Where She Wrote It: Ilsa J. Bick & ASHES

Ilsa J. Bick describes her writing office, where she began the very first words of her zombie novel,  Ashes

I was sitting at my desk in my home office, which is the front room of our house and would probably be something like a little front parlor or something, if this were, say, 1930.

Two big windows that look out on the driveway, although I have to really work to look because I've deliberately positioned my desk facing the wall BETWEEN the two windows.  I do this on purpose because I'm an inveterate lover of tree, flowers, mountains, birds, animals--but, if I lean a bit to the left or right and work hard at it, I can see the headstones in the Jewish cemetery directly across the street.

And I kind of cheat a bit.  The actual kneehole to my desk is a little left of the facing wall, so I can see a birdbath on the left and a hummingbird feeder, and on the right, another hummingbird feeder.

I used to have finch feeders hanging from a small Japanese maple right outside the window as well, but my wily cat learned how hunker down in the low cedar and regularly ambushed them.  So that feeder's a bit further out, way up off the ground, and the cat just has to suffer.  On the other hand, he really does enjoy the Bird Channel.

Paintings by Kate Hoppman

Slightly to the left of the computer and on the facing wall hang three small, fairly bizarre paintings--all of which are themed around women and crows--by the fabulous WI painter, Kate Hoppman. 

Drawing by James Hempel

Immediately to my right hangs a wonderful and very large pencil drawing by WI artist, James Hempel, of a woman, in Victorian dress and with a very wide-brimmed hat, seated at a table.  Facing her are different views of the same woman as if she were looking at herself in a four-panel mirror (which is exactly what the drawing's based on; I've seen the actual photo).

To the left and on the north wall, I've got a nice abstract of a waterfall and my little Zen arrangement of a big seated Indian Buddha, lots of little Chinese Buddhas, pretty rocks, a mini-sand garden, a Galileo thermometer, incense pots, a picture of me and my husband, and a small bamboo.

And behind, there's a large floor-to-ceiling bookcase (one of many) crammed with books, pictures of my kids and cats and little rocks, chatchkas, pretty glass paperweights . . . stuff you pick up along the way.

But--to be perfectly honest--when I'm writing . . . I see absolutely none of that.  I'm busy focusing on the world I see in my head and the words on the page.  

So that first paragraph, I saw Alex: where she was, what she was doing, how Aunt Hannah looked to her--and nothing else.