Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Q&A with author Laura Bickle, author of Nine of Stars

Now available from Harper Voyager is the contemporary fantasy Nine of Stars: A Wildlands Novel by Laura Bickle.

The author has taken a few minutes out of her busy schedule for a Q&A about her newest novel.

When did you become interested in storytelling?

I’ve always been scribbling, ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I didn’t believe, until a few years ago, that other people would want to read what I wrote. It’s incredibly exciting to hear from folks who’ve enjoyed the stories I tell.

What was your first book/story published?

The first book I wrote was an urban fantasy, EMBERS, through Pocket Books in 2010. It could be summed up as “Ghostbusters in Detroit with dragons and arson.” Since then, I’ve written in both contemporary fantasy and YA, but always about the monsters hiding under the stairs.

What inspired you to write Nine of Stars?

Several years ago, my husband and I took a trip to the Yellowstone area of Wyoming. The landscape was larger-than-life and perfectly magical…I knew I had to write a story in the vein of a contemporary weird western. Once I started asking the questions, the story came quickly: What if an alchemist founded a town here a century and a half ago? What happened to his failed experiments? What creatures might still lurk in the shadows?

What character in Nine of Stars is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

I identify with Petra, the protagonist, a good deal. She’s an ordinary woman thrust into magical surroundings, a skeptic and a scientist. Though she’s the daughter of an alchemist, I made her deliberately nonmagical.

I gave Petra a mysterious coyote sidekick, Sig. I’ve always had animals in my life, and I really wanted Petra to experience that special kind of companionship. However, Sig is much more than a pet or a companion animal; it’s speculated that he might be a bit of the Coyote deity with a capital “C,” hanging around earth in a fur-suit. I don’t think Petra’s figured that out, yet.

What is your favorite part in Nine of Stars?

As a former library worker, research is one of my favorite parts of writing. I’m happiest when I create a problem for my characters to solve – the bigger, the better.

Petra’s not much of a fighter, so she must think her way out of trouble. I got to do some fun research about the best way to burn a snowmobile at hot enough temperatures to cast bullets to fight Skinflint Jack, a ghostlike being hunting wolves in the backcountry of Yellowstone.

What was the hardest part to write?

Beginnings are always difficult for me. Even though I always begin a book with a loose outline, there’s something that’s really intimidating about staring at a blank page. Every fear I have about not being able to create a story that hangs together is at its worst then.

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

I’d be a veterinarian. We have six semi-reformed feral cats we’ve convinced to move indoors. I’d love to be a vet so that I could do more to help the ones who wander into the garden. It seems like every time I open the back door, there’s a new pair of ears peeking out over the catmint.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Once I’ve written a book and it’s gone through editing and production, it’s really flown the nest. By the time a book is released, it’s been out of my hands for a long time, sometimes for as long as a year. I can’t go back and make changes. So I cross my fingers and hope that it sprouts wings, that readers enjoy it!

What well-known writers do you admire most?

I loved Kij Johnson’s FUDOKI. The main character is Kagaya-hime, a cat who becomes a warrior-woman while traveling the spirit road in feudal Japan. I loved seeing that world through non-human eyes!

Do you have any other books/stories in the works?

I’m working on the sequel to NINE OF STARS right now. It’s called WITCH CREEK, and I’m hip-deep in the nuts and bolts of putting it together. I’ve got a stack of books on my desk for research on alchemy and legends of the Yellowstone area. There’s a map tacked up over my desk to keep my timeline in check.

I know that I’ve hit creative flow when I start plotting in my sleep. I wake up, scribble things down, and immediately forget them. In the morning, I’m left trying to decipher my cryptic scribbles. Last night, there was something about mermaids…

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About the Author: Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at www.laurabickle.com.

You can follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the chance to chat with you! I appreciate it. :-)


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