Bookin' It Reviews, in cooperation with Bewitching Blog Tours, welcomes Laura Bickle here to share with us her Anya Kalinczyk series with titles Embers & Sparks already released. If you like sassy and exciting characters with a story to tell then get ready to meet Anya. She's on heroine you will not easily forget!
Laura Bickle (a.k.a Alayna Williams) has worked in libraries, criminology, and technology for several years. She lives in the Midwestern U.S. with her chief muse, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: www.salamanderstales.com
By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department. By night, she chases restless spirits with a motley group of ghost hunters. Her faithful familiar is a salamander, Sparky, a fire elemental who takes the shape of a five-foot-long speckled hellbender. Sparky can't speak, but he has learned to type, and he's been corralled to talk to readers today for the first time about his history as a familiar in the world of EMBERS and SPARKS:
First thing I want you all to understand: Nobody ever controls a familiar.
Yeah, yeah, - I know the schtick. Every witch and wizard who's ever existed thinks they can call up a familiar to do their bidding. Sometimes, they think they can bind us to bits of jewelry or idols, like genies in bottles. Other times, they think we're willing servitors, running magical errands hither and yon, fetching and carrying just for giggles.
The truth is a lot stranger than those little fictions humanity has believed for thousands of years. The German magician, Paracelsus, called fire spirits "salamanders" in the sixteenth century. Salamanders were long associated with fire, despite our amphibious nature, because they crawled out of forest logs cast on fires. The salamander was assumed to dwell in fire, and embodied the impetuosity, power, and destructive changeability of the flickering flame.
And he got the whole thing started. Paracelsus was pretty much a poser. Didn't accomplish too much of that turning base metals into gold, except when I helped him. And then, well...his head got huuuge. I finally got annoyed with him, took off, and heard that he died of a really bad foot fungus. Heh.
Paracelsus wasn't the only guy who tried to control me. I spent some time hanging out with Van Helsing when he was a young man. Vampires don't care much for fire, and we had some excellent fun in Eastern Europe. Vamps tend to go up like burned marshmallows. Good times, those.
But I really enjoy working with the ladies.
Joan of Arc was one of my favorites. I whispered in her ear for years. She had a terribly tragic end - tried to save her. Sigh.
But there were some good things that were born in those fires that killed her...more salamanders. Newts. Dozens of 'em. I chose Joan because she had a certain power. The world had really worn her down, truth be told. She wasn't as naive and hopeful as history would lead you to believe. But she reached down and found a strength within her to change the future.
And I see a lot of that in my new keeper, Anya. She's different from Joan. She's what they call a Lantern - the rarest kind of spiritual medium. Where other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya devours them. It's a terrible power, one that she hates. A lonely one.
But it's a necessary power. One that the world needs. And as long as she wields it, I'll stick with her. So she knows something of love. Even if it's just from an elemental spirit.
Even if it's from one she can't control. She’ll get used to it – they all do.
Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
“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 Tor.com
“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.
Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
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
WITHOUT A TRACE...
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.
Thank you for sharing here today Ms. Bickle!
I am without a doubt adding this series to my 2012 must-read list!