Thursday, October 7, 2010

Devil's Night Terrors with Laura Bickle

Detroit’s a city lush with storytelling possibilities. The landscape provides so many real-world places with history behind them that made Detroit an irresistible setting for EMBERS and SPARKS. Given the heroine’s ties to fire as an arson investigator and the owner of a fire salamander familiar, Detroit was a natural choice as a location. It’s got a history of fires going back to the one that leveled the city in 1805, right up to Devil’s Night arsons in the twentieth century.

Devil's Night was traditionally the night before Halloween, October 30. In the 1930s, it began as general mischief, but escalated to arson and serious crime by the 1970s. From the 1970s through the 1990s, hundreds of arsons and vandalisms were reported each year on the days surrounding Devil's Night.

The crimes prompted the organization of Angel's Night in 1995. In 1995, more than 30,000 volunteers patrolled the city. Devil's Night crime began to decline from then to the present day.

In 2009, groups such as Blight Busters and New York's Guardian Angels gathered volunteers to patrol Detroit's neighborhoods, concerned that the economic downturn that has struck the city will fuel more crime. The real estate crisis has left thousands of homes abandoned, which may be fuel for further arsons for opportunistic or insurance fraud purposes.

I'm hopeful that history will remain just that - history - and that there will be a quiet night this year. Fire makes wonderful fodder for fiction, in terms of fire salamanders and dragons...but no one wants to see it come to life.

Laura Bickle is an urban fantasy writer, tech nerd, and feral cat rancher. She’s the author of Embers and Sparks for Pocket-Juno Books in 2010.

More information is available at

If you've read Sparks already you should check out this article and photo slide show of the Michigan Central Depot- the same train depot featured in Sparks.


Roxanne Rhoads said...

My mom's birthday is Oct 30 so she's a Devil's Night baby but the woman is a saint- everyone says the mischief passed from her to me (her only child).

I say "the evil" really passed onto my youngest. His nickname is Satan.

Living in Michigan my entire life has made Devil's night something that I know about all too well but since I'm in Flint the fires haven't been as bad.

We used to keep watch to make sure no one pulled any pranks but the last couple years we've kicked back to enjoy the season and celebrate my mom's birthday with dinner, presents, cake...and pumpkin carving.

Laura Bickle said...

I hope that you and your mom have a wonderful celebration this year, with plenty of cake, pumpkins...and no mischief. For you or your youngest. :-)