I’m a fan of Laura Bickle‘s writing, but I’m also a fan of the lady herself. (No she didn’t pay me to say that. *g*) Embers, the first book in the unique Anya Kalinczyk series, came out earlier this year – and Sparks (book 2) has recently been released. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Laura over here for a guest post and giveaway.
Here’s Laura on ‘magical places’ (totally appropriate considering how cool and magical her worldbuilding is) – and stick around until the end for a giveaway.
There are some places in the real world that have just stuck with me as I write, and have managed to work their way into my fictional worlds. These places have their own magic, their own special gravity that pulls pieces of stories around them.
When I was a child, I visited Serpent Mound with my grandfather. It’s the largest effigy mound in the U.S., shaped like a serpent swallowing an egg. The serpent coils over a preternaturally-silent meadow that smells like sunshine and fresh-cut grass. No one really knows what it was used for, and I always wondered. In my stories as an adult, it became the burial ground for a dragon in EMBERS, haunted by a ghostly woman who keeps guard to make sure the dragon sleeps: www.greatserpentmound.com
The Detroit Salt Mine, which was closed down for a period of time, is another such magical place. Stretching for miles beneath the city, it’s a series of glittering caverns. You can taste the salt and feel it crunching underfoot. It made the perfect lair for another sleeping dragon in my books
The Detroit Museum of Arts captured my imagination. DIA houses a piece of the Ishtar Gate, and the tiles show an image of a Babylonian dragon-like creature called a Sirrush. This artifact inspired the idea that Anya has a piece of the mythological goddess, Ishtar, within her. It also gave me a name for the dragon sleeping in the Salt Mine. The giant dragon, the granddaddy of all fire elementals, became a Sirrush in the world of EMBERS.
Michigan Central Station stands as a ruined hulk in Detroit, a husk of a building with broken out windows overlooking debris and unused train tracks. But you can still see its bones, how beautiful it was when it was built, when it stood in a city that was called “The Paris of the East.” Despite the graffiti inside and the lack of electricity, it’s easy to imagine it as I did, as a way station for traveling spirits in SPARKS: www.forgottendetroit.com/mcs/photos.html
What magical places in the real world have you written or read about? Are there some that inhabit larger amounts of real estate in your head than others, places that are absolutely unforgettable?
–Laura Bickle is the author of EMBERS and SPARKS from Pocket-Juno Books. Laura Bickle has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. More information on her work can be found at www.salamanderstales.com
“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, Tor.com
WITHOUT A TRACE. 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 plaguing 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, the 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.
Laura is giving away TWO signed copies of Sparks – just leave a comment on this entry by the end of the day Monday, October 18th, and I’ll announce the two winners soon after. Giveaway is open to all – get commenting!