Please join us in welcoming author Laura Bickle to Dark Faerie Tales today! Her debut young adult novel, The Hallowed Ones, follows a young Amish girl as the world around her quickly falls apart. The Hallowed Ones officially releases tomorrow September 25, 2012! Click here to read an excerpt.
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 five mostly-reformed feral cats.
Want to read more from Laura Bickle?
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about The Hallowed Ones?
Laura: My September release is THE HALLOWED ONES, a YA thriller. Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the outside world. But the outside world comes to her when a helicopter falls out of the sky near her house. Katie must confront not only a massive disaster unfolding in the world outside her community, but also the threat of darkness in her own increasingly fragile society.
DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in The Hallowed Ones?
Laura: Katie was an interesting character to write because she’s very strong in a quiet, enduring kind of way. She struggles to develop her own moral compass, independent of her parents and community. That requires a great deal of fortitude, just as much fortitude as dealing with the evil creatures in her world.
Alex is an injured man Katie finds outside the boundaries of her community. Katie brings him inside her barn to recover, but can’t be sure what kind of evil he’s bringing in with him. I think Alex works because he challenges Katie. He’s an anthropology student in the outside world, and he both infuriates her and makes her consider ideas that she might not otherwise have encountered. His presence forces her to take risks, and she learns a great deal about herself and her own ethics in attempting to protect him.
Elijah is the boy Katie has grown up with, who she expects to marry someday. Elijah is something of a straight arrow. When the end of the world happens and he loses his brothers, he falls back on tradition. Hard. This really puts stress on his relationship with Katie, and Katie begins to question both him and the rules he’s following.
DFT: Describe your main characters in 3 words.
Laura: Katie’s quiet, strong, and curious. The last characteristic is the one that gets her into trouble.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line in The Hallowed Ones?
Laura: My favorite line is the first one: “After the end of the Outside world, the Plain folk survived.”
DFT: How much research went into creating this book?
Laura: I spent some time visiting the Amish settlement near where I live. I also did a good deal of reading…there are a lot of great books out there that look at the Plain way of life from a sociological perspective. National Geographic has also done a number of very good documentaries about the Amish. Many of the ideas were very foreign to me. For example, the Amish do not wish to be connected to the outside world, so power lines, phone lines, and electricity are not used. That kind of voluntary isolation is fascinating to me. The only parallel I can draw in my own life is when storms came through our area and we were without phone, cable, electricity, and internet for a week. It was very still and very peaceful.
I’m acutely conscious that I can’t know or understand everything about the Amish, never having lived in an Amish community. But I learned enough to develop an immense respect for the Amish way of life.
DFT: What is your favorite part about writing this book?
Laura: Telling my husband: “Hey! I’ve decided to write an Amish dystopian book with vampires in it. Pretty cool, huh?”
And then watching complete bafflement come over his face. “You’re writing a what?”
DFT: You also write two adult urban fantasy series, how much did you have to adjust your writing for this young adult novel?
Laura: I always have a lot of fun writing fantasy. I love asking those ‘what if’ questions and building worlds around the answers. Writing as Laura Bickle and Alayna Williams, I wrote four urban fantasies. Two are best summed up as “Ghostbusters in Detroit with dragons and arson” (EMBERS and SPARKS). The other two, DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE, are about a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes.
The funny part about THE HALLOWED ONES is that I didn’t set out to make it YA. It just came out that way…I knew that I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a young Amish woman who was dealing with issues of conformity and autonomy. I was completely unaware that it was YA until I turned it in to my agent.
So I guess…the answer is that I didn’t consciously adjust my writing. The story just developed on its own in a YA way.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Laura: I do my best to keep a writing calendar and to commit to writing a certain number of words a day. 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 or in coffee shops…I have to really shut the door on distractions to get focus.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?
Laura: Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN started my love of fantasy. 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.
And before that…Wonder Woman. I read every comic book I could get my hands on as a kid. And I still do. I gave Katie a stash of Wonder Woman comic books as her own secret rebellion in THE HALLOWED ONES.
DFT: Which genre do you prefer to read? Do you have any favorite authors or series?
Laura: I love reading all flavors of fantasy. I adore 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.
DFT: What can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
Laura: I’m working on the sequel to THE HALLOWED ONES. The sequel is due for publication in spring 2013. We’re still working on a title, but I hope to have one soon!
DFT: What creature are you afraid of the most? Why?
Laura: Do clowns count? When I was a really little girl, my grandmother gave me a pair of slippers with plastic clown heads on them. They terrified the daylights out of me, staring at me from the floor near my bed. I couldn’t sleep – I was a shrieking, teary mess.
My mom, thinking she needed to get those clown slippers out of my sight, shoved them under my bed.
And all I could think after that was that the clowns were under my bed. Who knows what terrible things they were doing in total darkness? Eeek!
DFT: What is your favorite faery tale? Why?
Laura: That’s a tough one, because I adore faery tales. My favorite film version, hands down, is HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. I know that’s not a traditional faery tale, but I love how it has many of the same elements. And Toothless is the most adorable dragon, ever. I’m hoping to catch the live show if it comes to town.
DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Laura: Thank you so much for interviewing me today!
Available September 25, 2012 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
About this Book:
If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.
Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: no one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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