I am thrilled to have Laura Bickle visiting Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf today! This sounds like an amazing series…I plan to start reading the series this Fall!
1. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
My professional background is in criminal justice and library science. I live in the Midwest with my husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. They’re a little socially-awkward (the cats, not the husband!), but they are delightful companions.
2. When did you know that you wanted to write professionally and how did you take the leap to get into the business?
Deciding to write professionally was a big leap for me. I had always enjoyed writing for myself, but I had other dreams that I was pursuing. But dreams change, and I really began to think seriously about what would happen if I tried to build a life around writing.
I started submitting my work a few years ago. In navigating the acceptances and the rejections, I got to figure out what I wanted out of life. And this suits me. I enjoy the solitary work, the research, and setting my own goals. Parts of it are scary – the unpredictability, for example – but it’s immensely satisfying.
3. Can you tell me a little bit about your book and what inspired it?
I live not too far from a large Amish settlement, one that I visited often as a child. I used to see the Amish girls my age and wonder how their lives were different from mine. I admired how strong and self-sufficient they seemed. It later occurred to me that these traits, combined with their incredibly strong sense of community, could make the Amish uniquely equipped to survive certain types of disasters, such as the one that devastates the world in THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE.
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.
4. What do you hope that readers take way with them after reading your book?
Throughout the story, Katie is in the process of developing her own moral compass. She struggles with the demands of being part of a community and her own desires as an individual. These are issues that I think that all people deal with, and I hope that Katie’s conflict resonates with readers.
5. I find it interesting to know what environment authors find most productive… Do you use a pen and paper or laptop? Quiet room at home or bustling café? Basically, what gets your creative juices flowing?
I do my best to keep a writing calendar and to commit to writing a certain number of words a day on the laptop. My favorite place to write is out on the patio, where I can hear the frogs and the crickets. I can’t write very fast or well in front of the television…I have to really shut the door on distractions to get focus. I know a lot of writers who can write in busy coffee shops, but that’s not me. Too much going on, and I can’t get immersed in the work if there’s the constant temptation of chocolate…
6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism I’ve received as an author was the suggestion that writing was something I’d grow out of.
The best compliment has been recently receiving a starred Kirkus review for THE OUTSIDE. I’m still on cloud nine!
7. What book is currently on your nightstand? And who are some of your favorite authors?
I actually have several decks of Tarot cards on my nightstand. At the moment, the collection includes the Hanson-Roberts Tarot, the Wildwood Tarot, and the Elemental Forces of Creation Oracle.
I love FEVER by Lauren DeStefano. Her voice is so incredibly powerful – I can’t wait for the third book in the Chemical Garden trilogy. Both WITHER and FEVER were books that lingered with me for a long time after I finished – I love it when a story takes up real estate in my head and haunts me like that.
My all-time favorite is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. I read it when I was a pre-teen, and fell in love with fantasy ever after. It was the first book I’d read that had a female protagonist who slew her own dragons. I was hooked.
8. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have an entirely out-of-control collection of Wonder Woman and She-Ra action figures. Thanks to the miracle of eBay, I’m reconstructing my brother’s old collection of He-Man action figures from his childhood and restoring them.
I refuse to grow up!
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My best advice is to try to strike a balance between listening to one’s internal voice and being open to change. A writer really needs to believe in the work, but it’s also necessary to be flexible. Editors and agents will have ideas that can really refine and highlight that initial vision if you remain open to them. I have never regretted making edits, and that process is really where you can uncover some undiscovered gold.
10. What can we expect from you next?
The sequel to THE HALLOWED ONES, THE OUTSIDE, will be released September 3. As the title suggests, Katie has to confront the devastation in the world beyond her community. Her chief challenge will be protecting those she loves and her own survival in a very dangerous new landscape.
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
11. Do any animals share your life? Please tell us about them.
Ohhhh…if there is a stray or feral cat within ten miles, it will find me! My husband and I have five cats: Syd, Meg, Piper, Luna, and Gibby. That’s about seventy pounds of cat. And it sure feels like a lot of cat when I wake up at six in the morning and they’re all sprawled over me.
Really, we’re very fortunate to have so much love.
I have a Piper as well!
And now for a little bit of fun:) This or That?
Coffee or Tea? Tea.
Sweet or Salty? Sweet.
Beach or Lake? Lake.
Winter or Summer? Summer.
Cats or Dogs? Cats.
Zombies or Vampires? Vampires.
Country or City? Country.
Shower or Bath? Bath.
Morning or Evening? Evening.
M&Ms or Skittles? M&Ms.
Trains or Planes? Trains.
Comedy or Drama? In real life – comedy. In the movies -drama.
Title: The Outside
Series: The Hallowed Ones #2
Author: Laura Bickle
Age Group: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Available Formats: Hardcover, E-Book
Add the book: Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N
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?
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and 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.