Author Interview with Laura Bickle / Alayna Williams + Giveaway

Filed in Alayna Williams , Giveaways , Interview , Laura Bickle , The Latin Lover Posted on June 13, 2011 @ 6:00 am 27 comments
Today I am beyond happy to welcome to Book Lovers Inc. one of my most recent favourite UF authors, who besides writing amazing novels is incredibly friendly and sweet. Please give a warm welcome to Laura Bickle author of the Anya Kalinczyk series (Embers and Sparks) and the Oracle series (Dark Oracle and Rogue Oracle) penned as Alayna Williams! 

If you would like to get an idea about Laura’s writing or the universe in her novels, you can read my review of Embers and Dark Oracle here on BLI.

Stella: Hi Laura, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Laura: Thanks so much for having me!
I’ve worked in libraries, criminology, and technology for several years. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my chief muse, owned by five mostly-reformed feral cats. Writing as Laura Bickle, I’m the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, I’m the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. My hobbies include bellydancing, reading, and amateur astronomy. Very, very amateur astronomy. As in…If I don’t break anything and I saw the moon, it’s a good night.

Stella: Can you describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Laura: I’m a planner. I know that’s not very exciting, but nothing intimidates me more than a blank page. I like to have a roadmap to show me where I’m going. That’s not to say that I don’t like some surprises along the way – I do. But I like to plot.
I try to do at least a thousand words a day. Some days I hit the mark, some days not. There is usually plenty of feline help involved in the process.

Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Laura: Book lovers fall asleep with books. I’ve awoken with a book jabbing me in the ribs. I also keep my monster TBR stack beside my bed. If it ever topples, well…I’m done for.

Stella: You write urban fantasy under two different pen names: as Laura Bickle you pen the Anya Kalinczyk urban fantasy series (Book #1: Embers and Book #2: Sparks), while as Alayna Williams you are the author of the Oracle urban fantasy series (Book #1: Dark Oracle and Book #2: Rogue Oracle). Could you please tell us a bit more abut each series, the heroines, the characters and the unique worlds in which these stories are set?
Laura: By day, Anya investigates suspicious fires as an arson investigator in Detroit. By night, she works as part of an eccentric group of ghost hunters. 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. With the help of her cranky fire salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya chases supernatural and human threats to her city.
In the ORACLE books, Tara Sheridan swore off criminal profiling after narrowly escaping a serial killer. By combining Tarot card divination with her own intuition, she must help an intense federal agent unravel a series of strange crimes from the far reaches of science and magic.

Stella: Anya is a Lantern, a unique magical creature, I have to say so far I have never come across anything similar. How did the idea came for this specific magical talent and/or the whole story behind Embers?
Laura: I have bad dreams every once in awhile in which I confront creatures haunting my house. My reaction, in the dream, was to absorb them…so the idea for a Lantern was created.
Anya is the rarest type of spiritual medium, a Lantern. Where other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya devours and incinerates them. It’s not a pretty process, and she often feels like a human bug zapper.
So…I had the idea of fire. And then the concept of an arson investigator with a fire salamander familiar took hold. Fire is a fascinating element…it’s destructive, but also provides so much light and vital warmth.

Stella: One cannot speak of Embers and not mention Sparky 😀 He is one of the cutest fictional pets I have read about. Could you or Anya please tell us a bit more about Sparky for those of our readers who haven’t read your series yet? What is every day life with a fire elemental salamander?
Laura: Sparky is a fire elemental familiar, a salamander. He takes the shape of a five-foot speckled hellbender… when he’s not busy taking a nap in Anya’s necklace (his favorite vessel). He’s invisible to most humans, but can be seen by Anya, ghosts, and animals. Sparky’s presence can be felt through his effects on electrical fields – he’s blown up Anya’s microwave, devoured cell phones, and set off the sprinkler system at the Detroit Crime Lab.
I wrote Sparky because I wanted Anya to feel the unconditional love of a pet. He’s Anya’s fiercest protector. His hobbies include chewing on ghosts, chasing his cat friends, and snuggling with his Glow-Worm toy.

