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The Last List Blog Hop: Interview with Ilsa J. Bick, Author, THE DICKENS MIRROR + Giveaway

The-Last-List-BH

I was so sad to hear the news that EgmontUSA would be closing its doors. Of course the more recent news that Lerner Publishing Group would be acquiring Egmont’s list of almost 100 children’s, middle grade and YA titles (source: Publisher’s Weekly) made me happier.

And when I learned what Cuddlebuggery was doing to support some of these fantastic authors with The Last List Blog Hop I just had to join in.

Isle Royale

And I am absolutely thrilled to host Author Ilsa J. Bick for a Q&A in anticipation of the upcoming release of THE DICKENS MIRROR, the second – and final – book in her Dark Passages series. I love, love, LOVE her answers – what she had to say about her editor at Egmont, how she describes the series, which moment in THE DICKENS MIRROR was her favorite, and which of Stephen King’s writings was her favorite. Although, after reading one of her answers I am now dying to read what she wrote about Devil’s Island.

Anyway… I am also stoked to be able to offer up a couple of copies of the book for giveaway. So if you’d like the chance to win one, just enter in the Rafflecopter a bit further down in the post.


About THE DICKENS MIRROR

DICKENS new two a color copy

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: THE DICKENS MIRROR (Dark Passages #2)
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Release date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 576
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Description…

Critically acclaimed author of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick takes her new Dark Passages series to an alternative Victorian London where Emma Lindsay continues to wade through blurred realities now that she has lost everything: her way, her reality, her friends. In this London, Emma will find alternative versions of her friends from the White Space and even Arthur Conan Doyle.

Emma Lindsay finds herself with nowhere to go, no place to call home. Her friends are dead. Eric, the perfect boy she wrote into being, and his brother, Casey, are lost to the Dark Passages. With no way of knowing where she belongs, she commands the cynosure, a beacon and lens that allows for safe passage between the Many Worlds, to put her where she might find her friends—find Eric—again. What she never anticipated was waking up in the body of Little Lizzie, all grown up—or that, in this alternative London, Elizabeth McDermott is mad.

In this London, Tony and Rima are “rats,” teens who gather the dead to be used for fuel. Their friend, Bode, is an attendant at Bedlam, where Elizabeth has been committed after being rescued by Arthur Conan Doyle, a drug-addicted constable.

Tormented by the voices of all the many characters based on her, all Elizabeth wants is to get rid of the pieces under her skin once and for all. While professing to treat Elizabeth, her physician, Dr. Kramer, has actually drugged her to allow Emma—who’s blinked to this London before—to emerge as the dominant personality…because Kramer has plans. Elizabeth is the key to finding and accessing the Dickens Mirror.

But Elizabeth is dying, and if Emma can’t find a way out, everyone as they exist in this London, as well as the twelve-year-old version of herself and the shadows—what remains of Eric, Casey, and Rima that she pulled with her from the Dark Passages—will die with her.

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The Interview

Me and the Killer Rabbit

Q&A with Ilsa J. Bick

Q. If you had to describe your Dark Passages series in 25 words or less how would you describe it?

What happens if you’re not real but maybe a character penned by Wisconsin’s Most Famous Crazy Dead Writer, and you’ve fallen between the lines into White Space?

Okay, that’s twenty-seven words.  I did the best I could.  Still, you get the gist.

Q. What can readers expect in THE DICKENS MIRROR, the second installment in the series?

Oh, gosh, that’s so hard to distill if you’ve not read the first story. At the risk of sounding like a cop-out, it’s probably best for me to simply steal the book’s blurb (part of which I helped to write, so it’s not completely out of bounds). Just ignore the “critically-acclaimed” stuff; I sure didn’t write that.

Critically acclaimed author of The ASHES Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick takes her new Dark Passages series to an alternative Victorian London where Emma Lindsay continues to wade through blurred realities now that she has lost everything: her way, her reality, her friends. In this London, Emma will find alternative versions of her friends from the White Space and even Arthur Conan Doyle.

