One of the most chilling novels I’ve read in a long time, ASHES was an instant PJV fave and a best read of 2011. It is a great honor to welcome back Ilsa Bick to the blog with a great interview and a giveaway.
Welcome back to the PJV Ms. Bick, as usual a great pleasure to have you!
Thanks for inviting me to the party!
Well, I guess I’m both proud and pretty bummed. If you think about it, this trilogy is the culmination of a big story that I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the time and space to explore. But it’s also really, really tough turning the page and moving on. This story’s been a huge part of my life for nearly four years, and it’s been wonderful to watch these kids grow in ways that took me completely by surprise. I also used up enough Kleenex on this last book that I should’ve bought stock in Proctor and Gamble.
So while I’m thrilled . . . I’m also bummed beyond belief to say good-bye. I still toy with ideas for a fourth book; I even know what it would be about. But you have to know when to let things go. If that book just must come out, it will.
In the meantime, I’m really glad I’ve got another series coming out. Fills the void, and now I have new characters to torture.
The title MONSTERS is rather scary, especially since you are known for your grisly descriptions and portrayals. Should I be worried? Is it going to be intense?
Yes, and yes. ‘Nuff said.
I know you put a lot of science into your writing, what type of science inspired The Changed? Could something like this really happen?
Being kind of a science geek, I keep track of things that freak me out, especially those situations in which the world goes dark and spins out of control—and an EMP attack scares the bejesus out of me. About ten years ago, Congress generated a report detailing the devastating consequences of just such a scenario and concluded that the United States had no adequate defense—and neither did anyone else. As recently as the past couple of years, newspapers have profiled what might happen if the world’s hit with solar super-storms or terrorist A-bombs. The reality is that, if these fears are realized, civilization will collapse, and very quickly.
Yet not many people know about or even understand what e-bombs or EMPs are. Let’s put it this way: one e-bomb, detonated at the right altitude over the right spot, might take out all of North America in a heartbeat. No more communications, no power, no computers, no nothing. And e-bombs are easy to make. All that’s required is a delivery system—and the will to make it happen.
And who knows what will really happen to people exposed to a huge burst of EMPs? As the line goes, we’re all just a bunch of fancy copper-tops.
Alex is by-far one of my favorite characters in young adult fiction, is she based off of someone you know?
Well, thanks! But, no, not really, although I’ve known a lot of very brave, tough kids with cancer. Their resilience can surprise you; in some ways, they cope better than adults. I guess you could say that Alex is someone I’d like to believe I might be in that situation: someone capable enough to just keep picking herself up again.
How do you create the characters for your book?
Oh, gosh, I don’t know. They just happen. I don’t mean to be cute or coy; it’s just that I’m not exactly sure. I just do. It’s not really something I think out in terms of, okay, now I need a guy and here I’ve got to get me a girl . . . nothing like that. The only time I’ve EVER done something so very conscious like that was when I created Ellie. She wasn’t in the original story at all, but then I’d written, maybe, a quarter of the book and I didn’t like what was going on with Alex. I mean, without Ellie, all you’ve got is a freaked-out teenager with a brain tumor and a Glock. I’m not entirely sure that Alex would’ve gotten herself down that mountain if she hadn’t been forced to think about taking care of someone else. Keeping Ellie alive (and not slapping the kid silly) became her mission. Ellie forced Alex to come out of herself and her own problems, and I think that made Alex a much more interesting and believable character, at least to me 😉
Do you believe in happily-ever-afters? I’m still worried about Alex and Tom!
I’m sorry, but I’m a Freudian and we all believe the glass is half-empty. Sad, but true.
Is there anything new on the horizon that we should be excited about?
You bet. Next February, WHITE SPACE, the first book in my new, two-part Dark Passages series, will be coming out from Egmont USA. I’m currently working on the sequel, THE DICKENS MIRROR. And then I’ve got a new stand-alone that’s half done I’ve got to finish, and another series—the first book of which is also halfway completed—begging to be written.
Thank you for your time!
Pleasure is mine!
Finished copy of MONSTERS for US Residents only!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I’m supposed to write things like, “Ilsa J. Bick is .” Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I’m not in the room. Helloooo, I’m right here . . . So let’s just say that I’m a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.