Stella: Neither of your UF series is light: both are gritty and rather on the dark side. Do you prefer to read these kinds of books too or did the Anya Kalinczyk and Oracle series start out lighter and then become darker as you were writing them?
Laura: I’m fairly consistently gritty. And I tend to like to read darker fiction. I find that it keeps me guessing more, and I like the challenge of working through things that scare me.

Stella: Why write under a different pen name if both of your series are urban fantasy novels? What is different about them?
Laura: My editor recommended that I use a different pseudonym for the ORACLE books. My first book, EMBERS, came out in April, 2010. DARK ORACLE was scheduled for June of that year. We thought it would be confusing for readers to have two UF series going on under the same name, with alternating release dates. For that purpose, it made sense to create “Alayna.” In that sense, it was a branding decision.
Building another personality was interesting. I used variations of my own middle name and my husband’s, so that it would be a name that I’d react somewhat normally to at conventions. I think that much of that relies upon only hearing my middle name when I was a kid in trouble: “Laura Alayna, get into the house THIS INSTANT…”
Both series are urban fantasy. But a little different. The Anya books are very much gritty urban fantasy, while the Oracle books border on science fiction.

Stella: I’m curious to know how it is writing different series with a different writing style, tone. Do you have any rituals or aids to help you get into the right mindset of the actual series?
Laura: I used Tarot cards as writing prompts while writing the ORACLE books, which was a lot of fun for profiling characters. Whenever I got stuck on a plot point, I’d pull some cards. Some of those spreads show up in the final story. So, I think the use of cards is often a visual cue to switch gears.

Stella: Can you share some behind the scenes secrets with us about the novels or your writing? (How long did it take you to write the novel? Were you writing them simultaneously? And from the moment they were/it was finished to publish it?)
Laura: The single most important factor in becoming a writer is finishing works in that progress. To that end, I use the National Novel Writing Month technique of keeping a daily word count ( Both DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE were NaNoWriMo books.
I tend to like to juggle projects. It takes me a few months to finish one, from the idea through research, outlining, and revisions.
As for getting them to market, that’s often a matter of luck and timing. It usually takes more than a year from contract to the time the book hits the shelves.

Stella: Did you use tidbits, details of your professional experience and previous jobs in portraying Anya’s or Tara’s work?
Laura: Sometimes, I get to write about things I know. I have a background in criminology, and I’ve puttered with Tarot cards since I was a teen. I love to add little details for realism.

Stella: Can you tell us a bit how you write: do you write things you know or research things you are not familiar with? I was amazed at how well detailed and precise the procedures and progress of things were written (loved learning more about fire investigation and atom physics for example)!
Laura: Research is one of my great joys in being a writer. I get to look into all kinds of strange topics: spontaneous human combustion, dark matter, radiation poisoning…I learn so much with each book.
I keep notebooks stuffed full of articles and notes. It’s very low-tech, but I like the tactile nature of it.

Stella: Will there be more books in the Anya Kalinczyk and Oracle series? What is next on your schedule?
Laura: No word yet on further books in those series. But 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.

Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Laura: I don’t have vamps or weres, but I do like to play with supernatural ideas. I also have a background in criminology, which I get to highlight with heroines chasing criminals. My books often include mashups of magic and reality or science, which is a lot of fun for fans of FRINGE and THE X-FILES.

Stella: Can you summarize the Anya Kalincyzk/Oracle series for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)? 
Laura: For the Anya books, I like to sum them up as: “Ghostbusters in Detroit with dragons and arson.” For the Oracle books, I can best describe them as: “Criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes.”

Stella: If there was a literary crossover, which fictional hero/heroine could you imagine welcoming to your series as either BFF, love interest or nemesis to the heroines?
Laura: I think Sparky the salamander would have a lot of fun with Phineas the Unicorn from Allison Pang’s A BRUSH OF DARKNESS. They occasionally talk trash to each other on Twitter (@SparkySalamandr and @phintheunicorn).

Stella: Now some quick questions-answers (I’m not saying it will be easy):

Favourite book/author? 
Laura: Robin McKinley. Yeah, anything she writes is on my “must buy” list.

