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 plaguing 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, the 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.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away three copies of Sparks.
There are some places in the real world that have just stuck with me as I write, and have managed to work their way into my fictional worlds. These places have their own magic, their own special gravity that pulls pieces of stories around them.
When I was a child, I visited Serpent Mound with my grandfather. It’s the largest effigy mound in the U.S., shaped like a serpent swallowing an egg. The serpent coils over a preternaturally-silent meadow that smells like sunshine and fresh-cut grass. No one really knows what it was used for, and I always wondered. In my stories as an adult, it became the burial ground for a dragon in Embers, haunted by a ghostly woman who keeps guard to make sure the dragon sleeps.
The Detroit Salt Mine, which was closed down for a period of time, is another such magical place. Stretching for miles beneath the city, it’s a series of glittering caverns. You can taste the salt and feel it crunching underfoot. It made the perfect lair for another sleeping dragon in my books.
The Detroit Museum of Arts captured my imagination. DIA houses a piece of the Ishtar Gate, and the tiles show an image of a Babylonian dragon-like creature called a Sirrush. This artifact inspired the idea that Anya has a piece of the mythological goddess, Ishtar, within her. It also gave me a name for the dragon sleeping in the Salt Mine. The giant dragon, the granddaddy of all fire elementals, became a Sirrush in the world of Embers.
Michigan Central Station stands as a ruined hulk in Detroit, a husk of a building with broken out windows overlooking debris and unused train tracks. But you can still see its bones, how beautiful it was when it was built, when it stood in a city that was called “The Paris of the East.” Despite the graffiti inside and the lack of electricity, it’s easy to imagine it as I did, as a way station for traveling spirits in Sparks.
What magical places in the real world have you written or read about? Are there some that inhabit larger amounts of real estate in your head than others, places that are absolutely unforgettable?
Laura Bickle is the author of Embers and Sparks from Pocket-Juno Books. Laura Bickle has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. More information on her work can be found at www.salamanderstales.com.
TRUTH BURNS. Unemployment, despair, anger–visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.
Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya–who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern–suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil’s Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya–with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team –can stop it.
Anya’s accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she’s risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she’s ever faced.
Want to purchase Laura’s novels?
Contest Time! Laura has graciously offered to give away three copies of Sparks. All you have to do is answer this one question: What magical places in the real world have you written or read about? Are there some that inhabit larger amounts of real estate in your head than others, places that are absolutely unforgettable?
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
- +10 Purchase any of Laura’s novels (listed above) or any novel through LE’s Amazon store or the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries.
There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.