I'm so happy to welcome Laura Bickle to as my special guest again. Make yourself comfortable, Laura, don't worry, you'll soon get used to the artificial gravity on the Flight Deck. Help yourself to something sparkling and begin by telling us what you like to do for fun when not writing?
I’m a complete nerd. My spare time is spent flipping through comic books, customizing action figures, and being harassed by my cats. I belly dance once in a while, and I just started karate lessons. Neither one of those activities is accomplished with much grace or expertise, but I have fun.
Wow, I can't speak for karate, but I've always thought belly dancing was so graceful and sensual. Getting back to your books though, when did you start writing?
I’ve always been scribbling, ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I loved stories – my mother was a librarian and was always reading to me – so I always wanted to try to tell my own.
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.
My most recent work includes a pair of dystopian fantasies. THE HALLOWED ONES is a YA thriller described as “Witness meets 28 Days Later.” The sequel, THE OUTSIDE, releases September 3.
I read the first chapter of 'The Outside' and it really has me hooked, so tell me, what comes first: the plot or the characters?
I’m a plotter. I love building a skeleton of a story and then adding flesh to it. Staring at the blank page scares the daylights out of me, and the outline is my security blanket. I find that the characters grow organically out of the plot, and that I grow to love them more than the story. They bring life to the story, while the plot structure supports them.
It's so interesting how people answer that question. characters growing out of the plot sounds so logical - for me it's actually the other way round! :) Tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it
At the end of THE HALLOWED ONES, Katie and her friends were exiled from Katie’s Amish community. As the title to THE OUTSIDE suggests, Katie must confront the devastation in the world beyond her community. Her chief challenges will be her own survival and protecting those she loves.
My favorite thing about the story is taking Katie from her familiar world and bringing her into ours. This is something that she wanted to experience before the disaster, when she longed to go on her Rumspringa. But she must now cope with it in a very dangerous new landscape, without any guarantees for a safe return.
This is such an interesting premise, and you've built Katie's world so well. How do you write - do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you find it distracts you?
I like instrumental or ambient music. It keeps my dreaded inner editor mollified while not being too distracting.
What is your favourite source of inspiration?
If I get stuck, I reach for my collection of Tarot cards and randomly pick some cards. More often than not, the cards I’ve drawn lead me to a new insight on the scene I’m working with.
That's an unusual and very interesting way to be inspired, Laura. Is there any advice, as a new writer, that you were either given, or wish you had been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to set up a word count calendar and use it. It’s too easy to let the days and weeks slip by without anything productive happening. I keep a writing calendar and to commit to writing a certain number of words a day. Otherwise, I tend to procrastinate. If I don’t set deadlines for myself, I would never finish a book
I really suggest that writers try National Novel Writing Month at least once. It got my excuses and blocks out of the way, and helped me learn that what I thought were my limits were not really limits. They were just walls I’d set up in my head.
A word count calendar is a really useful idea. I agree about NaNo too, I've done it three times and now have three drafts to edit! Sowho is your favorite character in your book and why?
Katie is my favorite. Katie was an interesting character to write because she's very strong in a quiet, enduring kind of way. And she’s a young Amish woman – which was a very exciting challenge for me to write! Katie struggles to develop her own moral compass, independent of her parents and community. That requires a great deal of fortitude, just as much fortitude as dealing with the evil creatures in her world.
Great answer, I like Katie too. Sadly we're coming to the end of our interview, but before we take a look at your book, where can readers connect with you?
My website is www.laurabickle.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, usually exclaiming over cutecat pictures.
Thank you so much for taking time to visit my blog, it’s been a thrill having you here and learning more about you and your writing. I wish you much success now and in the future.
Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it!
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams). Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.
Buy links for THE OUTSIDE:
by LAURA BICKLE
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
Advance Praise for THE OUTSIDE:
* “Top-notch. . . . A horror story with heart and soul.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“At once horrifying, hopeful, and hauntingly beautiful, this gorgeous read with its rich textures and spine-tingling suspense kept me glued to the pages in utter fascination. Laura Bickle is a master storyteller.”
-Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling author of The Darklight Series
Excerpt link: http://www.laurabickle.com/the-outside//?action=excerpt
THE HALLOWED ONES, the first book in the series, is on sale in August! The Kindle version is $1.99 right now. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hallowed-Ones-ebook/dp/B0098OHQNS/ref=sr_1_20?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1375456006&sr=1-20