As we wind down this month long event, I’d like to introduce an author who is new to this event but certainly not new to a lot of readers. Please welcome Laura Bickle.
1.Where did you get the idea for THE HALLOWED ONES?
When I was a little girl, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like.
Some of that curiosity lingered, and I always wanted to revisit it in a story. It popped back into my head when I was writing about a catastrophic contagion. Considering all the incredible self-sufficiency they apply in their everyday lives, it seemed to me that the Amish would be uniquely well-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster.
- How does your process change from book to book?
Each book is really its own animal, with its own challenges. The blank page scares the living daylights out of me. I always begin with a two or three page synopsis, a road map that helps me figure out the story arc and where I’m going with it. I want to have a definite idea of the beginning, middle, and end. That pretty much stays constant from book to book.
After I complete a draft, I go through it with index cards. This is the really nitty gritty stuff. I construct a timeline and assign each scene to a card. I list three important things the scene does to move the story forward and the page numbers on each card. I stack the cards together to form chapters. And the timeline I do lists what happens in each day. That keeps me out of trouble with characters who don’t sleep, don’t work, are more than one place at a time, and accomplish a superhuman amount of stuff in one day.
- Do you do a lot of research for your books?
I do…I think that it often takes as much time to research a book as it takes to write it. I give myself permission to fall down rabbit holes. I keep journals of newspaper clippings, maps, bits of tarot cards, and sketches. As something catches my fancy, I write it down or paste it in a blank book. Often, it emerges in a story later. It may take months or years for me to figure out what it really means, but keeping track of things is really key for me. The gathering comes first and then the intuitive connection among ideas comes later.
- You write under a second name (Alayna Williams), what made you make the decision to use multiple names?
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.
I had books coming out in these two alternating series in one year and we wanted to try and keep things somewhat simple
5. What can you tell us about your different books and series?
Right now, I’m working on the Dark Alchemy series. The tagline on the back cover – which I love! – is “Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad.”
Many Westerns begin with the story of a stranger coming to town, and this story is no exception. Geologist Petra Dee arrives in the tiny town of Temperance, Wyoming, to find clues about her father’s disappearance decades before. In the course of her investigation, Petra stumbles across a string of weirdly dessicated bodies that she can’t explain with science. She finds herself in a war among the local cattle baron, his undead minions, and a drug-dealing alchemist. It’s very weird west meets contemporary fantasy. The second book in the series, MERCURY RETROGRADE, released in the fall.
- What would you tell an aspiring writer who is struggling?
Try NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month, at least once. It’s a challenge each November to chuck your excuses and write 50,000 words in a month. It really gets you out of your head and quiets inner criticism, and forces you to produce to a deadline. I use what I’ve learned doing NaNoWriMo with every book I’ve written.
- Is writing your primary career or do you have another job?
I’ve worked in libraries and in criminal justice for more than a decade, but right now, I’m focusing entirely on writing. It’s terrifying and thrilling at the same time!
8. Do you have anything new you’re working on?
I’m cooking up a new book for the Dark Alchemy series – stay tuned for details!
9. What else is on your plate for the next year?
I’ll be attending a few conventions around the Midwest – Rust City Book Convention, WiSHCon, and World Fantasy Convention. It’s always fun to crawl out of my office, put on adult clothes, and have the chance to talk to folks in person!
10. Anything else you want to talk about?
I forgot to mention that I *do* have another job. Somewhat. I’m a cat minion. We have five cats at the moment. I just convinced the sixth, a feral who’s been hanging around the garden for a couple of years, to decide that indoors would be better than outdoors. Wish me luck!
Many thanks to Laura for joining us. If you want to win a copy of one of her books hop on over to the month long giveaway.
From our shelves to yours,
Erin and Laura