A couple weeks ago I had the great pleasure of reading the book Embers by Laura Bickle for Bewitching Blog Tours. You can see my review HERE. Also in the next couple weeks I will read the sequel, Sparks. I can't wait! In the meantime, I was able to interview the author, Laura Bickle about her books, career, and Detroit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed getting to know Laura!
Sparky the fire salamander from EMBERS and SPARKS has his own Twitter account, here: @SparkySalamandr
Hi Laura! So glad to see you today!
Thanks so much for hosting me! I'm very excited to meet you and your readers.
Your books, Embers and Sparks, both take place in Detroit. I am so excited about this since I live in the area, and don’t get to see it too often in books. Why did you pick Detroit as the setting for Anya Kalinczyk?
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. And the Detroit Salt Mine, which stretches beneath the city. It became the perfect place for a dragon's lair. Michigan Central Station became a way station for ghosts moving into the afterlife.
So Laura, your husband is from the Detroit area, and you are from Ohio… I’ll skip the question about rivals, and ask if you have a favorite place to visit in Michigan?
Ha. Yes, he went to Michigan and I went to Ohio State. Fortunately, I'm not big into football, so there is no internal household rivalry. ;-)
The place I loved most was the Detroit Institute of Arts. I saw the pieces of the Ishtar Gate on display there, and worked that into the mythology of EMBERS. Anya became an avatar of Ishtar, and I had her return to visit the museum ghosts in SPARKS.
You write about Detroit beautifully, when its not especially a favorite destination among travelers. Is there something you would like your readers to take away from your books regarding this city?
Thank you! I want readers to know that there is incredible beauty, power, and magic in the city. Everywhere I looked, I found a story. There's so much history - from speakeasies to the churches - and I wanted to explore that for the reader.
I see you have a wide range of studies, from criminology to politics to even library science and IT. How did these fields help you write the Anya Kalinczyk books?
I spent around ten years working in and around criminal justice, so I wanted to accurately get the feel of a criminal investigation in the book. I did a lot of research in arson investigation, which is far afield of my own personal experience. That's where working in a library comes in - I love the research aspect of writing a story. I think it's important to get those small details right, to make the story seem 'real.'
I’ve learned you are also interested in Tarot. What about Tarot draws you to it?
I've puttered around with Tarot since I was a teenager. I love the images, and the cards make great story prompts.
Under my Alayna Williams pseudonym, I'm the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE, which follow the adventures of Tara Sheridan, a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. That was a wonderful opportunity to play with cards in a story.
Ok, now in Embers, the male protagonist is Drake Ferrer. I really felt he was such an interesting character with a rich history. How did he come to be, and is he based on anyone in particular?
He's not based on a real person, but he represents disillusionment. He embodies a desire to burn out the old and build something new. In that respect, he's quite ruthless.
I also wanted him to have a tie to Anya. He's the only other person Anya's met who can devour ghosts like she can. And he understands the dark side of that power. Anya is forever having to hide her destructive instincts from the rest of her ghost-hunting allies. I wanted her to meet someone who understood her fully.
Ok Laura, time for some easier questions! Your main character Anya lives in Hamtramck, which is known to be like a little Poland in Michigan… do you like pierogis, and what’s your favorite flavor?
Oh, NOM. I've never had a bad pierogi, but my favorites are cheese and potato. I once had one with cheese AND bacon that made me swoon.
And since I must obviously be hungry, whats your go-to dessert if calories are only a figment of our imagination?
Anything chocolate. And I deliberately choose to ignore calorie counts for chocolate.
I really loved CONSTANTINE. I thought it was a great story, one I remember from back in the days when I collected comic books.
And are you a winter or summer lady?
Summer! I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I set up an inflatable kiddie pool in the backyard to splash around in during the summer. It's the Budget Jacuzzi. It actually attracted a pair of mallards last summer. I went outside with my towel and flip flops, and there were two ducks paddling on the surface of the water, looking at me with an expression of: "Yeah, so?"
And lastly, is there anything you would like to tell the readers today? (your books, yourself, society, outer space?)
If readers are curious about my books, I love to hear from them! My website is www.salamanderstales.com. I also keep a blog at http://salamanderstales.blogspot.com/ , and I tweet at https://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle.
In fall, my first YA book will be released by Houghton Mifflin's Graphia line. It's called THE HALLOWEDONES, and it's pitched as "WITNESS meets 28 DAYS LATER." It's about an Amish girl who 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.
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me today! I really appreciate it!
Thank you so much for having me! This was a lot of fun. :-)
Laura has worked in library science, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by five mostly-reformed feral cats. She is represented by Becca Stumpf of Prospect Agency.