sparks, Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
ISBN 978-1439167687
September 2010

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.

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Author Bio
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
http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com and http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com

She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

Let's recap that linkage for Laura!

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter



Word-Whores


Laura Bickle is a PR Client of the lovely Roxanne Rhoads over at:



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Reviews are written on a volunteer basis and are only the opinions of the individual review author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or views of the author, publisher, or public readers in general Copyright © YzhaBella's BookShelf 2010-11

5 comments:

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

YzhaBella's BookShelf said...

It's most definitely my pleasure Laura! Thanks for stopping by!

LoriStrongin said...

These look like AWESOME reads! I love the tie in of the supernatural element with arsonists. I'm a true crime buff, and serial arsonists are some of the creepiest folks out there. I'm looking forward to seeing how Laura works that into her novel!


Smiles!
Lori

YzhaBella's BookShelf said...

Thanks for stopping by Lori! I an totally intrigued by Laura's stories! I especially want to read about Sparky! He sounds like a hoot!

Diana (@Offbeat Vagabond) said...

Amazing interview. I have heard such great things about this series, it is crazy. I love your covers. It is amazing that your husband's hometown was your inspiration for the world of your book. Detroit os very new to me, so i can't wait to dive into this world. I am so with you, procrastination is the enemy LOL! Great interview hon, thank you :)

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