Sara: How would you describe your novel, Dark Oracle, in three sentences or less, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?
Alayna: In Dark Oracle, Tara Sheridan swore off criminal profiling after narrowly escaping a serial killer who left her scarred for life. By combining Tarot card divination with her own intuition, she must help an intense federal agent find a missing scientist who has unlocked the destructive secrets of dark energy. The agent, Harry Li, draws her out of her self-imposed exile and back into the world.
Sara: How would you describe each of your main characters in one sentence?
Alayna: Tara was inspired by the Tarot card, Queen of Swords – she’s analytical, resolute, and knows about loss. Harry was patterned after the Knight of Pentacles – he’s practical, pragmatic, and action-oriented.
Sara: What sets your novel apart from the rest of the Urban Fantasy genre?
Alayna: Dark Oracle is a mashup of science and magic in equal parts. I balance the magic of Tara’s powers as an oracle with a plot that deals with dark energy and exploding particle accelerators. Dark Oracle should appeal to fans of the X-Files and Fringe.
Sara: Can we look forward to more books in Tara Sheridan’s world?
Alayna: I'm working on the sequel to Dark Oracle. It's called Rogue Oracle, and will be out in March 2011. In Rogue, Tara Sheridan and Harry Li are chasing a Chernobyl survivor who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market. Tara is coming to terms with her destiny as an oracle and rebelling against an ancient society of oracles of which her mother was a part.
Sara: Your knowledge of the Tarot really comes through while reading Dark Oracle. Do you actively practice or was it purely research?
Alayna: I’ve read Tarot cards since I was a teenager. The deck I learned on was Hanson-Roberts, a very gentle deck. I’ve never been a professional card reader. I mostly just use the cards to do readings for myself and friends... and as story prompts.
Sara: What research did you have to do in order to write about Dr. Magnusson’s research on dark energy and dark matter?
Alayna: That was all new to me. I spent a lot of time at my local metro library, reading introductory physics textbooks and looking up articles about existing particle accelerators. Interestingly enough, there was a scare about particle accelerators generating tiny black holes in our own world. That nugget let me build upon the idea that dark energy might be brought into our world for a short period of time.
Sara: Is there a reason for writing this series under a pen name besides the fact that its release was so close to Embers and the upcoming Sparks?
Alayna: That’s it exactly. My publisher didn’t want things to be confusing for readers, so Alayna Williams was hatched as a pseudonym for the Oracle books. Embers and Sparks were written as Laura Bickle.
Sara: Maggie the dog plays a big role in Dark Oracle for a pet, and Sparky really steals the spotlight at a couple points in Embers. Are animal companions important to you within your novels? In real life?
Alayna: Animals are very important to me –- I’m owned by four ex-feral cats, at the moment! Since animals are so intertwined within my own life, it felt normal for my characters to have pets and other animal companions in theirs.
Sparky was especially important for Anya in Embers. I wanted her to have some unconditional love in her life. When Sparky the fire salamander isn’t busy chewing her cell phone or setting fire to the microwave, he can be found cuddling up at the foot of her bed with his Glo-Worm toy.
Sara: Who are your greatest influences, both in and out of the Urban Fantasy genre?
Alayna: My greatest influence is my editor, Paula Guran at Juno Books. She gave me the chance and has taught me so much about the moving parts of how a story works.
Sara: What are you currently reading?
Alayna: I’ve got a lot of books on my nightstand at the moment... Ann Aguirre’s BLUE DIABLO, Linda Robertson’s HALLOWED CIRCLE, Jeri Smith-Ready’s SHADE, and Jessa Slade’s FORGED OF SHADOWS.
Thank you so much for the interview!
Feel free to leave comments and questions for Alayna! I'll be stopping by periodically after I get back from Ikea (it's time for another new bookcase).
And here's the more information about Dark Oracle for anyone interested:
TARA SHERIDAN HAS A GIFT... AND IT ALMOST KILLED HER.
As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi’s Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try.
Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man’s life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself -- from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within...