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Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library

Genevieve Cogman is the author of The Invisible Library fantasy book series for young adults. A few months ago I received an advance review copy of the first book from the publisher and I enjoyed the story very much. The second book in this series have now been released and I’m looking forward to reading it. What I enjoyed most about the first book was the concept of a hidden library hat contains versions of books from alternate universes. The thought that there could be hundreds or thousands of versions of our favorite stories is appealing to a reader such as myself.  Aside from the incredible library, what caught my attention in her writing were the strong characters and action sequences - something we don’t typically associate with a book about books. This is truly an adventure novel that keeps moving. I had an opportunity to interview Genevieve and here are her responses to some of my questions.

Q: You’ve written some strong female characters in this book. Can you describe what inspired each of these (Irene, Coppelia, and Bradamant) characters?
A: I’m not sure any of them have a single point of inspiration. Irene is the standard protagonist who just wants to get on with the job, and finds herself with too many things to juggle at once. She’s also a thorough bookworm and daydreamer (which is why she picked the name “Irene”, after all) and a competent operative, a little bit Modesty Blaise though also a lot of Moneypenny.
Coppelia’s the mentor who knows more than she’s prepared to admit, a Librarian with a lot of history (such as why she’s got a mechanical arm) and her own personal tastes in literature. (For the record, she likes science fiction, particularly books about artificial intelligence.)
And Bradamant’s the rival who has a past history with the protagonist, and whose methods and morality are different enough that they come into conflict about how to achieve their goals, though they end up working together. She’s a person whose first argument is always “the ends justify the means”, and who sees herself as a misunderstood hard worker who makes the hard choices which nobody else will commit to.
I think that ultimately any of them could have been male or female. First and foremost, they’re people.

Q: What sort of research did you do in preparation for (or during) the writing of these books?

A: I did quite a lot of investigation on the internet into things like the geography of London, famous missing or never-written books, the British Museum and the British Library, and how to spell Liechtenstein. I  also read and reread my collected Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to try and get the vocal patterns and habits correct. And for the action scenes, I watched quite a lot of Hong Kong action movies (a long-term addiction of mine).

Q: What scenes were the easiest to write (and why)? Were any scenes difficult?

A: I think the hardest scene to write may have been the one where Irene is explaining about the Library to Vale, because I was trying to convey quite a lot of information, but I didn’t want the scene to get boring or slow down too much. I’m not sure that I can say any scene or scenes was the “easiest”. They all took work.

Q: What authors do you enjoy reading (and what do you like about their work)?

A: I don’t want to give you a list of several dozen authors (which would barely be scratching the surface), so I’ll try to think of a few favourites. Lois McMaster Bujold, Kage Baker, Naomi Novik, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch, Paul Cornell, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Steven Brust, Charles Stross, Barbara Hambly, Pat Mills, GK Chesterton,  JRR Tolkien, Mary Renault, John Dickson Carr, JK Rowling, John M Ford, Barry Hughart... I find a wide spectrum of things in their writing, including interesting characters, well-handled narrative, good description, brilliant dialogue, imaginative concepts, and stories which sweep you along once you get into them and make it hard to stop reading. I want to read different things at different times. Sometimes I really want a book that makes me think (like John M Ford or Mary Renault), and sometimes I just want something which I can settle into and enjoy.

Q: If you’ve ever read a book more than once, please give the name of the book and explain why you chose to re-read it.
A: If I’ve read a book once and enjoyed it, then I’m almost certainly going to read it again at some point. (There’s a reason why my flat is overfull of books...) I’m afraid the answer to this question is “far too many to count”, and “because I enjoyed reading it the first time”. I’m a very fast reader.

Q: What are the top 3 items on your bucket list?

A: At the moment:
See a live performance of the musical Elisabeth.
See a production by the Takarazuka Revue while in Japan (this includes going to Japan!)
Visit Hong Kong.

Q: Tell me about your favorite things: favorite travel location, favorite food, favorite drink, favorite activity, favorite museum, favorite library(ies), favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite band or song.

A: Bearing in mind that all these are my current favourites, and may change in the future if I come across something new which I like better:
Favorite travel location - Venice
Favorite food – Chicken liver risotto (my father’s recipe)
Favorite drink - Coffee
Favorite activity - Reading
Favorite museum – I used to love going to the Geological Museum in London, though I haven’t been there for ages.
Favorite library(ies) – No particular favourite, they’re all valued.
Favorite book – Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng’en
Favorite movie – Brotherhood of the Wolf
Favorite band or song – Pardonne-moi, by Mylene Farmer

Q: What are you working on now?
A:  I’m currently working on book 4 of the Invisible Library series. No rest for the wicked...

 Find out more about Genevieve Cogman:
Author Website
Author on Goodreads
Enter The Invisible Library sweepstakes
The Invisible Library on Amazon
The Masked City on Amazon

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