Friday, October 28, 2011

Laura Bickle Talks Magic, Mayhem, Murder…and Sparky

Meet Laura Bickle, paranormal suspense romance author of Embers and Sparky ~ the Anya Kalinczyk series.

Here’s a bit about Laura: She’s worked in library science, criminology, and technology for several years, her chief muses. She lives in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. She’s represented by Becca Stumpf of Prospect Agency.

There ~ that's just enough to wet your appetite about for the interview where you'll learn more about her and the stars of her books.

Okay, Laura…let’s get started, looking forward to hearing all about Anya…

KDR ~ Embers has demons, phantoms, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder right in Detroit, MI (my home state). Tell us how the idea for Embers came to light for you.

LB ~ 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.

KDR ~ Anya Kalinczyk investigates arson for the Detroit Fire Dept. during the day and investigates the paranormal for the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers during the night. Tell us about Anya ~ she’s fascinating ~ what motivates her, drives her forward?

LB ~ 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.

KDR ~ What is a Lantern in an Anya sense of the word?

LB ~ 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.

KDR ~ Oh my goodness, Anya has a familiar. Please share what it is and what its role is in Anya’s life.

LB ~ When I set out to begin writing the Anya Kalinczyk series, I wanted my heroine to have some bit of unconditional love in her chaotic world.

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.

KDR ~ Tell us a little about DAGR (Detroit Area Ghost Researchers).

LB ~ DAGR is a group of amateur ghost-hunters. They're an eccentric little group that has an unusual and broad area of expertise: demonology, technology, and witchcraft. Also baking. Their headquarters is a bar called the Devil's Bathtub, which is a former speakeasy.  They are, for the most part, ordinary people with an extraordinary hobby.

KDR ~ Who is Anya’s love interest? Does he feel the same about her as she feels for him?

LB ~ Anya has the love of friendship from some of the members of her ghost-hunting group. Some of the group’s members are afraid of her. But Katie, the group’s witch, is like a sister to her. And with Brian, the group’s tech guru, there’s the chance for something more. Brian’s ordinary. He has no special powers, no ability to see into the darkness beyond what his instruments show him. And Anya loves him because he’s ordinary. He’s a touchstone into the solid, physical world. He’s human.

But Anya, like all the rest of us, wants to be understood. She wants someone to see the darkness in her, and tell her that she’s not a monster. That’s why she falls for Drake, a serial arsonist. He’s the only other Lantern she’s ever met. He understands who and what she is. She doesn’t need to hide or pretend around him. Only problem is…he’s using his power to awaken an ancient power that threatens to raze Detroit on Devil’s night. Drake’s lost touch with his humanity, which is the thing she loves most about Brian.


KDR ~ Can you share something about the dragons?

LB ~ The granddaddy of fire spirits is the Sirrush. The Sirrush has been around since ancient Babylon, and he's one of the kings of fire. They tend to hibernate for long periods of time, which is a good thing. Anya finds one buried in Serpent Mound in Ohio - a long mound in the shape of a serpent built by the ancient Adena. It has a guardian spirit, a woman who patrols to make sure that the dragon sleeps. Anya feels a kinship with this spirit, who is the spirit of a Lantern.

Anya realizes that only a Lantern can keep a Sirrush from rising. And there's one awakening in the salt mine beneath Detroit. Anya knows that she's going to have to sacrifice herself to keep it from rising.


KDR ~ What are you working on now?

LB ~ 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.


KDR ~ What or who inspires or influences your creativity?

LB ~ I've always been intrigued by the idea of a hidden supernatural world existing beneath our own. Urban Fantasy allows me to explore the "what if's." I like the fact that it's wide open. I'm not bound by many conventions as far as structure or the ending...UF doesn't require the story to follow a fixed pattern. I can allow the story to unfold and let it be unpredictable as it develops.

KDR ~ Is there any tip/s or advice you’d care to share with a fledgling romance author?

LB ~ Stick with it. Persistence is important: persistence in keeping the butt in the chair, finishing manuscripts, revising,'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.

KDR ~ Where can people find you? Website, blog, FB, Twitter, author page, buy page, etc.

LB ~ Folks can find me online in several places...

What’s Your Favorite/Preference Quickie Quiz – Getting to know Laura Bickle…


Coca-Cola. It's the breakfast of champions.

Writing Tool? 

Journals. I fill 'em up with ideas, and they become my guides as I write.


Cats. I'm owned by five. Fellow cat servants know how this works. :-S



Time of Day/Night?

Late afternoon.

Fantasy/Paranormal Character? (ghost, witch, mermaid, shifter, vampire, etc.) 

Fire salamanders!

Past time/Hobby? 

Bellydancing. I do not do this well enough to be seen in public...but it's fun.

What place have you never been and always wanted to go? 

Australia. Maybe someday!

Click on Cover for Buy Link

Anya Kalinczyk #1

“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

“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 and Barnes & Noble.

Click on Cover for Buy Link


Anya Kalinczyk #2

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.


Laura is offering a print edition of Embers as her giveaway for one lucky commenter. Drawing will be at noon Sat. 10-29-11 EST. The winner will be announced here. Please leave your email address so we may contact you for snail-mail information. This contest is only open to U.S. and Canadian residents for shipping purposes. Good Luck!!

It’s been a fun day, Laura. Thank you for making my place one of your Bewitching Book tour stops. I’d love to do have you as a featured guest author again sometime. Congratulations on your Anya Kalinczyk series, and I wish you many more successes.

Thank you everyone for stopping in and leaving Laura a comment for a chance to win a print copy of her book Embers. Don’t forget to leave your email address in case you win.

Until next time,

Kay Dee

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Kay Dee Royal said...

Good Morning Laura ~ I love everything I've read about your fact, they've both gone onto my TBR list.
There's something about them that remind of Mary Abshire's Soul Catcher series...only yours comes with a truly unique twist. Love it.

Okay ~ come on in and find a comfortable seat among the many here...I'll run and get you that breakfast cola you've been waiting for.

Laura Bickle said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Kay Dee. I'll have to take a look at Mary Abshire's work - thanks for the tip! I love adding books to my TBR pile.

Thanks so much for the breakfast cola! *hugs* ;-)

Kay Dee Royal said...

Thank you for spending the day with's been fun.

I'm looking forward to reading your books, Laura.

I wish you all successes on this series...and may you have many, many more.

Have a great weekend - Happy Halloween *smile*

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much, Kay Dee! You have a happy Halloween, too. :-)

S.Durham said...

Fascinating plot and characters, I'm sold and can't wait to add these to my TBR list. Thanks Laura for sharing, and Kay Dee great interview!

Cheers, Sara

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much, Sara! I hope that you enjoy. :-)

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