It’s been a while since the lovely Laura Bickle stopped by the blog, so when she agreed to answer a few questions about her upcoming book, The Hallowed Ones, I was thrilled! Please welcome Laura to the blog, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway info too!
Laura, it’s been more than a year (!! ) since you visited the blog, and your new book, The Hallowed Ones is out next week! What inspired the book? Will you tell us a bit about it?
Thanks so much for having me back!
My September 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.
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.
Amish life is fascinating and probably a bit of a mystery to quite a few people. What are some of the most fascinating things you found out while researching The Hallowed Ones?
I had a lot of fun doing research. One of the things that I found most fascinating was that church services are held every other Sunday at different families’ homes. There is no actual church building. There’s often a trailer with church pews loaded on it, and every family goes into the rotation to host services. That gave me much of the inspiration for the entire Amish settlement in my story becoming holy ground.
The Hallowed Ones is your first young adult novel. Was it tough to make that shift?
I always have a lot of fun writing fantasy. I love asking those ‘what if’ questions and building worlds around the answers.
The funny part about THE HALLOWED ONES is that I didn’t set out to make it YA. It just came out that way…I knew that I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a young Amish woman who was dealing with issues of conformity and autonomy. I was completely unaware that it was YA until I turned it in to my agent.
I’m thrilled to be in the YA world now that I’m here! Everyone has been very friendly and I’m super-excited to meet new readers.
If someone wanted to learn more about Amish life, are there any particular books you’d recommend?
Stevick’s GROWING UP AMISH: THE TEENAGE YEARS is excellent. So is Hurst and McConnell’s AN AMISH PARADOX. Butterfield’s DRIVING THE AMISH was also very helpful, from the perspective of an English man who works closely with the Amish.
PBS has some excellent material online for their film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: THE AMISH. Some of that material can be found here.
On a personal note, what are you reading right now?
I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s THE CREATIVE HABIT. It’s a great book about how to just get over oneself and make something – whether it’s dance, writing, music, or visual art.
What makes you want to put a book aside in frustration?
Mostly, if it’s something I’ve seen before, I put it down. When I’m reading for pleasure, I want to see something I haven’t thought about before.
Any recent titles that have just blown you away?
I adore FEVER by Lauren DeStefano. Her voice is so incredibly powerful – I can’t wait for the third book in the Chemical Garden trilogy. Both WITHER and FEVER were books that lingered with me for a long time after I finished – I love it when a story takes up real estate in my head and haunts me like that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’m finishing up on line edits for the sequel to THE HALLOWED ONES, and should have a title soon.
And we just adopted a new cat. He’s a sixteen-pound grey stray who turned up on our doorstep. We’ve named him Gibby, and we’re busily trying to socialize him to the rest of the herd. He’s living in my office at the moment…and he’s fascinated by typing. Slow going, with a cat on my lap and paws slapping my fingers on the keyboard.
Keep up with Laura: Website | Twitter
Read an excerpt of THE HALLOWED ONES
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 Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?
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