Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ilsa Bick Interview - Author of Ashes

So I'm trying something new. I had an email interview with Ilsa Bick (through Goodreads). The book review of Ashes should be out sometime next week. I had a couple of questions for her and thought others might also be interested as well. If you have more questions for the author, let me know.

       Interview with Ilsa Bick

Ilsa Bick (IB) - I'm glad you're enjoying the book so far. Just remember: when you get to the last page and feel like reaching through the computer screen to do me some serious bodily harm . . . it's the first of a trilogy. ;-) 
Just sayin'. 

No . . . stop that . . . no fair jumping to the end. 

(Me) - First of all, so far I'm on page 113... were you a poet in a former life? You have out-of-this-world descriptions that writers would sell their soul for.
(IB) - A poet? Moi? No, not really. I wrote a lot of very bad poetry--epic and otherwise--when I was a teenager, trying to channel Sylvia Plath, but then I remembered how badly all that turned out for her and cut it out. ;-) 

(Me) - How did you come up with the idea for the book Ashes?
(IB) - The short answer: I'd read a couple dystopias and post-apocalyptics, and while they were pretty good, I thought people were way too well-behaved (for one). For another, the scenarios made no sense. Tons of dystopias never really address how things went so far south so quickly, and the ones who do usually pull out things like viruses, plagues . . . and, oh, did I mention, viruses? So I wanted to do something different, try a scientifically plausible premise that I hadn't seen done yet (I mean, let's face; who doesn't want to blow up the world every now and again), and try to make sense of the aftermath and show people at their absolute worst. Honestly, I think people will be pretty horrible to one another very quickly. As a society, we've grown so insular--dependent on all our gadgetry and electronics--that when that suddenly grinds to halt, society will break down fast. All you have to do is look at various disasters--Katrina jumps to mind--to know that. Sure, you'll have the odd humanitarian . . . but altruism usually goes out the window when your life's at stake and if you think about it, the truly heroic people, the ones who would die to save someone else, never pass on those traits to anyone else because, well, they're dead. That kind of heroism is an evolutionary dead-end, and I'm not the first person to say that.

(Me)I'm only guessing based on a photo on your website, and the knowledge in this book, that you are an outdoorsy type. Do you hike? 
(IB) - I go wherever the hiking is good. That particular photo was taken in Glacier last year, but all through medical school, I routinely hiked the Shenandoahs and Blue Ridge as a way of letting off steam. When we lived in the Northeast, we'd hike all over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New York state. Now that we're in the Midwest, we hike either the Ice Age Trail or, better yet, head north for the Upper Peninsula. One of the best trips I've taken in recent memory was to circumnavigate Lake Superior (drive/hike/sleep; drive/hike/sleep). Great fun. Hiking around Tasmania was another. Really, I'll go wherever. 

A little known factoid: In medical school, there was one, very torturous hike I'd suggest to potential boyfriends. If they perished before the top, tough noogies. Whoever nade it without whining--and a couple did, including my future husband--got cheese, crackers, fruit, chocolate, and a shared a bottle of wine for their troubles. It was an equitable trade ;-) 

(Me) - Is there something unique you do to get yourself motivated to write on those days you feel like watching TV or surfing the web?
(IB) Not really, I guess. I'm a pretty driven person and very regimented, and I was in the military, and those guys thrive on schedules. You also really can't get through medical school and residency if you don't have a good work ethic. My husband is only half-joking when he tells people that I used to make out a schedule every day, with activities timed down to the minute. In fact, if I'm not working, I get very antsy. Are there days when I feel like avoiding the computer? Oh, yeah. But then if I DO that, I feel so much worse that night that I never repeat the experiment.

(Me) What is the strangest thing a fan has ever said/asked your? 
(IB) - Ooohh . . . hmmm . . . well, as a shrink, I've heard a lot of strange things, so nothing really surprises me anymore. I guess it's a toss-up between being asked if I would ever eat anyone (not so strange, actually, given that the book's about survival) and the seventh-grader who once asked for my phone number. I was, like, dude, I don't give out personal information like that. His response was something like, well, you can't blame a guy for trying. And I'm thinking: trying what? Just what do you imagine would happen? Then I figured he wasn't my patient and to leave well enough alone ;-)

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