Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm delighted to once again be one of the authors hosting the YA Scavenger Hunt (YASH)! I always have so much fun and meet such awesome people at this event! What is the YA Scavenger Hunt? It's a biannual online event that promotes collaboration between YA authors from different publishing houses, offering fans an opportunity to see the latest and greatest in Young Adult literature. During the hunt, authors showcase exclusive bonus material, give readers access to top secret insider information, and offer fabulous prizes and giveaways for zealous YA fans.

**PLEASE NOTE: The hunt doesn't officially start until 12:00 Noon PST on Tuesday, April 4th. 

This time around, I'm one of the authors on the Purple Team.

The Purple Team banner above includes the book cover for my YA Paranormal Mystery novel, Shade. If you'd consider voting for Shade in the YA Scavenger Hunt Goodreads poll, that would be awesome. You can find the poll here:
YASH Books Poll on Goodreads


There are lots of different ways to win prizes in the YA Scavenger Hunt!

You're allowed to participate in and enter the contests for all the teams if you wish or you can just pick one. (You can only enter for each team once.) To find the number from me that you need to add to your PURPLE TEAM or ALL TEAMS total, look for the number I've written in purple and hidden somewhere in the material below.

The rules explaining how the YA Scavenger Hunt works and information on prizes can be found here - there's even a video: How to Hunt

Some authors are also offering their own prizes in conjunction with the YA Scavenger Hunt. I'm hosting a Giveaway on my website in which the prize is a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can sign up for my Giveaway here: $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Blog Where My YA Paranormal Mystery Shade Series Is Featured in the YA Scavenger Hunt

If you'd like to read my blog post on the symbolic meanings of the paranormal creatures in my YA Paranormal Mystery series and read an excerpt from Shade(Book #1 in the series) please stop by the blog of Stephanie Keyes, the author hosting me in this YA Scavenger Hunt: Stephanie Keyes' Blog

Scavenger Hunt Post

And now without further ado, I'd like to introduce Ilsa J. Bick, the author I'm hosting on my blog for the YA Scavenger Hunt.

Here's a link to Ilsa's Bio which includes some rather awesome achievements, among them writing Star TrekMechwarriorBattletech, and ShadowRun, working as a child psychiatrist, being a film scholar, former Air Force major and award-winning author of dozens of short stories and novels: Ilsa J. Bick's Bio

And here's Ilsa's fascinating blog post:

A question all writers get a lot: Where do you get your ideas? 

A question I asked myself: How do you write about Arthur Conan Doyle

when the only thing people really know or care about is that the guy created Sherlock Holmes?

This was the problem I faced when doing the second book of my DARK PASSAGES series, The Dickens Mirror.  Contrary to what you’d think, Dickens never shows up because the book’s about his mirror and a whole lot more. 

An aside: The idea for the mirror came because I was an English major; Dickens was one of my favorites; and, in a bio, his daughter talks about playing quietly as her dad works and then, all of a sudden, the guy jumps up, runs to a mirror, and starts making faces and talking to himself.  Turns out this was during the writing of Oliver Twist, and he was creating Fagin.  What Kate, the daughter said, was that her dad stayed in character after that, dashing back to the manuscript and scribbly furiously, all the while mumbling to himself as Fagin.

Anyway, I just took the conceit further in the first book, White Space.  But that’s another topic for another day, and I digress.  (I do this a lot.  It is, in fact, how your mind works, by making connections you might not otherwise make.)

I gravitated to Doyle for two reasons: a) he was alive at the right time and b) he was a physician first before he became a writer.  Me being a doctor, too, I understand the mindset; I get medical school; I pretty much have lived that life.  So I thought, okay, go learn about Doyle before Holmes.

There is where having a magpie mind comes in: reading widely about a whole range of things and then picking up pretty bits and pieces for the brightly colored mess that passes for my nest . . . er, brain

because you never know when something will come in handy.

Turns out that Doyle was, well, pretty interesting.  Grew up very poor in a very bad section of Edinburgh; got into a lot of fights; had an alcoholic for a dad who ended up in an asylum; all that.  He was also a little bit of a nut, gravitating to spiritualism as he grew older but only after his son was killed in World War I.  (IMHO as a psychiatrist, since I know that Doyle suffered from depression earlier, losing a son only made that worse, so it was natural that he’d drift that way to cope.  A lot of people did.)

