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Interview With Ilsa J Bick!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

1)  If you were any character in the book, who would you be and why?

Oh, gosh, I’m not sure how to answer that question.  I invest so much of myself into all my characters that it’s impossible for me to choose a single one.  Each of the major characters in this book faces some adversity—some black moment—that he or she has to face down.  In addition, the major characters all come to care about one another and each is willing to sacrifice in order to help the others.  I admire that kind of selflessness and courage.  

2) Your characters were diverse and had to think on their feet; if you could change one decision made by a character, what would you change?

To be honest, I wouldn’t have any of them change a single thing.  If I did, then I wouldn’t have a story :-)

3) When you begin books do you already have an ending in mind?

Most of the time, I do.  In fact, it’s very tough for me to write if I don’t know what I’m aiming for.  Stephen King once said the writing a book is like taking off in a Boeing 747 and heading into the clouds.  Eventually you know you have to come out and make a landing somewhere.  Trust me, it really helps to know where the landing strip is.

4) Who was the most difficult character to create and why?

Believe it or not, Eric was really tough.  On the one hand, he supposed to be this perfect guy: loyal, brave, strong, protective.  Yet, when we meet him, he’s just killed his father.  Sure, it was in self-defense and an accident; Big Earl was an abusive creep; but manslaughter is manslaughter.  So how does that square with Eric being such a good guy?  The other thing was how to handle his attraction to Emma.  I’m not a big fan of teenage insta-love scenarios.  They all feel so forced.  It’s true that adversity can bring people closer together, but the notion of people falling all over themselves in love at first sight… I just have a tough time with that.  So I had to work at making Eric a very sympathetic and admirable character while creating a scenario where he might also find redemption through self-sacrifice.

5) I love the title, how did you decide on it?

Well, ask any writer, and she’ll tell you that the most terrifying thing is that blank page, all that white space—and since this is, in part, a horror novel . . . there you go.  I mean, you have to put words down there and construct a coherent story.  That’s pretty tough.  In a way, I guess you could say that since this book is, in part, my attempt to translate what it’s like to be a writer, I wanted to give readers a sense of all the things that might be going on in the spaces between the lines. 

Think about this way: a word has no meaning—none, zero, zich, zip—unless there’s emptiness around it.  Unless it’s bounded by emptiness—by white space—to give it power and definition.  A D is a D because there’s space around the letter to make it a D.  A word or letter or symbol or sentence means absolutely nothing if you don’t set it off by a lot of white space.  People are always talking about the power of the word; another way of looking at it, though, is that it’s the white space that gives the word power and definition.  To my way of thinking, that means there’s an awful going on between the lines. 

6) Why did you choose the setting you did?

Well I chose a lot of settings; are you referring to the valley or the fact that there’s a lot of snow and it’s cold?  There’s nothing like a snowstorm to cut you off from people very quickly and that’s what I was after.  But, if you’re talking about the valley, then it’s more symbolic.  (This is where my other life as a shrink comes out.) Think about a bunch of scary movies that take place in basements and tunnels and caves.  All those places are stand-ins for the most hidden places of your mind where the monsters live—and each of my characters has to deal with his or her own worst nightmare. 

7) Can we look forward to more books from you soon?

Oh, sure.  THE DICKENS MIRROR, the sequel to WHITE SPACE, will be coming out in 2015.  As soon as I’m done with that, I’ll be going back to a standalone that’s half-done and another book, also half-completed, that will be the first volume in a new series.  Just got to write them as fast as I can and move on; I always have way more ideas than hours in the day. 


  1. Unknown said...:

    A full day of beauty at the spa from my husband :)

  1. Unknown said...:

    Beauty treatment at the spa from my husband

  1. Unknown said...:

    Beauty treatment at the spa from my husband

  1. Unknown said...:

    I'm looking forward to reading white space.

  1. I am one of those kinds of people that usually knows the ending first, lol. Great interview!

    Vyki @ On The Shelf

  1. Susan T. said...:

    I am hoping for more books from Ilsa and soon! :)