GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview with author Alayna Williams + giveaway! | I Smell Sheep

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with author Alayna Williams + giveaway!

Today the Sheep welcome UF author Alayna Williams to the site! If you have yet to check out her amazing books NOW would be a great time to start. Truly a wonderful mix of fantasy, mystery and magic! Stay tuned till the end folks because Alayna has been kind enough to offer up a signed copy of her latest book Rogue Oracle!

Russia. Chernobyl. 2 Sheep and 1 Oracle meet.

Katie: Hello Alayna, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. For those that don't know about your latest book Rogue Oracle can you tell them a bit about it?

Alayna: Thanks so much for chatting with me today! I'm super-excited to get the chance to talk with you and your readers.

ROGUE ORACLE is about a criminal profiler, Tara Sheridan, who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. These books are a mashup of science and magic - similar to Fringe and the X-Files. Tara's a reluctant member of an ancient society of oracles tracing their lineage back to the Oracle of Delphi. In ROGUE ORACLE, Tara and her skeptic partner, federal agent Harry Li, are on the trail of a Chernobyl survivor who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market.

Katie: So would you say that your mainly a fan of shows like Fringe and X-Files?

Alayna: I love contemporary sci-fi. Shows like Fringe and X-Files are my all-time favorites.

Amber: You classify yourself as an Urban Fantasy writer; can you tell us what is the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal?

Alayna: I've always been taught that the difference between UF and PNR lies in how much the plot focuses on the romantic elements. For PNR, the primary conflict in the story surrounds the relationship, while UF focuses more on an external conflict. There also tend to be more happily ever after endings in paranormal romance. I like having the endings open, and to keep myself guessing about whether or not the characters will or will not be victorious.

Katie: You also write under the pseudonym of Laura Bickle, I have yet to start those books but I am very curious about the stories and why you chose to write under a different name?

Alayna: My editor recommended that I use a different pseudonym for the ORACLE books. My first book, EMBERS, came out in April, 2010, under my Laura Bickle pseudonym. The books I've written as Laura, EMBERS and SPARKS, are best described as "Ghostbusters in Detroit with dragons and arson."

DARK ORACLE was scheduled for June of that year, with ROGUE ORACLE coming out in 2011. We thought it would be confusing for readers to have two UF series going on under the same name, with alternating release dates. For that purpose, it made sense to create "Alayna." In that sense, it was a branding decision.

Both series are urban fantasy. But a little different. EMBERS and SPARKS are very much gritty urban fantasy, while the ORACLE books almost border on science fiction

Amber: What is your favorite childhood memory?

Alayna: My mom was a school librarian. I used to go to the library with her in the summer and curl up in a sunshine-filled corner where the mythology books were shelved. I read every book in that section, I think.

Amber: As a kid that’s how I spent all of my summers. I made my mom sign me up for every library event/class that was available. Lol. My sisters always called me a geek. It’s a name I proudly claim. Lol.

Alayna: Geek sisters unite! Books make wonderful friends. I think I've had my nose in a book ever since I was old enough to hold one.

Katie: What is a typical day like for you?

Alayna: I suspect my days are very much like those of other writers...I still have a day job. I'm fortunate in that I get to work at a library (the apple didn't fall far from that tree). Most of my writing gets done late at night, when the cats and husband are asleep and everything is quiet. Sometimes, the dreaded Inner Editor goes to sleep, and then I really get things done.

Amber: Did you go to college? If yes, what was the most interesting class you took?

Alayna: I'm an odd duck. I went to college for criminology and also library science. Probably the most interesting classes that I took involved spending time riding around with cops.

Amber: That’s awesome! What was the most exciting thing that happened while riding around with the cops? And where any of them especially good looking in their uniforms?

Alayna: Hee. Of course, there were some good-looking ones!

Probably the saddest thing that happened when I was out riding around was coming up on a single-car accident. The car had been abandoned, but there were a lot of kids' toys in the car. I was sure that they were missing them.

Katie: Tarot cards play a big role in the Oracle novels, are you personally able to read cards?

Alayna: I read cards for myself for fun and use them for story prompts. The ORACLE books were written with a deck at hand. Whenever I got stuck on a character or plot point, I'd pick a card. Some of the spreads I used made their way into the final version of the book. It was a fun way to visually outline a story, since there's a Hero's Journey already included in the cards.

Katie: I would love to have you do a reading for me after the interview! I hope you see vampires in my future! lol

Alayna: Sure! I'd be happy to give it a shot. Fair warning - I'm not a professional, so expect entirely random and nonsensical results for entertainment only.

