Monday, 21 February 2011

Mining Old Fears in Fiction by Alayna Williams + Giveaway

Banner made by Beth from Maybe Tomorrow?
Today I welcome at Ex Libris one of the kindest and friendliest authors I’ve come to know this past year: Laura Bickle (aka Alayna Williams)!
I first became aware of Laura’s novels because of their eyecatching, beautiful covers. Look, aren’t they mesmerizing?
Embers  Sparks 
Dark Oracle  Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle, Book 2)
And let me tell you Laura’s evocative and heartfelt writing is equally spellbinding. She creates such unique and completely captivating universes that while reading her stories you feel you are in the novel, walking alongside the heroine and taking part in the action.
I could go on tiring you with my enthusiasm and love for Laura’s writing and novels, but I’d rather let her do the talking; make sure to check out her urban fantasy novels and you can even win Laura’s latest release penned as Alayna Williams: Rogue Oracle below.

Mining Old Fears in Fiction
by Alayna Williams

Every once in awhile, I think it's good to go rooting around in the dirt of my fears for story fodder. We all have things that scare us and tend to linger. Maybe it's a childhood terror, a phobia, a bit of something inexplicable that boils up once in blue moon in a recurring dream. Every so often, I take my shovel to the forgotten stuff in the back of my brain and see what I can unearth.

One of my childhood fears was Chernobyl. I was in middle school when the news reports began to filter in that something terrible had happened in Europe...that a Soviet reactor had melted down, breached containment in fire and invisible poison. The Ukraine seemed a thousand worlds away. And I was less than a bystander, an ordinary kid on an ordinary street in the U.S. 

But something about the story captivated and frightened me. Partially, I think it was because I grew up in a very industrial area, in the shadow of many chemical plants. Everyone's father had, at one time or another, returned home in the middle of the night in a plastic moon suit, scrubbed red, without the boots, wallet, and lunchbox he'd left with. It was scary. We couldn't see or smell or taste anything different when we threw our arms around our dads. But our mothers worried about the invisible. About cancer.

I remember seeing some pictures of Chernobyl on the news, of an industrial plant not quite so different than those plants that surrounded us. And seeing fire. And the rumors about plumes of poison moving over Europe, unstoppably.

It made me shudder. My mother turned off the television when we were in the room.

But the story of Chernobyl - of the people who died immediately in the fire, those who died after of horrible cancers, of secrets and something invisible that could kill more effectively than an army - it seemed to seep into the minds of the adults. I remember that my class was shown a film about radiation in the school library. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember that it was pretty graphic. It talked a lot about Hiroshima. Poisoned radioactive organs in jars. A man in a perfectly pristine white T-shirt who was covered in radiation burns. Almost a supernatural horror - more terrifying than the books about the making of classic Dracula and Frankenstein movies that we were reading.

It did give me nightmares. And I think many of the other kids.

But, like most other things in childhood, the memory of that fear faded. We grew up, didn't think about the half-life of cesium or whether potatoes could be cultivated in earth a half a world away. We forgot, went to work in the same plants our fathers did, whether for a summer or years after.

I forgot, too. The vicarious memory of it was buried somewhere in my subconscious, and I had no cause to go anywhere near it. It was not part of my everyday life. I went to work every day and preoccupied myself with more proximate fears, like crime and work, and bills and the well being of the stray cat on my doorstep.

But I think a bit of that fear remained to dig around in. I was working on the ORACLE series, and using Tarot cards as story prompts. I was developing the idea for ROGUE ORACLE, plucking cards at random. I kept picking the Tower over and over...the Tower depicts a tall, dark structure against the night sky. Lightning strikes it and destroys it, sending two figures falling to earth. The symbolism of the card is about the end of things - a paradigm shift, the destruction of all that came before.
Something about that flash of light, the fire in the darkness, and the monolithic structure reminded me of that long-buried fear of Chernobyl. It never impacted the physicality of my life, so far away, but it did lodge in my consciousness. I began to research what had happened since then, to that long-forgotten place.
I saw pictures of beautiful land that had been overtaken by nature, by wolves and grass. Photos of rusted cars and helicopters. Articles about the children in hospitals affected by rare cancers, years and years beyond the event. Birds making nests in open seams in the Sarcophagus, the containment structure over the reactor. That, in my mind, was the Tower. In my bystander's head, it became a deeply powerful supernatural entity - something that had the power to reach through time and continue to affect generations of people.

And, because it scared me, I had to write about it.


Alayna Wiliams (a.k.a. Laura Bickle) has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, 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.

Embers  Sparks

Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

Dark Oracle  Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle, Book 2)

More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle, Book 2)The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.

Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams - suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

ROGUE ORACLE is available now from and Barnes and Noble.


Alayna kindly offered a copy of her latest release: Rogue Oracle to a lucky commentator.

Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle, Book 2)
To be entered all you have to do is:

1. fill out the main form so I have your contact info (just once, if you have already filled it out for a previous giveaway that's enough)

2. Share with us one of your fears or what you were afraid of when you were a child.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on Friday 4 March 2011.

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