Saturday, May 28, 2011

Laura Bickle - Character Interview, Book Giveaway

PhotobucketAnya 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 haunting 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, a 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.

Living with Salamanders
by Anya Kalinczyk

I didn't think that living with a salamander could get any worse.

I've been told there's a reason that witches won't take a fire salamander for a familiar. They're notoriously unpredictable. Sparky, my very own fire salamander, takes the shape of a five-foot long speckled hellbender.

He's fascinated with electrical fields, the only thing he can really affect on the physical plane. He's blown up my microwave and destroyed cell phones by chewing on them. He set off the sprinklers at the Detroit Crime Lab while playing with a Bunsen burner, destroying evidence for hundreds of cases.

I can't own any really cool electronic devices. I don't own a toaster, a cell phone or a television. My car is a 1974 Dodge Dart, which has very little electronics to speak of for him to screw with.

And we won't even talk about how much Sparky dislikes the idea of me having a love life. He's incredibly possessive. There's no way to get in the mood with a hellbender sitting at the edge of your bed, staring at you and slapping his tail on the mattress. Salamanders feel that sleeping in a pet bed is beneath them.


He's really not a bad salamander. He means well.

I mean, there are wonderful parts. Often, Sparky's a great help to me, both as an arson investigator and as a ghost hunter. Though he's invisible to most people, he's truly my touchstone and my guardian. He's loved me since I was a child. He slept in my crib and has watched over me as I grew into my power as a Lantern. I devour ghosts and incinerate them. It's not a pretty process. It's ugly, painful, and costs me a great deal. But he loves me, anyway. He sleeps in bed with me like an overgrown dog, cuddling his Glow-Worm toy.

I thought that we'd sort of reached a balance, after a few decades of this. But then, Sparky decided to get creative. Not that I don't have enough on my plate...I'm investigating a string of spontaneous human combustion cases that I'm trying to tie to a celebrity psychic. A psychopomp at the morgue tells me that this psychic is trying to overtake the Underworld itself, through the astral realm. I've got things to do, but...

I got up this morning to find Sparky purring over a nest of eggs that he laid in my bathtub. Salamander eggs. Fifty-one of them.

One salamander is a handful.

What am I going to do with an army of them?


Maybe invade the Underworld?



Laura Bickle has worked in libraries, criminology, and technology for several years. She lives in the Midwestern U.S. with her chief muse, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. 

Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

Will Be Showcased On WVR May 30th - As Alayna Williams




Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010 
“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 on

Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city. 

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it. 

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

A free excerpt is available here.


1 signed copy of SPARKS

One Winner ~ Internationally Open ~ May 31st



Toni said...

I love the different take on the supernatural. You seem to write the kind of novels I am interested in. Thanks for the introduction to your books.

BrittanyGale said...

Thanks for the giveaway. :) GFC hasn't been working for the past few days on half of the blogs I go to. I subscribed to your newsletter and followed on Twitter (@quixoticweetzie) instead. Thanks


Unknown said...

I enjoyed the character interview and the books sound great.

lindalou said...

Congrats on your new release! It sounds really good... I love paranormals and yours seems to take a slightly different twist... I'm looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the give-a-way!

Jen B. said...

I am intrigued. This series is going on my wish list. I love the idea that she is a fire investigator and a ghost hunter. I have always been intrigued by spontaneous human combustion. Congrats on the series.

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks, Toni! I hope you enjoy. :-)

Thank you, BrittanyGale! Blogger has been weird, lately. :-P

Glad that you liked meeting Anya, mbreakfield!

Thanks for stopping in, lindalou! I love playing with odd myths, and fire salamanders were a lot of fun.

Jen B., thanks so much! The research about spontaneous human combustion was interesting stuff...there's even a theory about something called a "phosphenic fart" that I had to work kidding!

IdentitySeeker said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. Anya seems like the type of heroine I like reading about. I hope to read this book sometime in the future.


Ren said...

Hi Laura, thanks for stopping by
Love character interview, and well the problem with 51 salamander eggs.. I hope she can find the solution and invade the Underworld seems great ;)

Thanks for the giveaway! :D
GFC follower (Ren)
sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

Sullivan McPig said...

*waves at Laura*
I can understand why Sparky won't sleep in a pet bed. I wouldn't either. ;-)

Laura Bickle said...

Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much!

Ren, the salamander thing becomes something of a problem, as you can well imagine! :-)

*waves at Sullivan* Pet beds are for dogs!

ArtemisG said...

Great interview. Sparky has very interesting and unique story. Thanks for the giveaway!

Rebe said...

I'm intrigued by this series because I lived in Michigan a few years ago. There aren't many urban fantasy novels based in Detroit, but it seems like such a great setting.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Momarabbit said...

Sound like a good read to me! Love the idea of a salamander who is her concern instead of the usual dog or cat companion. Thanks for the giveaway and I can't wait to read this novel!

tears_of_fire said...

I really like how different this book seems. It is definitely going on my to be read list :)

Read Between the Lines said...

would love to read this series still waitin on my local library to get Embers back on the shelf

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks, Diana! Sparky is a pain in the butt, but he makes up for it by being adorable. ;-)

Hi, Rebecca! My husband is from Detroit, so he played tour guide for me. Lots of interesting places to work into a story - like the salt mine beneath the city and Michigan Central Station. They make fabulous dragon lairs and way stations for ghosts!

Momarabbit, salamanders haven't gotten much press since Paracelsus' time, so I thought they were due. ;-)

Thanks so much, tears_of_fire!

Thanks for checking out EMBERS, Anna! I hope it comes in soon and that you enjoy it! :-)

Mary Preston said...

SPARKS & EMBERS : brilliant names. I have my fingers crossed.

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks, marybelle! :-)

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