Stella: Literary character who you would like to have as best friend? 
Laura: Aerin, from Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN

Stella: Favourite movie? 
Laura: My most recent favorite is CONSTANTINE. Has all the elements of a great urban fantasy.

Stella: Author you would die to co-write a book with? 
Laura: I’m a diehard fangirl of Elizabeth Bear.

Stella: Genre you could never write? 
Laura: I’m open to a lot of different genres…but I don’t think I could do a good Western.

Stella: Genre you would like to try your hand at next? 
Laura: I’ve been kicking around some YA and epic fantasy ideas.

Stella: Best thing about being an author? 
Laura: Getting to build new worlds and the chance to research obscure facts.

Stella: Worst thing about being an author? 
Laura: Having too many ideas and not enough hours!

Stella: Please complete:
Laura: Deadlines make me…..invigorated. They make me feel wanted. 🙂
Bloggers are…..the most dedicated folks on earth, and so much fun to chat with!

Stella: And last, can you share a little trivia about yourself not many people know about you?
Laura: I think that people would be most surprised to learn that I’ve been known to break out into spontaneous bellydancing. But never in public. 😉

Stella: Thanks a bunch for answering my questions!! 🙂

Laura: Thanks so much for the interview! I had so much fun. 🙂

You can find Laura Bickle at her website:
Laura’s blog:
Alayna’s blog:
Laura is also a proud member of Word Whores.
And of course you can also find her on Twitter: @Laura_Bickle





Laura generously offered a copy of Sparks to a lucky commenter and I would like to offer to a second winner their choice of any book by Laura Bickle or Alayna Williams.

All you have to do is leave a comment/question for Laura.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email address or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open worldwide!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, June 25th and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!


About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

Share This Post

Subscribe and stay up-to-date

Via E-Mail:

Follow us via RSS, twitter and facebook:


Join the Discussion
  • Birgit June 13, 2011 at 6:52 am

    I've heard about people doing spontaneous happy dances, but bellydance? That's a new one 😀 !
    Great interview! I love The X-Files, and don't really need vampires and the likes, sooo your book sounds just like my kind of read!!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  • Estella June 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Love the idea of a salamander as a familiar!
    have not read your books, but am putting them on my Wish List.

    kissinoak at frontier dot com

  • Laura Bickle June 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Birgit, happy belly dance is something to be experienced! It jingles. 😉

    Thanks for including me on your list, Estella! 🙂

  • Sullivan McPig June 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Great interview as always!
    Not entering, but wish all thowe who do good luck!
    Laura's books are awesome!

    *waves at Laura and Sparky*

  • Raonaid Luckwell June 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    No need to enter me since I own all four books of Laura's. Just showing my fellow warrior support.

    The books are awesome! I always highly recommend them to people. Sparky is so awesome… Tell him I got a kitty he can play with. He and Storm should have a rip roaring time. Simi and Nyxie may want to play too.

  • Linda June 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Added both of the 1st bks to my wishlist. Both series sound intriguing. *fingers crossed*

  • Jen B. June 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I would love to read either series. I have seen these books on a number of other sites and I have added them to my wish list. I love UF and I am always looking for new authors. What made you decide to include a fire elemental salamander in Anya Kalinczyk series? That is such a neat idea. And, thanks for the giveaway.

  • draconismoi June 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Constantine is your most recent favorite? It's not that recent, is it?

    There goes my vision of the glamorous writer's life, where you get to go see ALL the new movies for inspiration. 🙂

    cass at feministdracona dot net

  • mbreakfield June 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Great interview! Both series sound awesome. I,especially, want to read about Sparky.

  • marybelle June 14, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Fascinating interview. The kind of insight that says I must chase up your books.

  • shadow June 14, 2011 at 6:29 am

    wow. your books sound awesome! your a new to me author but your books are going on my wish list! 🙂 thank you for the giveaway!

  • madsheepno1 June 14, 2011 at 6:30 am

    i am now looking forward to checking out and reading some of the books you have written always on the look out for new authors to read esp as i read about 7 books a week
    many thanks

  • Tore June 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I am really looking forward to reading your books. They sound very good. Please enter me in contest.

