Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Interview with Author Laura Bickle

After reading Embers by Laura Bickle I really wanted to know more about Sparky (Anya’s familiar), the next book in this series and about Dark Oracle, a book that Laura Bickle wrote under the name Alayna Williams. I asked Laura Bickle if she would agree to an interview and I’m delighted to tell you all she agreed!

I’m thrilled to be here! Thanks so much for having me. I’ve included a photo of my plush salamanders, for the pigs’ amusement!

Laura, thanks for coming and welcome to Pearls Cast before a McPig. And thanks for the really great picture of your salamanders! It’s always good to see other plush animals having fun. Now let me start with the first question.

Sparky is an amazing character. He’s cool, mischievous and fun. Oh, and Voodoo Bride says to tell you she thinks he’s really cute too. How did you come up with him?

I wanted to write about fire salamanders, since they really haven’t gotten much press since Paracelsus’ time. I thought that a fire salamander would be a somewhat unusual familiar, since Paracelsus and other ancient philosophers thought fire elementals were too fickle to keep as familiars.

Sparky is a composite of all the pets I’ve ever owned. None of my pets have been particularly well-behaved (some have been pretty feral), and Sparky is the result.

Any chance Sparky will meet any other familiars in upcoming books? (Pigs would make very good familiars for those dabbling with earth magic and we can find truffles. Just saying)

I’d never thought about pigs as earth familiars – excellent idea! I think that pigs and salamanders would get along famously. Salamanders love cats and dogs, after all. Pigs would be special.

Wow, thanks. I think pigs are special too, but all the other animals here disagree.
Talking about upcoming books. Will there be more books after Sparks?

I would love to do more books after Sparks. But, like any other series, I think that’s probably dependent upon how well EMBERS and SPARKS sell.

There are more critters in SPARKS. In SPARKS, Anya’s investigating a rash of spontaneous human combustion cases. With the help of the ghost hunters and 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 celebrity psychic.

Sparky is guarding a nest of newts hatching in Anya’s bathtub. There are more than thirty of the little guys, and Anya definitely has her hands full.

More than thirty newts? Sounds like there’s going to be a lot of Sparky related action in the book! I’m looking forward to reading it even more now.

On to the next question:
Anya sees ghosts and works together with a team of ghost hunters. So far she has encountered not only ghosts, but also some other creatures. Can we expect zombies to show up? Those aren’t too far removed from ghosts in my opinion. I’d love to see Sparky kick some zombie ass.

No plans for zombies. Yet. Though I agree that would be most excellent. I really enjoyed Zombieland, but it seems as if the best zombie ideas are already taken.

Hmmm…how about zombie pigs? Zombie pig familiars?

Now that sounds like a great idea! Who wouldn’t want to read about Zombie pig familiars. I think you should start writing before someone else steals this brilliant idea.

On to Dark Oracle. Tara is a(n ex) criminal profiler who uses tarot cards in her investigations. I must say that sounds really cool, I love the symbolism used in tarot. How did you come up with the idea and do you use tarot cards in your daily life?

I do use Tarot cards in my daily life. Like you, I love the symbolism and the story of the hero’s journey told in the cards. I literally wrote that book with a deck of cards in hand as story prompts.

Tara was inspired by the Queen of Swords. That card kept coming up for me, and I felt that it was time to write about her. I made her a criminal profiler, because of my own background in criminology.

From what I read about Dark Oracle it’s also Urban Fantasy. Will we encounter magical/supernatural creatures or does it focus more on supernatural/magic powers alone?

Yes, DARK ORACLE is also urban fantasy. It focuses primarily on supernatural and magic powers…no creatures, really. The series focuses on an order of oracles who have existed since the time of the Oracle of Delphi, called Delphi’s Daughters. Tara used to be one of them, but has struck out on her own. A lot of her personal conflicts deal with her estrangement from them and from herself.

DARK ORACLE deals with magic, but it also deals with science. Tara has to help find a missing scientist who’s unlocked the secrets of dark energy. I try to balance the magic and science, throw in a dollop of conspiracy, and stir well.

Voodoo Bride wants to know if there’s any romance in Dark Oracle.

There is more romance in DARK ORACLE. Tara is drawn out of her self-imposed exile by an intense federal agent, Harry Li. In her Tarot readings, he is her Knight of Pentacles. I hope that Voodoo Bride will be pleased.

Sounds like I’ll have to fight her for who gets to read the book first.

If you had to pick a tarot card for Anya, Sparky or Tara, which card would you pick for them (and why)?

Great question! Anya would probably be best represented by Strength. Strength shows a woman holding the jaws of a lion closed, which represents mastery over the beasts within oneself. Anya has to struggle with her dark side, and this card represents that conflict well.


Sparky is the Knight of Wands. His card would belong to the suit of Wands, since they traditionally represent the element of fire. Sparky is full of restless energy, always on the move. Like the Knight of Wands, he can be volatile and unpredictable.


Tara would be the Queen of Swords. She’s very much the Ice Queen, exiled from the world and attempting to understand it with both intuition and logic. She was scarred for life by a serial killer, and that’s left her with a great deal of sorrow that I see in that card.


Wow, some impressive picks. Thanks for this extra insight in your characters.

And now for the last question:
Do you have any other series planned besides these two series?

I have an epic fantasy that I’m shopping around. No word on that one yet, but you’ll be the first to know if it finds a home!

I hope you get people interested. If it is as well written as Embers I for one would love to read it. Thanks again for dropping by and for answering my questions. I’m looking forward to reading both Sparks and Dark Oracle.

Thanks so much for having me over to chat!

For those who haven’t read Embers yet: Be sure to pick it up and read it. It’s really cool!

Sparks will be available in August and Dark Oracle around the 25th of May according to

*the Tarot cards in the pictures are from the 'Mage: the Ascension Tarot' which has different names for the suits even though they mean the same as the normal tarot, but the cards shown are (as you might have guessed):
Knight of Swords
Knight of Wands
Queen of Swords


permanentcloud said...

very cool interview! i'll have to check the book out!

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for having me! And I LOVE the Tarot deck you've pictured. I may have to pick that one up for my collection... :-)

Tez Miller said...

If the newts are in the tub...hopefully Anya has a separate shower! ;-)

Laura Bickle said...

Tez, Anya is washing her hair in the kitchen sink. She's not to happy about that. ;-)

Sullivan McPig said...

@Cindy: I think you'll love it.
And I'm sure Anya will gladly suffer far worse than washing her hair in the kitchen sink for Sparky's happiness! ;-)

vvb32 reads said...

ha! love the interview! nice touch with the salamanders and tarot cards. ok, i'm gonna try embers ;-D

Laura Bickle said...

Hope that you enjoy it!

And with more than thirty newts underfoot, the least of Anya's problems is washing her hair in the sink. ;-)