"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Review & Interview with Laura Bickle - The Hallowed Ones

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond. May I offer you a drink?

LB: Thanks so much for hosting me! I’d love some Witches’ Brew!

BK: Awesome choice! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

LB: I’ve always been scribbling, since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I didn’t believe, until recently, that other people would want to read what I wrote. Fortunately, I’m no longer using crayons…at least, not to write with!

BK: Please tell us a little bit about your current release...

LB: My newest 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.

BK: What inspired this particular novel/book?

LB: 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.

Some of that curiosity lingered, and I always wanted to revisit it in a story. It popped back into my head when I was writing about a catastrophic contagion. Considering all the incredible self-sufficiency they apply in their everyday lives, it seemed to me that the Amish would be uniquely well-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster.

BK: How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

LB: I try to ask “what if” questions that I haven’t seen addressed before. It’s like daydreaming on paper.

BK: What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

LB: The hardest part for me in starting any story is the beginning. The blank page intimidates me like nothing else! For this book, I think I wrote the first line and stared at it for three days.

BK: Which character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?

LB: Katie is my favorite. 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.

BK: Tell us about the one scene you had the most fun writing…

LB: The easiest and most fun comes for me at the end. There’s more at stake at the end of the story, more action, more emotion. All the plot threads are beginning to weave together, and I feel like I’m running downhill. I forget that I’m writing and get the pleasure of watching the story unfold on its own.

So the resolution of THE HALLOWED ONES was my favorite thing to write. I wanted to both tie up the story and leave the possibility open for a sequel.

BK: Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series? OR If it is a series, what inspired it to become a series?

LB: I was totally open to having a sequel. When I finished with THE HALLOWED ONES, I didn’t feel as if I’d completely told Katie’s story…she’s going to evolve a lot more, and that needs another book!

BK: Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?

LB: I have a day job at a library, so I get the pleasure of being surrounded by all kinds of research materials and inspiration. When I get home, I do my best to keep a writing calendar and to commit to writing a certain number of words a day.

BK: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

LB: I collect Tarot cards and I’m owned by a herd of cats…those usually keep me pretty busy. My husband and I are also amateur astronomers.

BK: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

LB: I took bellydancing classes a couple of years ago. It was a lot of fun, and I still have some jingly coin belts hanging about the house that have survived being dragged around by the cats.

BK: What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

LB: I love all flavors of fantasy. 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.

BK: What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?

LB: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to set up a word count calendar and use it. It’s too easy to let the days and weeks slip by without anything productive happening. To that end, I really suggest that writers try National Novel Writing Month at least once. It got my excuses and blocks out of the way, and helped me learn that what I thought were my limits were not really limits. They were just walls I’d set up in my head.

BK: What are you currently working on?

LB: I’m working on the sequel to THE HALLOWED ONES, which will be called THE OUTSIDE. It’ll be released in September 2013.

BK: I'm so excited to know there will be more to come! Where can readers connect with you?

LB: My website is http://www.laurabickle.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, usually exclaiming over cute cat pictures.

BIO: Laura Bickle has worked in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks, she's dreaming up stories about monsters under the stairs. She’s authored four fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first teen novel.


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?

Excerpt: A free excerpt of THE HALLOWED ONES is available here: http://www.laurabickle.com/the-hallowed-ones/?action=excerpt

My Review:

Living in Pennsylvania, I am surrounded by Amish all the time. My husband also lived with them for a few years, but lucky for me he was never baptized into the Church. Needless to say, their community has always fancied me, and I love reading stories about their religious beliefs and how they live. I'm always asking "what-if" questions to my husband, but really never imagined an Amish story in the paranormal genre.

When The Hallowed Ones came across my desk, I didn't hesitate to jump on reviewing it. What can I say? I will give you four words...


Not only has Ms. Bickle done her research, she has crafted a story that will leave you wanting more and more. I was so glad to know that this wouldn't be the last. The Hallowed Ones will grab you from the first page, and keep you guessing the entire length of the story. I was constantly thinking outcomes, and let me be the first to admit that I was continually wrong! It was amazing, and a wonderful, original read!

Yes, we often think of these things happening in our world, but have you ever thought, "What if that were to happen in an Amish community?" I know I never thought about that and I write PNR! What made it all the better, is that my husband knows the Amish community, and probably got sick and tired of me asking questions, but Ms. Bickle made it so true to life, you will almost take it for real while you're reading it!

Kudos Laura Bickle! A job well done and one to be very proud of! I can't wait for the next book. I'm definitely a new fan :)

You guys are lucky! Laura is giving you a chance to win a copy of The Hallowed Ones! I know! AWESOME! She will send a copy to one winner as long as it can be shipped by The Book Depository.

You know the routine, leave a comment with your email address and answer this question...
Have you ever thought of Paranormal things happening in an Amish Community?


Laura Bickle said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today! And I'm THRILLED that you enjoyed THE HALLOWED ONES! :-D

Sullivan McPig said...

Not entering the giveaway. Just wanted to thank both if you for this great interview. And after seeing an episode of X-files that was about a sort of Amish community I have been fantasizing about paranormal things happening in an Amish community I will confess.

Unknown said...

Never really gave much thought to an Amish community and the paranormal until I read the synopsis for this book. I look forward to reading it!


Teddy Rose said...

Amish and paranormal, what an original concept! Great interview!

Unknown said...

Great interview as always! and your review made me want to read this NOW! lol