Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick; Author Interview

Drowning InstinctDrowning Instinct 
Release Date: February 28th, 2013
Publishers: Quercus
Format: Paperback 
Pages:  345
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

Jenna is sweet sixteen, the age when a girl is supposed to find her prince.

Instead she finds Mr Anderson – intelligent, handsome, married Mr Anderson, who just happens to be her chemistry teacher. With a dark past and a difficult family, Jenna is just happy to have someone to protect her, to worry about her, to love her.

But should she be suspicious of Mr Anderson’s reputation for helping ‘damaged’ students? 

Why is the most popular girl in school suddenly jealous of her? And where is Mr Anderson’s wife?

This is a love story that breaks all the rules, but that won’t stop it breaking your heart.

Ilsa J. BickAuthor Interview with Ilsa J. Bick 

1) When did you first start writing?
Well, my writing life had two phases, and I think, honestly, if anyone’s to blame, it’s Captain Kirk.  More specifically, blame his chest.  Seriously, back when Star Trek first aired . . . we were talking some luscious beefcake.  I mean, that guy must’ve lost his shirt every episode that first season.  (And this is all before Captain Kirk became Jabba the Hut, you understand.)

So I developed this . . . well, the polite word is interest in Star Trek that eventually translated into a broader love of science fiction.  I used to dream up all sorts of adventures.  You know, very Mary Sue: I was beautiful, had super-powers, saved the Enterprise on a regular basis, and of course, everyone was completely in love with me.  Well, except Spock.  But that was fine; he never floated my boat either.  Me being the faithful Mary Sue that I was . . . I only dabbled with McCoy and Scotty a tiny bit.  Really, not much at all, and I don’t care what Uhura says.  She was just jealous.  

Other than truly awful epic poetry, I never wrote a lick of fiction in my teens.  Just wasn’t encouraged much by anyone because I was destined to be a doctor, don’t you know.  It wasn’t until my child psychiatry fellowship that I started writing nonfiction, mostly applied psychoanalysis and film.  That happened because I tend to get bored pretty easily and while medicine was challenging, I felt there was something . . . missing.  So I went back to school at night and got a Masters in Liberal Studies, with an emphasis in film and literature.  Mainly, I just liked watching movies and was still pretty obsessed with Star Trek.  I really wanted to understand, beefcake aside, why that show got under my skin.  So, I used all that great psychoanalytic training I’d gotten and started writing papers for conferences, film journals, psychoanalytic meetings and publications, stuff like that.  Published a ton.  Presented a ton.  Even wrote a pretty good paper on Star Trek, presented that at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for their 1991 retrospective on the series, and got to within a hair’s breadth of William Shatner.  I’m serious.  Unfortunately, he was unimpressed, which kind of sucked.  On the other hand, I decided that, really, he was a tad too old.  Oh, and already married.  Me, too.  Still . . . it was fun while it lasted.

The jump to fiction happened maybe . . . five, six years later?  Honestly, I started writing stories and then novels because a) my husband dared me to try and b) I’d always wanted to write a Star Trek novel.  Eventually, after six justifiably unpublished novels (three Trek, three not, and one not-Trek came very close to being picked up) and about a million stories and ten trillion rejections, I finally managed to publish that all-important first story.  Natch, it was Trek, and that particular story won a big prize and a lot of money, enough to buy a refrigerator, which I still have.   And that was the beginning. 

So, like I said, blame Captain Kirk’s chest.  Go on.  I’m not proud.

2) Do you have a favourite place to write?
Well . . . not really?  I work out of my office at home, and that’s pretty much the only place I work well.  (So I guess that counts.)  For the longest time, I was working out of a front room that gave me a splendid view of our driveway, a few trees, and a Hebrew cemetery across the street.  I’m not complaining; my neighbors are very quiet and well behaved, even though a new one moves in every couple of months.  Which you’d think would be disruptive but isn’t.  Honestly, it’s how I keep track of who’s doing what in my synagogue.   

