WITHOUT A TRACE...
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.
After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.
Hi everyone! Please welcome Anya Kalinczyk to Lovin' Me Some Romance. Anya is author Laura Bickle's awesome Urban Fantasy heroine from the Anya Kalinczyk novels. Let's see how many questions I can ask her before Sparky, Anya's endearing fire elemental familiar, destroys her computer. ;)
Anya! Thank you so much for visiting Lovin' Me Some Romance and giving me this chance to chat with you.
"Thank you so much for having me! And Sparky..." Anya struggles to hold Sparky the fire salamander on her lap. He squirms forward and tries to lick the webcam.
First, an obvious question but also one of the most interesting; you're a Lantern - an irresistible and deadly draw for spirits - what's that like? I mean, as if trying to make it in life couldn't get any harder you have this ability that makes you incredibly unique, so unique that it's almost isolating. How do you cope? What's the physical and mental effects?
"Being a Lantern is tough. It's hard to explain. Where other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, I devour them. It's as if I've swallowed a black hole, and the ghosts are consumed by it. I breath them in...it burns...and they're gone." Anya rubs a scar that peeks out of the collar of her blouse. "The scars eventually fade. It hurts me...but not as much as it hurts them.
"I wonder where they go...whether they stop existing, or whether they wind up in some kind of Afterworld. I don't like playing God like that, being responsible for snuffing out what was once a life.
"The other ghost hunters I work with don't see it that way. They don't think that the spirits are human. That they're just trash that needs to be taken to the curb. And I'm the garbage collector." She looks down at her hands. "I don't like being in that position. Nobody else understands.
"Once, I met another Lantern. He understood. But, now, he's gone. And there's just me."
As an arson investigator, your interactions with spirits can be helpful or they can just helpfully spin you in confusing circles. Does having an intimate relationship with a potential afterlife make death frightening? I say potential afterlife because you do think that there's something beyond this realm, right? Do you believe it's heaven?
"I know that we don't just stop existing, like a watch losing time when the batteries run down. I know that some spirits wander in an Afterworld. A psychopomp, Charon, who works at the county morgue. took me there, once.
"I know that there's an underworld. Not sure if there's a classical hell or heaven. But I know that adventures continue beyond this world. Sometimes forever."
Sparky, your salamander familiar is always up to crazy antics. He's protective and possessive but also just plain silly sometimes and I for one am completely enamored with him. You've mentioned that there's no one or thing you really need, not your career, not Brian (who we'll get to in a moment) but Sparky, he's one thing you couldn't live with out. What makes him so integral to your life as both a Lantern and as just plain Anya?
Sparky the fire salamander snuggles up to Anya and puts his head on her shoulder. She rubs his speckled back and smiles. "I've had Sparky ever since I can remember. My mother gave him to me as a protector. He slept in my crib with me then and at the foot of the bed now, with his favorite toy. It's a Glo-Worm.
"Besides my mother...he's the only unconditional love I've ever really had. He loves me whether I'm a Lantern or whether I'm just Anya. He's always been here, and always will be here."
You're extremely hesitant when it comes to personal relationships. Brian, he wants you and the man is incredibly patient hinting to the fact that you might just mean the world to him if you would just take that last leap of faith. What holds you back? Do you ever think of having a family of your own?
A smile flits across her lips. "I do love Brian. I love him because he's ordinary. He has no special powers. He can't see ghosts. He hasn't seen the Afterworld, the way that I've seen it."
The smile fades. "But I don't know that Brian can really understand and accept all that I am."
She looks down at Sparky. "I did recently become a mother...of sorts. Sparky here laid salamander eggs in my bathtub. For a short while, I was mom to dozens of ectoplasm-gobbling newts."
Anya blinks and looks up with a dazed expression. "Don't think that I could ever handle that again."
DAGR, Detroit Area Ghost Hunters, is a group of paranormal investigators you reluctantly assist on occasion. There's what, like six different ghost hunter shows on TV right now. What do you think of the recent public obsession with ghost hunters?
"I think people are really curious about what happens after death. That interest has been timeless...it reminds me of a lot of the interest in Spiritualism around the end of the nineteenth century. Ordinary folks would spend their Friday and Saturday evenings holding seances and table-tipping. That's really very similar to what goes on today."
Now, just a couple of the book questions and I'll let you go since by now it's probably becoming difficult to keep your computer hidden from Sparky. *wink* For one, what's it like working with Laura? Is she easy to talk with? Speaking of Sparky, does she get along with him?
"I like working with Laura. She's easy to talk to...I kind of suspect that she knows more about this stuff than she lets on. And Sparky loves her. She keeps a stash of electronic toys for him to play with when she's interviewing me."
Sparky swishes his tail.
"And Sparky loves her cats."
How do you handle having your personal life and adventures being published? Do the covers for EMBERS and SPARKS portray a good likeness?
And finally, what's your favorite book genre?
"My adventures are published as fiction...so I'm sure that no one thinks that they're real!" Anya winks.
"The covers are gorgeous. The artist, Chris McGrath, is really inspired...the covers look just like me.
"My favorite genre right now...arson investigation manuals." Anya spreads her hands open. "I'm sad to say that I haven't had much time for pleasure reading, in between chasing ghosts and arsonists.
"Thank you so much for having me for an interview. I had lots of fun!"
Sparky leans forward to lick the computer screen, and it goes black.
Well that's it folks! Looks like Sparky's cut us off but I think that was a satisfactory introduction to Anya and her electronics obsessed familiar. *wink*
I hope you all find a friend in Anya and check out her amazing adventures. Stay tuned for my review of SPARKS, book two in the Anya Kalinczyk series, later this week.
The awesome Laura Bickle is giving away one SIGNED set of the current Anya Kalinczyk releases, which includes EMBERS and SPARKS, to one lucky commenter. Here's how to enter:
**Contest Open to USA Only**
***Must be 18 or Older to Enter***
****Contest Closes Thursday, September 30th at Midnight U.S. Pacific Standard Time and the Winner will be Chosen Randomly and Announced Friday, October 1st****