  • Laura Bickle June 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you so much, Sullivan! *Sparky swishes his tail and waves back*

    Thanks, Raonaid! *blushes* Sparky would love to play with Storm, Simi, and Nyxie! 🙂

    Thanks, Linda! Good luck! 🙂

    Hi, Jen B! I thought that fire salamanders hadn't gotten much press since Paracelsus' time…so they were overdue for some press! 😉

    draconismoi, I freely admit that I don't get out much. I did see THOR, but spent most of the film rooting for Loki. 😉

    Thanks, mbreakfield! Sparky is a lot of fun to write.

    Thanks for stopping by, marybelle! I hope you enjoy them.

    madsheepno1, I am so impressed that you can read seven books a week! I am lucky to finish one. I'm a slow reader, LOL!

    Tore, thanks so much for entering! 🙂

  • LSUReader June 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    The salamander and the unicorn? Sounds interesting. I enjoyed the reviews and interview. Both series sound captivating. Thanks for visiting.

  • Jessica June 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Totally love your Oracle books that you write as Alayna! They're so fun and different! Haven't read your other series, keep meaning to, but my TBR pile is too tall at the moment!

    Can't wait to read more of your Oracle series though!


  • JessS June 15, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Ooh, Constantine, Yay! While it isn't my favourite movie it's definitely top ten. And it was funny because the first time I saw it it was just on tv and I kinda expected it to be crap and was mking fun of it but by the end was really involved and found it was awesome.
    I haven't read your books yet but they sound awesome so thanks for the giveaway. Really interesting about the pen names because I can actually picture myself being confused as they're released so close together.


  • Jolene and Family June 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, can't wait to get started on both series. I know some authors have other pen names and I love finding that out because most of the time I'm pretty cluless 🙂 I can't wait to dive into these, thanks for the chance to win


  • Sarah June 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    "Book lovers fall asleep with books" LOL! So true 🙂 More often than not I fall asleep reading and wake up with my thumb still holding my place in the book I'm reading!

    smaccall AT

  • Laura Bickle June 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks, LSUReader! I appreciate you dropping by and saying hello!

    Awww, thanks so much, Jessica! 😀 My TBR pile is entirely out of control – I sympathize!

    Thanks, JessS! I just really loved everything about Constantine – I remember reading the comics, and I just love the background of the story.

    Jolene, thanks so much! Having a pseudonym can make for a really long name badge at conventions…and I have started to scribble the wrong name on a book more than once! :-S

    Sarah, you are much better than I am! When I fall asleep with a book, it manages to either get lost in the bed or fall on the cat. :-S

  • Buttercream June 17, 2011 at 12:27 am

    What a novel idea, using tarot cards as a part of the writing process. You're a new author but I'll be keeping your novels in mind for to-read list. They sound great.


  • Laura Bickle June 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks, Buttercream! They're a fun tool to use…sort of like having a storyboard at one's fingertips!

  • Jeanne June 20, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I think that is maybe better that this book doesn´t have vampires or weres because they are everywhere now. I love heroines chasing criminals♥

    I´m definitely Book lover! I fall asleep with book every day. Sometimes it´s a full-time job xD Because my neck hurts so bad…when I wake up next morning 😀

    By the way bellydancing is so great! I used to do that too 😉

    …and thank you for the chance to win your book! I would love to read it!

  • heatwave16 June 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I just love Sparky!!! Familiars always seem to be cats, dogs, or birds. Such an original idea with the salamander.


  • Laura Bickle June 21, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Thanks, Jeanne! Bellydancing is so much fun…I'm too chicken to ever perform, but I love doing it.

    Heatwave, I'm so glad that you like Sparky! He is wriggling in delight that you mentioned him!

  • evening-green June 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I haven't read any of the books yet, I think both series sound fun, I'll have to try them. Thanks for the fun interview and giveaway too! (especially liked the bit about the salamander:)

    eveningreen AT gmail DOT com

  • Laura Bickle June 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks so much, evening-green! I appreciate you stopping by. 🙂

Previous Post
Next Post
Luvo designed by Internet Marketing In conjunction with Template Wordpress , R4 DS , Best SUV.