Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. (She also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.) Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats. THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. The latest updates on her work are available at http://www.laurabickle.com/.
Tell me about THE HALLOWED ONES.
My newest 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.
What drove you to write THE HALLOWED ONES?
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. So, you could say it’s been simmering for a while.
Some of that curiosity lingered, and I always wanted to revisit it in a story. It popped back into my head when I was writing about a catastrophic contagion. Considering all the incredible self-sufficiency they apply in their everyday lives, it seemed to me that the Amish would be uniquely well-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster.
What were your biggest obstacles?
I’m one of those writers who needs the structure of a synopsis and outlining. I’ve always yearned to be someone who can just put pen to page have the words sprout…but I can’t do it that way. I need a scaffolding to begin, a skeleton on which to build some story-flesh.
And I think that’s true for most writers. Learning our own processes takes a really long time. What’s efficient and works for me won’t work for the next person. It’s such an individualized process, and there’s no one “right” way to do it. The important thing is that you’re doing it.
What are your productivity tips?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to set up a word count calendar and use it. It’s too easy to let the days and weeks slip by without anything productive happening. I keep a writing calendar and commit to writing a certain number of words a day. Otherwise, I tend to procrastinate. If I didn’t set deadlines for myself, I would never finish a book
I really suggest that writers try National Novel Writing Month at least once. It got my excuses and blocks out of the way, and helped me learn that what I thought were my limits were not really limits. They were just walls I’d set up in my head.