Emma Lindsay finds herself with nowhere to go, no place to call home. Her friends are dead. Eric, the perfect boy she wrote into being, and his brother, Casey, are lost to the Dark Passages. With no way of knowing where she belongs, she commands the cynosure, a beacon and lens that allows for safe passage between the Many Worlds, to put her where she might find her friends–find Eric–again. What she never anticipated was waking up in the body of Little Lizzie, all grown up–or that, in this alternative London, Elizabeth McDermott is mad.

In this London, Tony and Rima are “rats,” teens who gather the dead to be used for fuel. Their friend, Bode, is an attendant at Bedlam, where Elizabeth has been committed after being rescued by Arthur Conan Doyle, a drug-addicted constable.

Tormented by the voices of all the many characters based on her, all Elizabeth wants is to get rid of the pieces under her skin once and for all. While professing to treat Elizabeth, her physician, Dr. Kramer, has actually drugged her to allow Emma–who’s blinked to this London before–to emerge as the dominant personality . . . because Kramer has plans. Elizabeth is the key to finding and accessing the Dickens Mirror.

But Elizabeth is dying, and if Emma can’t find a way out, everyone as they exist in this London, as well as the twelve-year-old version of herself and the shadows–what remains of Eric, Casey, and Rima that she pulled with her from the Dark Passages–will die with her.

Q. If you had to choose one moment, quote, passage or scene that was your favorite to write in THE DICKENS MIRROR, what would it be and why?

I know this will sound hokey, but the moment that Emma/Elizabeth says to little Emma (her 12-year-old self), “Honey, you’re going home.”

I don’t know why, but there’s just something about everyone banding together to help this little kid get back where she belongs that makes me choke up every time.

Q. What have you most enjoyed about working with EgmontUSA to publish this series and your Ashes Trilogy?

So much! First off, they understood exactly what I was getting at with this particular series without my needing to explain a single thing. They just got it. My editor was incredibly supportive and meticulous in his criticisms, too, which was great because I really felt with both series that he was working hard to make sure the words just leapt from the page: that they shone. What I loved, too, was that not once did anyone suggest that I ought to cut something or whatever; no one fretted about length. All they cared about was the story, and in fact, my editor wanted me to put back all this stuff I’d edited out of Shadows (I think it was; one of the ASHES books) because he felt the words were all important. For them, they were all about story.

Of course, this is all bittersweet, given what’s happened with EgmontUSA, but I remember my editor and I scheming on ways to make WHITE SPACE’s debut even more interesting, so people would understand what I was trying to do—the ways in which I was playing with narrative and reality—more easily. But, alas, he left, and then all those ideas left with him, and things kind of started unraveling from there.

But, for as long as they could be, everyone at Egmont was just tremendous with their support.

Q. You’ve written for a long-running science fiction series, penned short stories, standalone novels, and your own series. Which has been your favorite? Your most challenging? And/or what are the pros and cons of each?

Oh, I think anything I’m working on that I believe in and love . . . that’s my favorite book and I’m having a good time.

In terms of all the different venues in which I’ve worked, what I’ve learned is probably what people already know but maybe don’t articulate: every form has its own structure and demands. I was once on a panel when that question was asked, and this other sf/f writer said it best: short stories are about effect (think Ray Bradbury), while novels are for both effect and arcs (or character development). You have more room in a story to follow more complex ideas, which is a luxury you simply don’t have in a short story. That doesn’t mean that a short story can’t be complicated, but you’re aiming for a denouement in a relatively few number of words, which means that every word just really has to count. You have to weave in enough details very quickly to give your character some dimension and an inner life, and then get to the point, move the story along and keep it moving.

What you also learn is how to kill your babies—all those words you think you just can’t bear to part with—because not every word is golden nor deserves to live simply because you wrote it.

Was it challenging to do work-for-hire in a universe that I wasn’t as well versed in? Sure; I mean, I knew nothing about Mechwarrior Dark Age before I started. But there were sourcebooks and helpful editors and fans that were great for tracking down effluvia and arcane facts. The pros of doing work-for-hire are . . . a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of world-building has been done for you. The cons are . . . that same heavy lifting because you can never really violate the universe’s rules. You can bend them, and I certainly did, but that’s all at the pleasure of your editor. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with editors who want to help me deform that envelope as much as possible.

