Friday, June 7, 2013

Laura Bickle

Character Interview by Laura Bickle

Character Interview with Sparky the Salamander

Let’s start with the basics. What’s your name?

My caretaker, Anya, has called me ‘Sparky’ since she was old enough to talk. I think it may be an homage to Sparky Anderson, but I’m not sure.

As a magickal familiar, I’ve gone through dozens and dozens of names, of course. I just humor whoever’s in charge. There was an alchemist one time that called me ‘Rover,’ and that annoyed the living crap out of me.

I can see where that would be insulting.

Hugely. I’m not a dog! And I refuse to fetch. That’s beneath me.

What ARE you, anyway? It doesn’t look like you’re from around here.

Fire salamanders haven’t gotten much press since Paracelsus’ time, but I’m an elemental avatar of fire. I usually take the form of a six-foot-long speckled hellbender salamander…when I’m not taking a nap in Anya’s necklace. Sort of an “I Dream of Jeannie” thing. The necklace is really cozy.

Fortunately, nobody except Anya and ghosts can see me. So that gives me a lot of room to make mischief. Like blowing up Anya’s microwave and frying cell phones.

Any favorite foods?

Electrical devices and ghosts are my favorite snacks…electricity and ectoplasm are DELISH. Poltergeists, in particular, taste like ice cream.

Tell me about your owner.

Nobody owns me! I stick around of my own volition, trust me. Anya needs it.

Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department during the day. By night, she’s a ghost hunter. She’s a Lantern, a medium who can see and devour ghosts. She jokes that it makes her a “bug zapper for ghosts,” but it’s a really painful gift.

She needs somebody to take care of her. I slept in her crib when she was a baby, and now I sleep at the foot of her bed. I keep the things that go bump in the night at bay when she’s sleeping. And with the things she’s seen, she doesn’t sleep well.

I hear you have a favorite toy.

Ummm….yeah. It’s a Glo Worm toy. I adore it because it lights up when I cuddle it.

And before you ask… NO, I am not afraid of the dark!

Tell me about the last time you really got in trouble.

Well, trouble and I are good friends. Anya and I get into a lot of scrapes with ghosts, demons, and other metaphysical creepy-crawlies. I thought we were seriously in trouble when she got possessed by a demon last year and started making even worse decisions than usual about men.

The last time I personally got into trouble…hmm. Well, I laid a bunch of salamander eggs in Anya’s bathtub. That little stunt necessitated a trip to the baby superstore to get provisions. And I might have accidentally-on-purpose caused a fire at the store. I was in the doghouse with that one for quite awhile.

Are you ever going to tell Anya what happened to her parents? And where her powers as a Lantern came from?

Nuh-uh. The girl has to solve her own mysteries.

And I’m off to snuggle with my Glo Worm. Good night, folks!

Good night, Sparky! Sleep tight, and don’t let the things that go bump in the night bite!

EMBERS Anya Kalinczyk #1 
Laura Bickle

Pocket Juno Books

ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010 

“One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give.”

—Elizabeth Bear on

“Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.”

—M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels 

“Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!”

—Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade

Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

EMBERS is available now from and Barnes & Noble.

Read an excerpt at

Anya Kalinczyk #2
Laura Bickle

Pocket Juno Books
ISBN 978-1439167687

September 2010

The second book in Bickle’s series about Anya Kalinczyk is just as wonderful as the first—Anya is a compelling and likable protagonist and Bickle does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the city of Detroit; there are ruins, yes, but also hope in the ashes. Anya never takes herself too seriously and there is a scene in a baby supercenter that is absolutely not to be missed. (4 stars)

- RT Book Reviews

...a charming and inventive read.

-Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, December 2010

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

SPARKS is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt at

About the Author:

Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy nov-els for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.

For more about Laura, please visit her website at:

She’s also at Facebook


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for hosting me today, Cloey! I really appreciate it. *hugs*

  2. Hi Laura,

    Your books look great I have them added to my TBR list and I can't wait to read them!

    Have a great day,

  3. Thank you! I hope that you have a great day, too! :-)