And the reading will probably be interrupted by a random cat parking herself in the middle of the cards. My feline friends are highly amused by my efforts.

Amber: Where did you learn to read Tarot cards?

Alayna: I've been puttering with cards since I was a teenager. Like many other things, I learned from books and by doing readings for myself.

Amber: If you could own your dream car what would it be and why?

Alayna: Oh, my. I'd love to have a new car that doesn't need new tires.

But in the world of EMBERS and SPARKS, the heroine, Anya, drives a 1974 Dodge Dart. It's a big green tank. She got it because her fire salamander familiar, Sparky, tends to screw up electronic gadgetry.

I guess that would be my dream car, because it would make me think of fire elementals on the rampage.

Katie: Harry and Tara have had this on again off again thing going on for a while now. Will they ever finally be together permanently?

Alayna: Harry and Tara are polar opposites: he's Scully to Tara's Mulder. But I think that they understand and respect each other on a very deep level. And that's the most important contributing factor to a "happily ever after" ending. Even in books.

So, yes...I would love for them to be together, and have more adventures. But I will still throw obstacles in their path. ;-)

Katie: Oh blast it! lol I am waiting for the day when these two really settle down.

Alayna: Hee. They won't be far apart, don't worry! They are pretty destined to be together. ;-)

Amber: I know you write under at least two different names; do you have a specific series or character that is your favorite?

Alayna: I don't know that I can really play favorites; they're all my children.

I love Sparky the fire salamander from EMBERS and SPARKS because he's a composite of all the pets I've owned. I love Tara from the ORACLE books because she's a very rational heroine, in her way - she always considers a situation before going in with guns blazing.

ROGUE ORACLE is my newest release, and the latest apple in my eye. A lot of the story deals with the outcome of the Chernobyl disaster. Though I was half a world away, the story of that frightened me very much as a child. This was a tough book to write, but very rewarding.

Katie: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Alayna: I've always been scrawling stories, every since I've been old enough to hold a crayon. It still seems a bit surreal to be able to see my work in print. It was a long road, but I'm thrilled to be on it. I'm excited that other people want to read what I've's the best feeling in the world.

Amber: Who has been your biggest inspiration when it comes to your writing career and life in general?

Alayna: I read Robin McKinley's HERO AND THE CROWN when I was a kid, and it really made an indelible impression on me. It was the first fantasy I'd read in which the heroine slew her own dragons. It opened up a whole world of possibilities for me.

Katie: If you could be any Superhero who would you want to be and why?

Alayna: Wonder Woman. I have an insanely out-of-control Wonder Woman knick knack collection. She's got it all: power, beauty, strength, and wisdom.

Katie: As a Marvel fan, I will respect your choice and say no more. *evil laugh*

Alayna: Will you forgive me if I tell you that I dress up as Phoenix for Halloween?

Katie: YES! lol

Amber: What is your movie and food of choice on a lazy night?

Alanya: Pasta and chocolate. And maybe a movie of some supernatural flavor. One of my perennial favorites is CONSTANTINE. I also saw HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and fell in love with Toothless the dragon.

Amber: You are a woman after my own heart! Carbs and chocolate are the best. My movie of choice is either Love Actually (cuz we all need a little sap in our lives, lol) or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Katie: As Forest Gump’s Mamma said "life is like a box of chocolates…" what kind of chocolate would you say you are?

Alanya: Vanilla creme. Quiet, hanging out demurely in the corner of the box.

Amber: What is the best part of being a writer?

Alayna: I've always been intrigued by the idea of a hidden supernatural world existing beneath our own. Writing allows me to explore the "what if's": What if a criminal profiler turned to Tarot card divination? What if the Oracle of Delphi survived into the modern day...and what would they have been up to? What if the future could be told through the use of magic...and how would we try to change what we saw?

And the most fun part is getting to research those ideas. Writing gives me an excuse to dig through theories on everything from alchemy to spontaneous human combustion.

Amber: The idea of a hidden supernatural world is what makes reading such an escape for me. I love all the possibilities that are presented when reading. It’s an entirely new world. Thank you for creating worlds like this for people like me! Lol.

Alayna: Thank YOU for reading and coming along the journey with me!

I firmly believe that creating a world requires both a writer and a reader - it's a collaborative process.

Katie: Where can folks find you in the coming months?

Alayna: I just got back from RWA Nationals in New York, which was my big trip for the year. My internet whereabouts are here:

Katie: Now it's time to move into our ever loved Rapid Fire round! Clear your mind and answer with the first thing that pops up. Are you ready?…….Set……GO!

