Monday, September 2, 2013

Guest Blog: The Outside by Laura Bickle

UFI welcomes Laura Bickle Author of The Hallowed Ones Series. Thanks for Joining us!!

An Amish Heroine in the Apocalypse
By Laura Bickle

I live not too far from a large Amish settlement, one that I visited often as a child. I used to see the Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder how their lives were different from mine. I admired how strong and self-sufficient they seemed. It later occurred to me that these traits, combined with their incredibly strong sense of community, could make the Amish uniquely equipped to survive certain types of disasters. In THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE, I explore how the Amish would survive a plague of vampires that devastates the world.

I thought it would be interesting to view this disaster through the lens of a young woman. When I was developing Katie, the heroine of THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE, I wanted her to have many of the qualities I saw in the Amish community. She’s very strong, in a quiet and enduring way. She values her community, loves her family, and isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty.

But I also wanted to give her some challenges. Katie longs to see what’s on the other side of the fence, to experience life in the outside world. She wants to experiment with jeans, makeup, and movies on her Rumspringa. Rumspringa is the time in Amish life when young adults can dabble in the outside world before choosing to commit to the Amish church for life. Her community feels a bit too small, and she’s curious to experience the world beyond.

That’s one of Katie’s chief internal struggles, one I think that we all can relate to. We all have to decide to what degree we’ll balance the duty of being a citizen in a community with our individual desires. Katie comes from a world where the collective is very important, but she is a teenager, and has the desire to define who she is for herself.

In an ordinary world, Katie would have the luxury of time to resolve these issues. But the outside world has come to Katie, and in a way that’s not what she imagined. Contagious vampirism has overtaken civilization. The world beyond Katie’s community has gone dark and silent. There are no cars on the road, no radio signals, no lights in the distance, no telephone. Bloodthirsty vampires have devoured humankind, leaving only shells of houses and empty cars behind.

Katie is exiled from her community, shunned for defying the new rules of survival. She must find a way to survive a horrific new landscape with only her two outsider friends and a horse. Together, they seek answers and other survivors on an empty road that seems to lead to nowhere.

As much as Katie has searched for her own individualism, she ultimately wants to the road to lead her back home, to return to her family and community. But she fears that there will be no home to return to, that her settlement will fall into darkness. In her nightmares, she returns to a place of burned houses and empty roads, with no chance for reconciliation.

For a young woman like Katie, that can be the greatest devastation imaginable, greater than any individual pain or loss.

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.

Find Laura and her books

The Outside
The Hollowed Ones #2

BN   Amazon Print   Amazon Kindle   IndieBound 
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?