Laura Bickle is a favorite around the virtual offices, and I’m always delighted when she has time to drop in for a chat. Today we are going to talk about her soon to be released young adult title The Hallowed Ones. This is a scary glimpse at the end of the world! I enjoyed this thrilling, frightening, exciting read, and I wanted to ask Laura a few questions about it, so let’s see what she has to say.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Laura Bickle] Cat-rancher, Tarot enthusiast, and sometime salamander chaser. Writing urban fantasy and YA as Laura Bickle and Alayna Williams.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Hallowed Ones?
[Laura Bickle] 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?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Laura Bickle] I was thinking about what would happen if the end of the world came…I know this is a common thing to think about on an everyday basis! But that’s part of the joy in being a writer. I get to think about odd things.
I was wondering who would be best-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster. It occurred to me that the Amish would be uniquely equipped to survive. They are incredibly self-sufficient and are not dependent upon things we take for granted in our world, things like electricity and cars.
I live not too far from a large Amish settlement. When I was a child, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like. And that’s where Katie came from.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you research Amish culture and traditions?
[Laura Bickle] 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.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Katie?
[Laura Bickle] Katie is strong, quiet, and resolute. She’s a young woman growing into her power.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things would Elijah never have in his room?
[Laura Bickle] Hmmm…Elijah is the boy Katie has grown up with, who she expects to marry someday. Elijah is something of a straight arrow. He’d never have the keys to a car, a secret stash of Star Wars action figures, or anything with a remote control.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alex would never have in his pockets?
[Laura Bickle] 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.
Alex is a graduate student in anthropology. You wouldn’t find any of the following in his pockets: more than twenty bucks, a comb, or directions to the nearest church.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Katie had a theme song, what would it be?
[Laura Bickle] Hmmm. Katie doesn’t spend much time listening to popular music, but she was caught by her father humming “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones while milking the cows.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Laura Bickle] My herd of cats would say they’re my greatest influences. There’s always one or two draped on me while I’m trying to type, trying to hit the delete key.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Laura Bickle] Quiet, Coca-Cola, and someplace to sprawl out.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Laura Bickle] 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.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Laura Bickle] My all-time favorite is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. 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.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Laura Bickle] In my day job, I work in a library. I get to pet all the new books and come home with armloads of books to read for research and pleasure.
My husband and I are amateur astronomers. We were excited to finally get a break in the cloud cover to see a bit of the Perseids meteor shower this year.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Laura Bickle] I love to connect with readers! My website is www.laurabickle.com. I blog about nerdy stuff like my action figure collection at http://laurabickle.com/category/blog/ I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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