I met Sparky the fire salamander while reading Laura Bickle’s Embers. Sparky is protagonist Anya Kalinczyk’s familiar. He’s got a tough job, because he’s like her body guard. Anya is an arson investigator in Detroit, and she also helps dispose of unfriendly spirits. She is constantly getting herself into trouble, so Sparky has to work extra hard to get her back out of it, and worse, he doesn’t always get the respect he deserves! I asked him a few questions, hoping to set the record straight for him. It’s so unfair that he works so hard, yet gets hardly any recognition!
[Manga Maniac Café] Hi, Sparky! Can you please tell us a little about yourself? More specifically, what are you? And why can’t I see you?
[Sparky] Greetings! I’m a fire salamander, an elemental avatar of fire. Most often, I take the form of a five-foot speckled hellbender. It’s pretty convenient in your plane of reality.
Alas, only my owner, Anya Kalinczyk, can see me. Ghosts. And dogs and cats, too. I like to tell people that when their cat is staring at the ceiling, it’s likely because they see a salamander crawling on it.
I never tell my age. But I’ve been a familiar for Joan of Arc and Van Helsing. I was also implicated in that Hindenburg disaster, but I have never confessed.
[Manga Maniac Café] What’s a typical day for you?
[Sparky] My current owner is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department by day. By night, Anya works with an oddball group of ghost hunters. During the day, there’s a lot of picking through charred crime scenes. I chase things that go bump in the night afterward. We get to do a lot of fun stuff…figure out spontaneous human combustion, explore dragon lairs in salt mines, and chat with Roman-era centurion ghosts in the museum. Fun times.
But it’s not always fun. Anya devours ghosts. It’s not a pretty process, and she tends to feel like the human garbage disposal for the ghost hunters. I try to cuddle up and be as soothing as possible after she has to incinerate a ghost. I think it helps her feel better.
And yes, salamanders can purr.
[Manga Maniac Café] What’s your favorite snack food?
[Sparky] I don’t eat things that most creatures do. I feed off of energy, so I get a charge out of blowing up microwaves, setting off fire alarms, and chewing on cell phones.
But my favorite snack food is ghosts. Ectoplasm…nomnomnom.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things you would never put in your mouth?
[Sparky] Hmmm. Gotta think hard on this one. Salamanders will taste pretty much anything at least once.
But I’m not a fan of Brussels sprouts, alkaline batteries, or vampires. They all taste funny.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you describe your relationship with the Glow Worm?
[Sparky] Sigh. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a favorite toy. Hopefully, this doesn’t ruin my street cred. Anya bought me a Glow Worm several years ago. I can actually interact with it…turn it on and off. So I sleep at the foot of her bed, cuddling the Glow-Worm. It’s the best toy, ever.
And I will kill anyone who tries to take it from me. Grrrrrr!
[Manga Maniac Café] Which of Anya’s traits do you find most annoying?
[Sparky] Jeezus, she snores. Loudly. It’s like trying to sleep with a Mack truck.
I’m also mildly jealous of her rubber duck collection.
But I get really annoyed when she gets involved in a relationship. She has terrible taste in men. And she even resorted to drawing a magic circle around her bed to keep me out, when the mood strikes. Very insulting.
[Manga Maniac Café] Do you have a girlfriend, or are you too busy protecting Anya to have a personal life?
[Sparky] Sparky loves the ladies! But I’m too much salamander to settle down with just one. Rest assured, though, that there’s plenty of Sparky to go around.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t protecting Anya or destroying electrical appliances?
[Sparky] The time that I’m not padding around in giant salamander form, I’m taking a nap in my owner’s magic necklace. Think "I Dream of Jeannie." Ultra-posh digs with lotsa velvet , lava lamps, and Barry White in the background.
[Manga Maniac Café] What about the Lions this year? Think they will win the Super Bowl?
[Sparky] Don’t depress me. There are some things that even supernatural forces cannot help.
[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!
You can learn more about Sparky by following him on Twitter. You can also read about him in Laura Bickle’s Embers and Sparks. You can purchase them from your favorite book seller or by clicking the widget below
A great big thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for making this interview possible. It is not easy interviewing a creature that you can’t see, and Roxanne’s assistance made this all possible.
Subscribe in a reader