The only downside to that particular room is . . . it gets a tad gloomy.  I like mountains, trees, light, animals, and we have a lovely backyard, with several wild turkeys that like to drop in and terrorize the squirrels.  (Oh, and several hawks that routinely show up for squab.  I feel a little guilty about that feeder.  My husband accuses me of baiting the doves to feed the hawks.  I don’t think he’s far off the mark.)  Anyhoo, we finally added a year-round sunroom just this last month; that sucker’s practically all glass.  So, now, I like to write out there.  Hang out with my plants.  Make vitamin D.  Watch doves disappear in a cloud of feathers.

3) What’s the best part about writing a story?
Oh, gosh, there are so many GOOD parts: the beginning, of course, when you’re all revved (but then beginnings are always difficult because, all of a sudden, you realize that this thing isn’t going to magically appear and there’s no button to download the whole thing from your head to the paper); any time you write a line or scene that makes you laugh out loud or start to bawl; the end because you’ve FINALLY done; the moment you realize that what you thought was a good idea is suddenly MUCH BETTER if you JUST DO THIS ONE THING . . . 

Those are all good moments.  Coming up with the idea’s a good moment.  Getting the title fixed in your head is fabulous.  That kiss you’ve just written, the one you can almost taste.  The build-up to the kiss.  All that.

So let’s talk, instead, about the WORST part of writing a story: that dreaded middle third.  Any of you guys who write know what I’m talking about.  It’s like you’re running on a lovely trail in a beautiful meadow, and the sun’s out, and there are butterflies and birds and the wind in your hair—tra-la—and everything’s going great and then—WHAM!  You run into this invisible wall and break your nose.  Seriously.  We’re talking blood and everything.  It’s just this terrible moment when you come to this dead stop and a nasty little voice whispers in your ear, You suck.  Everything you write is bad. 

Happens every time.

4) Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now?
Hmmm . . . well . . . not really.  I'm not being difficult, only superstitious.  I don’t talk about works in progress, ones I haven’t finished or sold yet, because nearly everything sounds stupid in only a few sentences, and I don’t like jinxing myself.  (And I haven’t even reached that dreaded middle third.)  Suffice to say that MONSTERS, the third book in my ASHES trilogy, is now in bound galley and ready for a final read-through; and WHITE SPACE, this very intense, dark, YA psychological/horror/thriller and the first volume in a new series I’ve tentatively called THE DARK PASSAGES, is up next for edits and revisions before it debuts in Spring, 2014 from Egmont USA.

Questions relating to DROWNING INSTINCT

5) What was your inspiration for writing DROWNING INSTINCT?
Honestly?  Not any one thing.  As a shrink, I’ve certainly known my share of Jennas and Mr. Andersons.  But I’ve also read a fair number of novels that deal with the same issue, and to be honest . . . I got a little impatient with the ones that seemed to insist that everything is always so black and white; where the adult was always this smarmy/smooth predator-type; blah, blah.  When you’re a psychiatrist, you deal in a lot of gray areas, where right and wrong are relative.  Well-meaning people sometimes go too far.  Good people frequently make bad decisions and horrible choices for all the right reasons, and get in way over their heads before they know it.  I guess I wanted to write a story that didn’t deal in moral absolutes; that made you question who might be manipulating whom; whether there might even be a particle of redemption or growth in this kind of forbidden love. 

6) Can you tell us how you chose characters names?
Dunno.  Just happened.  They felt right.

7) Who would play your dream cast if your book was optioned for a film?
Oh, my.  Well, if he were about ten, fifteen years younger, I’d have picked Bruce Greenwood for Mr. Anderson, hands down.  Good looking, athletic, GREAT voice.  Find me an actor like him it’s a done deal.

Jenna’s much tougher.  I honestly don’t know.  You got any ideas? 

8) Do you have a favourite character?
Not really.  Characters are like children; I love them all, even the nasty ones.  Wouldn’t write them otherwise, and they certainly wouldn’t come alive on the page if I didn’t.

9) What’s your favourite quote from DROWNING INSTINCT?
Well, that’s a little like asking about my favourite character.  I like the whole book.  But if I just HAD to pick a line, I guess it’d be this: Because if you can just hold off the moment when you must confront reality, time stands still and you can keep pretending that life will continue as you’ve known it: that nothing—not even something as wonderful and as terrible as love—has broken your world beyond repair.

Author Bio;
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.


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This is a great post ladies! I've had my eye on this book for sometime now, I think I will have to give it a try soon! :)

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