Q. To those who haven’t yet read one of your novels, how would you describe your writing and stories?

Dark, edgy, frequently ambiguous, and definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

Q. Do you find that living near a cemetery influences or impacts your writing?

Nope.  I mean, everywhere you live influences what your write, and I’m much more affected by weather. But my proximity to the cemetery does mean that I really do keep tabs on who’s being planted when. I actually used the cemetery in my short story, “Where the Bodies Are,” and was thrilled when Crimewave jumped on it right away.

Q. Will there be a follow-up to THE DICKENS MIRROR or was this a planned duology?

Nope.  I mean, I would’ve been happy to do a trilogy, but my editor, again, must’ve been prescient because he wanted me to wrap it up in two books. Maybe he had an inkling something was in the wind because if I’d done a trilogy . . . well, I don’t know if the third book would’ve come out. As a result, though, DICKENS MIRROR is both packed and radically different from what I originally envisioned. That alternative London was just supposed to be a way station, not the setting for the denouement. The book was eventually supposed to end up on Devil’s Island in Lake Superior (but an alternative to what’s “real”). I have reams of pages and scenes—reams—set there that I couldn’t use. We’re talking hundreds of pages.  But . . . <shrug> . . . that’s the way it goes.

Q. Having your writing compared to Stephen King’s has to be pretty awesome. Are you a fan of his? And if so, what is your favorite story that he’s written and why is it a favorite?

Oh my, yes. Even when his books and stories stink—and he’s written some real clunkers—he’s still better than a whole slew of other people. He knows how to tell a story really well. Now you may not care about the story or find it kind of derivative, but you can’t deny his craft.

I still think that Secret Window, Secret Garden is a masterwork. The first time I listened to that (James Woods does this terrific narration), I was thoroughly sucked in and then stunned at the denouement. I remember thinking, Wait, wait a minute, King didn’t play fair. Then I went back and dissected that story and figured out, well . . . that he had and from the very third line. But he’s just so good that unless you’re paying close attention you won’t see all the clues. I think I’ve probably listened and read that story at least ten or twelve times. It’s just that well-crafted.


About Ilsa J. Bick

BickIMG_1483

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, surgeon wannabe, former Air Force major, and now an award-winning author of dozens of short stories and novels, including her critically acclaimed ASHES Trilogy, Draw the DarkDrowning Instinct, and The Sin-Eater’s Confession. WHITE SPACE, the first volume of her Dark Passages horror/fantasy duology, is currently long-listed for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a YA Novel. The sequel, THE DICKENS MIRROR, will hit shelves on March 10, 2015.

Ilsa lives with her long-suffering husband and other furry creatures  near a Hebrew cemetery in rural Wisconsin. One thing she loves about the neighbors: they’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon.

Drop by her website, www.ilsajbick.com, for her Sundays’ cake and Friday’s cocktail recipes as well as other assorted maunderings; or find her on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter (@ilsajbick), or Instagram (@ilsajbick).


Other Books in the Series

White_Space

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: WHITE SPACE (Dark Passages #1)
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Release date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 560
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Currently available in eBook format for $1.99 at AMAZON and B&N and $1.23 at BAM

Description…

In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real.

Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.

AMAZON | AMAZON.CA | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S | BOOKS-A-MILLION | BIGGER BOOKS | eCAMPUS | HALF.COM | ABEBOOKS | AUDIBLE

Note: On some sites the paperback edition is listed separately and therefore not linked above.


The Giveaway

I’m offering up for giveaway a copy of THE DICKENS MIRROR to TWO winners

  • Must be 13 or older to enter
  • Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships
  • There will be TWO winners
  • Prize will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
  • Giveaway is open until March 9th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
  • Winners will be chosen by Random via Rafflecopter
  • Winners will be announced in the Rafflecopter and contacted by email
  • Winners will have 72 hours to respond with their detail or another winner(s) will be chosen

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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