Katie: Hershey Syrup or Nesquik powder

Alayna: Oooh. Hershey Syrup!

Amber: Kitten or Puppy

Alayna: Kitten

Katie: Throwing Stars or Throwing Knifes

Alayna: Knives. I've never tried stars!

Katie: I have a very fine set of throwing knifes we can play with after we wrap. *winks*

Alayna: Awesome!

Amber: Europe or Asia

Alayna: Europe

Katie: Monkey or Koala

Alayna: Koala

Amber: Lipstick or Lipgloss

Alayna: Lipstick

Katie: Coke or Pepsi

Alayna: Coke

Katie: Yes! More points for team Coke!!!!

Amber: You can have this one. Team Pepsi is still smokin your behind! Hahahaha ;)

Alayna: Coca-Cola is the breakfast of champions.

Amber: Thunderstorm or Sunshine

Alayna: Sunshine

Katie: Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood

Alayna: Little Red Riding Hood

Amber: Zoo or Aquarium

Alayna: Zoo

Katie: The Borg or Vulcans

Alayna: Vulcans

Katie: Live long and prosper!

Alayna: Love the new Spock from the Star Trek reboot - glad to see that he got the girl!

Katie: Silver or Gold

Alayna: Silver

Katie: I swear other then the DC choice it's like we got separated at birth! lol

Alayna: LMAO!

Katie: Quantum Leap or Knight Rider

Alayna: Knight Rider

Katie: Harrison Ford or Sean Connery

Alayna: Harrison Ford

Amber: What? You’re crazy! The sound of Sean Connery’s voice alone makes him the clear winner…. I’d marry this man as long as he promised to read me a story every night before bed! Lol.

Alayna: But...Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones! That hat!

Katie: Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us Alayna, would you like to add anything before we wrap?

Alayna: The latest news on releases and what I'm working on is on my website:

Thanks so much for the chance to chat with you both! I had a lot of fun.

While Alayna gets our Tarot card reading all set up we'll move on to the giveaway! One lucky commenter is going to walk away with a signed copy of Rogue Oracle AND some fun Sheep swag items. Make sure to double your chances of winning by following our blog! In the comments below please give us:

1. Your Email Address

2. Have you ever had a Tarot card reading? If so what did it say and if not would you ever consider getting one?

Contest runs until July 31st at midnight.

Good luck!


  1. Email:
    No, I've never had a Tarot card reading and Yes, I'd consider having one.
    Thanks for doing the giveaway and thanks for the great interview! Yes I am a Sheep blog follower.

  2. Yes I have and it said that I am where I am meant to be for the time being.


    would love to win the book thx for the awesome giveaway

  3. wow, what a great interview guys! :) She sounds like such an awesome person (except that Coke thing, just saying..)

    I had a tarot reading when I was in collage at a yearly arts festival. It said I would fall in love, get married and be with him for the rest of my life. Celebrating 19 years in Aug ;)

  4. I have never had a Tarot reading but I would love to get one! I think it would be fun to see if what they say is true or comes true, whichever the case may be.

    Thanks for an awesome giveaway:)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  5. I forgot to mention that I am a GFC follower :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  6. I've never gotten a tarot reading done. At the Renaissance festival a bunch of my friends were getting readings, but it was expensive and I just didn't want to do it.
    GFC follower.

  7. thanks for the contest and the interview ! I haven't ever had a tarot card reading yet, but i think it would be interesting to try one day, i would be very curious to know what the cards would say about me.

    I'm a gfc follower

  8. Not entering the giveaway, but had to drp by to cheer Alayna/Laura on: Great interview as always! *hugs*

  9. Nice interview. I had a Tarot card reading a few years ago, totally freaked me out, lol so I don't know if I want to get another one, I'll have to think about it.
    GFC follower: liss125


    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Awesome giveaway! I've actually never had a tarot card reading, my future predicted, or anything like that. I think it would be fun though : ) thanks for the great giveaway!

    - Monica (email in profile)

  11. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Katie and Amber!

    Thanks for stopping in, Theresa!

    Anna, it sounds like a good Tarot reading. :-)

    Sharon, I hope I can be forgiven for the Coke thing. It's a bad vice, I know. ;-) Congrats on 19 years with your husband!

    Julie, readings can be a lot of fun. I usually take notes for just that reason!

    Julie S, I get my cards read every year at Ren Fest. It's very relaxed and low pressure.

    Melliane, thanks for entering!

    Hugs and thanks to Sullivan! :-)

    Lissette, sorry that you had a bad reading! Doesn't sound like much fun.

