Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sparks by Laura Bickle - Interview & Review:Bewitching Promotions

Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
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.

A free excerpt is available here.
EMBERS is available now from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
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

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.

SPARKS is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

A free excerpt is available here.
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
She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

Embers by Laura Bickle

I am currently reading Embers and I am about 30% into it.  This book starts off good and just keeps getting better.  Anya is a prickly protagonist who has some unique and scary special abilities.  Her familiar, Sparky, routinely steals scenes with his antics and misbehaviors.  I will write my full review within the next few days.

Tell us about your current release.

My current release is SPARKS, from Pocket Books. 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 incinerates them. With the help of her fire salamander familiar, Sparky, and a ragtag group of ghost hunters, Anya chases down unseen threats to her city.

In SPARKS, Anya’s investigating a rash of spontaneous human combustion cases. With the reluctant assistance of a soul collector from the Underworld, she must track down the supernatural source of the fires and keep Sparky’s newly-hatched newts safe from a malicious psychic. 

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

Most of them don't know! My husband is a great beta reader for me. But I get a little nervous when I imagine other people I know well walking around in my head and looking at the scenery. So...I don't tell them.

I did tell my mom a little while ago. It's very strange to have one's mother reading one's sex scenes.

She did say that they were "tasteful," at least. Whatever that means...

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

I confess. I'm a plotter.

I dislike staring at a blank page. It's intimidating. I want to have some idea of where I'm going and how I'm gonna get there.

I begin with a high-level outline. A skeleton or scaffolding. As I work through the manuscript, it becomes more detailed. Flesh gets added to the bones. There are ideas that need to be reiterated, loops that need to be closed, threads to tie up. It eventually breaks into a scene-by-scene outline.

That's not to say that I have no serendipities, no flow. I do chase ideas down rabbit holes and find my own little synchronicities. The outline is not sacred - it's meant to be torn apart and reconstructed. But I like having a light in the darkness to show me where I'm going.

Like a Lantern???  Haha!!  Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Stick with it. Persistence is important: persistence in keeping the butt in the chair, finishing manuscripts, revising, submitting...it's all about determination. It's easy to get disillusioned, but the key thing is to keep working through it.

I also recommend that writers try National Novel Writing Month at least once. It really helped me integrate writing into my daily life and improved my productivity. And the sense of community is unbeatable.

What hobbies do you actively pursue?

My husband and I are amateur astronomers. I also belly dance a bit...but not in public. Nobody needs to see that, trust me! ;-)

I initially became interested in belly dancing because I wanted to help overcome my shyness. Since I spend so much time in my head, it helped me think of my body a bit more, get outside of myself. I still wouldn't dance in public, but it's a lot of fun to get together with a group of women to laugh and shimmy.

What would we find under your bed?

Okay, I just looked.

There are an embarrassing number of dust bunnies. There are almost as many cat toys, of various shapes and sizes. A couple of pens and a notebook. A deck of Tarot cards. And a remote control that I haven't been able to find in forever...thanks!

Too funny!!  We also have cat toys under EVERTHING... they do it deliberately.  LOL  Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

Definitely an introvert. I've taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory several times, and I always score very strongly on the "Introvert" axis. I'm a pretty solid INTJ (Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging).

I tend to meet a lot of fellow introverts among writers, and it's neat to be able to share experiences with folks who perceive the world in a similar way. I have an ongoing joke with a friend about introverts needing to flee to their hotel rooms to recharge their batteries between sessions at conventions. It's entirely true for me.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I can be found on the web at http://www.salamanderstales.com/and http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com/. I try to keep the cute cat pix to a minimum, but don't always succeed.


Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today! :-)

Laurie said...

You're so welcome! I'm sorry I'm a little slow reading Embers, but I absolutely adore Sparky. I've been canning all morning and I just hope to get back and finish reading this afternoon......Yum...apple pie filling! We have one fresh apple pie cooling on the counter now and I have 13 more quarts of apple filling we canned. The house smells wonderful but now I'm hungry!! LOL

Laura Bickle said...

No worries, Laurie! Take your time - I'm just pleased that you're enjoying Sparky.

I canned tomatoes a couple of weekends ago...have plenty of tomato sauce, salsa, and ketchup! I've never done apple pie filling, though. Do you have an apple tree?

Laurie said...

I've canned some salsa, also...never would have considered ketchup-what a great idea! I plan to can some enchilada sauce in a day or two. I found a recipe that looks good.

Nope, no apple tree. There were a bunch of different types of apples on sale at wal-Mart so we stocked up on those a few days ago. I still have about 10 pounds remaining so I think we're going to dry the rest of the apples in slices. I love that for snacks.

Pabkins said...

Ooo - I am adding book 1 to my wishlist/to buy right now!

Pabkins @ Mission to Read