Did he want to become a doctor?  No; his mom wanted that and since he WAS poor and had a lot of sibs and his mom to try and support (Dad being, by now, in an asylum . . . so, nu, he went to medical school.  

Did he like it?  He liked parts of it, but it wasn’t REALLY his passion.  Doyle was into proving his manliness and wanted adventure.  So, to supplement his income while in school—since he had to pay his way—he took a job as a ship’s surgeon on a whaling vessel. 

Young doctors in training did this all the time.  Captains liked it because they were generally better-educated than their crew and so needed someone to talk to who wasn’t completely illiterate or only interested in stereotypical sailor-things.  (Go read the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien or simply see Master and Commander, a terrific film based on several books in the series, and you’ll understand how important that relationship was/could be.  You will also then understand if I ever make a joke about the lesser of two weevils.) 

Anyway, while he was on the whaler, Doyle kept a journal. 

Read that, and you understand that he loved the adventure of it all: the killing of the seals, the nearly getting killed himself on the ice, the  other guys . . . it made him feel more manly than just studying all the time. 

What caught my eye in this journal, though, were some of his sketches.  They’re crude and all, but one thing he sketched twice was the ship’s big black dog.

And something went ding in my brain and I thought . . . wait a second. 

We all know that one of Conan Doyle’s most famous works—and, frankly, the only one I actually really like—is The Hound of the Baskervilles which is, as we know, all about a big, black, demonic dog.

The story is, in turn, assuredly based on Richard Cabell, probably mixed up with Devon folklore about yeth hounds . . . I’m telling you, I did a lot of reading about all this stuff.

Well, along with all this other stuff I’d learned about Doyle . . . his crummy early life, those fights, that he was a bit of a hoodlum . . . that all just clicked.  There was the black dog.  I knew that Doyle was into spiritualism and the supernatural. He would’ve known about demon dog stories.  He used to fight a lot, and he’d been around sailors, knew sailors . . . and that was where that final, bright shiny piece came from. 

What do you think of when you think of sailors?  Me, I think of tattoos—and why?  Because in Doyle’s time (actually a little before this), sailors were one of the only class of people (other than criminals) who had tattoos.  And some, which I’ve seen in the flesh as it were because people collect some weird stuff—such as these from London’s Wellcome Collection—were what you might expect:

Tattoos only became fashionable for the upper crust when George V—Victoria’s son and quite the party animal—got a dragon tattoo while on tour in Japan.  (This was in 1881 and so right around the time period I was thinking in terms of my alternative London.)  After George got one, everyone who was anyone wanted a tattoo, although most were tasteful and discrete.  (For example, Churchill’s mother, Jenny, had a tattoo around her right wrist that she kept covered up with a sleeve most of the time.  Lady Churchill was a wild and crazy woman in her time, with scads of lovers.  But I digress again.)

I thought, okay, I got all these elements:

Doyle was a gangsta type.  When he was a kid, he ran with a Catholic gang (which is probably the basis for his Baker Street Irregulars). 

As a doctor, he knew about cocaine and doctors experimented on themselves all the time back then.  In fact, Doyle wrote a paper, which I’ve read, about the effects of an extract of gelsinium (made him numb; no great find there), and cocaine is, of course, the monkey on Holmes’s back.  (As it was for Sigmund Freud, who experimented with the stuff on himself and friends, and got horribly addicted until he finally weaned himself off . . . but, again, I digress.)

Doyle knew sailors. 

He sketched that dog. 

In sum, for a strait-laced Catholic boy, Doyle was kind of a wild guy. 

So . . . I decided to make Doyle a drug-addled constable and give him a tattoo of a black demon-dog

And then, in the context of the world of The Dickens Mirror, I decided . . . you know, I think I’ll just have that tattoo come to life.

So, where do writers get their ideas?  From everything and everywhere, so be flexible.  Be curious.  Trust in serendipity and the workings of your imagination and the unconscious to make connections.  Above all, never stop learning and read widely.  Go live life and pay attention because everything—everywhere and every day—has value and, many times, when you least expect.

The Dickens Mirror

Ilsa's Running a Giveaway on Her Website for WHITE SPACE: Book 1 in her DARK PASSAGES Series:
Website Page with Giveaway

Links for Ilsa J. Bick:

Amazon Author Page

Important Information About the YA Scavenger Hunt Contest

Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Ilsa J. Bick, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 4242. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the purple team and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To continue the hunt, visit the blog of author Paula Stokes: Blog of Paula Stokes . Have fun!