  12. Thanks for entering, Monica! I appreciate you stopping by. :-)

  13. I've never had a Tarot card reading but I've always wanted to get one done. I've read about them in so many books. They sound fun for the most part (nobody wants to get a bad reading) Great interview!

    GFC follower

    rootml1 AT hotmail DOT com

  14. I've had a few readings before, first reading was a bad one..was told my first child was going to be a boy, my husband was told his first was going to be a girl O_O

    Had a few good readings also.

    Thanks for the giveaway also :)
    GFC follower


  15. Hi, Megan and Danielle!

    I usually have good luck with readings - have yet to have one that was scary or bad. But I try just to have my cards read just once a year...I think that doing it more often would make it harder to keep track of the details! :-S

  16. I had a Tarot reading in the past and even tried to see if I had the aptitude to read the cards, but the time and discipline did not stay with me, maybe someday it may be my time. I don't know what I felt about the reading, it was not sweetness and light and I had to remind myself that it is meant to be a guide and not predestination :) Thank you for sharing about this wonderful series (both of them) I will be checking them out. Alayna sounds like a fun person and I would enjoy reading her work.

    GFC follower


  17. Hi Alayna - I'm an Urban Fantasy fan and glad to hear about your books. Excited to find someone else who read The Hero and the Crown. I loved The Blue Sword too.

    I do my own Tarot readings and have had some great experiences with them. I think it has a lot to do with energy and connecting with your inner self. I use the Gilded Tarot deck by Ciro Marchetti, but I collect others just to look at - so many of them have exquisite artwork.

  18. Thanks, Denise!

    Learning to read the cards does take a lot of time and experimentation. I've been playing with them for almost twenty years, and there's still a LOT that I'm still learning.

    Hi, Dani! I loved THE BLUE SWORD, too! Great to meet another Robin McKinley fan!

    I collect decks, too. I don't have the Gilded Tarot, but I've seen pictures. It's gorgeous!

    I have a lot of favorites, but I always return to the deck I learned on, Hanson-Roberts. It feels like an old friend. :-)

  19. Super fun interview! You are right about Toothless because he is an adorable dragon. :) Tarot reading? I had an online reading...once long ago, but I can't remember anything it said. I'd do one again. Your books sound fantastic!

  20. Sorry...forgot my email!

  21. Great, fun interview, ladies! :)

  22. Thanks, Nora! Toothless is my favorite. He's just soooo...catlike!

    Thanks for stopping by, Nissie!


    Oh yeah, I have several decks. The ones I do start out pretty accurate, the past and present portions are usually on the money but after that they fade away into nonsense. I guess I'm not meant to forecast the future, LOL! My mother does scarily accurate ones, though. The creepiest one was she did a one card reading and got a card warning of flat tires (I'd have to look it up in the book to see which one it is) and we all laughed about it. later that day - boom - I had a flat tire. Usually her readings come true in twisted ways, though. Think of the Monkey's Paw story and you've got it, so I avoid her readings now. All in all, though, I think tarot cards are a lot of fun!

  24. I would totally consider getting one. It's always fun to know what might be present in my future.

    +1 I'm one of the Sheep!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  25. Great interview. I have never had a Tarot Card reading. I always wanted to have one, but where I live tarot readers are non-existent. :(

    I am a follower on facebook

    truebloodfan [at] rock [dot] com

  26. No, I've never had a Tarot card reading, but would love to have one. thanks for the giveaway

  27. Joleene, I'm impressed by your mom's abilities! I wish mine could tell me when I'm going to get a flat!

    Hi, Aik! Lovely to meet another one of the Sheep! *hugs*

    AmyS., there are a few where I live, but I'm usually content to wait until Ren Fest - it's become part of my annual tradition.

    Thanks for stopping by, mbreakfield! :-)

  28. Nope, I've never had a Tarot card reading, but would love to have one.

    I'm a follower on GFC-Lisa Richards


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  29. No, I've never had a tarot reading. there is someone in town who frequently has a $5 sign up so I have been tempted just for fun.

    I did not know Alayna and Laura were the same author and I've read all the books in both series to date. I think I like the bigger supporting cast in Embers/Sparks more.

    GFFC Anne38

  30. Thanks for the interview and cool giveaway, those were fun questions/answers ^^
    I've never had a reading but I would consider it.

    eveningreen AT gmail DOT com

  31. The interview is officially closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment, we hope you will all check out Alayna's work. It's worth it!

    The winner for this contest is: Lissette Martinez!

    You will be contacted by email and will have 7 days to respond or we will pick a new winner.

  32. Thank you so much!! I'm so happy ;)