I don’t think I need to provide much of a intro here since I think we all know how much I loved this author’s first book in her new YA series, The Hallowed Ones. Laura Bickle impressed me with her strong, young heroine, Katie, and a peek into a world I knew little about, the Amish. Throw in some vampires and I was a happy reader! You can read more about my love of this book here and here. And, without further ado, please welcome Laura Bickle to the blog!
SWR: Can you tell us a bit about The Hallowed Ones as a series? Where did you get the inspiration for combining vampires and the Amish?
My latest releases are a pair of YA thrillers. My agent describes them as Witness meets 28 Days Later, which was a lot of fun to noodle around!
The first book in the series is THE HALLOWED ONES. 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.
I live not too far from a large Amish settlement, one that I visited often as a child. I used to see the Amish girls my age and wonder how their lives were different from mine. I admired how strong and self-sufficient they seemed. It later occurred to me that these traits, combined with their incredibly strong sense of community, could make the Amish uniquely equipped to survive certain types of disasters, such as the vampire apocalypse that devastates the world in THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE.
SWR: I was a huge fan of the first book, The Hallowed Ones. What can readers expect in this second installment, The Outside?
Thanks so much! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it!
Katie has been exiled from her Amish community for failing to follow the new rules of survival. As the title to THE OUTSIDE suggests, Katie must confront the devastation in the world beyond her community. Her chief challenges will be her own survival and protecting those she loves from a plague of vampires.
SWR: One of my favorite aspects of the series is your heroine, Katie. She is such a smart, thoughtful, and purposeful heroine. How did you conceive of Katie and what (or who) were your inspirations?
When I began writing Katie, the main character in THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE, I set out to write a protagonist who was a product of her Amish community. She’s grown up in a close-knit settlement, surrounded by friends and family. Katie has something of a rebellious streak, as she always questions the rules. Obedience is not her strong suit, and this gets her into trouble.
SWR: How much research did you do on Amish faith and customs before starting the series?
There was a good deal of research involved. In addition to 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.
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.
SWR: I also really appreciated this science vs. faith argument that is threaded throughout. What came first in creating this world – the science or the faith?
The faith portion came first – it’s an integral component of Katie’s personality, and I wanted to watch her take it apart and reconstruct it as she grows up. The science part serves to challenge her world view and provide an alternative explanation. There’s no established truth in the story, and I like the nebulousness of it.
SWR: Miramax calls and they want to adapt the series for the big screen. Who would you want cast as Katie and Alex?
After I pick myself off the floor, right? Hee. There would also have to be a victory lap around the house with “We Are the Champions” played at top volume.
Ahem. Sorry. Got lost there, for a moment.
I don’t have any specific actors in mind. I’d love to see some unknowns in the roles to see what they might do with the characters without any expectations placed on big-name personalities.
SWR: How many books do you have planned for the series and when can we expect the next release?
I think that Katie’s story has come full circle, and that everything that I’ve meant to say with these characters is done. I never say “never,” but I feel that this book closes the series.
SWR: What was the last book you read that you would recommend to a friend?
I’m reading Yangsze Choo’s THE GHOST BRIDE right now – it’s absolutely luminous, and I’d recommend it to anyone.
SWR: Tell us about your upcoming projects.
Both THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE will be available as audio books from Audible.com very soon!
And I’ll have a short story, “From Dust,” appearing in HALLOWEEN: MAGIC, MYSTERY, AND THE MACABRE, coming out later this month. It’s about a young woman facing her family’s magical bargain with the forces of nature during the Dust Bowl.
SWR: Finally, I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire series in which every family has a motto – the Starks have “Winter is coming” and the Lannisters have “Hear me roar!” What’s the Laura Bickle motto?
Hmm! This is a tough one (and I love GoT, as well!). I think I’d have to go with: “Auuuuuggghhhh!” It seems to be the first word out of my mouth whenever something great or rotten happens, so I’ll go with that. It sounds sort of like a fierce battle cry, right?
SWR: Thank you so much for the interview!
Thank you so much for the chance to chat with you and your readers! I really appreciate it!
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?