Monday, September 17, 2012

The Hallowed Ones Tour Stop

The Hallowed Ones
Laura Bickle
Publication date: September 25th 2012
 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

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?

Today I have the lovely Laura Bickle on the blog for an interview to talk about her book The Hallowed Ones, which is a vampire/post apocalyptic novel based in an Amish setting. So far it has gotten very positive reviews for my fellow Goodreaders and I'm planning on reading it soon to give you my thoughts on it as well, but in the meantime, let's see what Laura has to say!

Interview with Laura Bickle
Q. Can you tell us a bit about how The Hallowed Ones came about?
     I was thinking about what would happen if the end of the world came…I know this is a common thing to think about on an everyday basis! But that’s part of the fun in being a writer. I get to think about odd things.

I was wondering who would be best-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster. It occurred to me that the Amish would be uniquely equipped to survive. They are incredibly self-sufficient and are not dependent upon things we take for granted in our world, things like electricity and cars.

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.

Q. How much research did you have to do on the Amish?
     I spent some time 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. Many of the ideas were very foreign to me. For example, the Amish do not wish to be connected to the outside world, so power lines, phone lines, and electricity are not used. That kind of voluntary isolation is fascinating to me. The only parallel I can draw in my own life is when storms came through our area and we were without phone, cable, electricity, and internet for a week. It was very still and very peaceful.

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. 

Q. Why did you decide to write a book with an Amish setting? It's very unique in the vampire/apocalypse genre.
     Thank you! I mostly wanted to give it a try because I hadn’t seen it before. In its way, the idea made sense to me, and I wanted to experiment with it. If it failed, I could just bury the manuscript in a shoebox under my bed. But it was too tempting not to try.

Q. What was your favorite part to write in this novel?
     The first line: “After the end of the Outside world, the Plain folk survived.”

Q. Would you survive if you were a character in your story?
     I think that would depend on the setting in which I found myself when the end of the world came. If I was trapped in a city, probably not. The competition to survive and fight over resources would probably be too fierce.

But if I was in a rural area, as the Amish are…I think I might have a shot. There would be more stuff to forage and fewer threats.

Q. What book would you recommend to all your readers?
     I love 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.

Thanks so much for dropping by the blog, Laura. I agree, the Amish would have a really good chance of surviving in such a world since they're not so dependent on technology. I, on the other hand, would perish O_O I also enjoyed Fever, too!

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 five mostly-reformed feral cats. THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. 

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