An Interview with Genevieve Cogman

Author of the Invisible Library series
With ‘The Lost Plot‘ out January 9th!

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Last week, I reviewed the thrilling latest installment of the Invisible Library series: The Lost Plot is almost here, and it’s the most exciting book yet! Here’s the short version: dragons, spies, prohibition, Tommy guns, gangsters, wolves, books, schemes… if that’s not enough to get you scrawling on your TBR list (who even are you?) then check out my full review here.

For those not familiar with the series so far, the mechanics of the Invisible Library are straightforward: the library sits in between all worlds, and a Librarian (like our beloved Irene) can use libraries or stockpiles of books to access alternate realities. They exist on a spectrum going from the more chaotic to the more controlled, with Fae in abundance on one end, and Dragons on the other. In The Lost Plot, the heart of the story takes place in an alternate 1920s/1930s America, in between rival gangs – and rival Dragons.

I’ve had some burning questions about the series, the worlds, the key players – and (much to my fangirl delight) the author has answered every single one of them! Without further ado, presenting the author of the Invisible Library series… Genevieve Cogman!


RC: I’m sure you get this question a lot, but how did the idea for The Invisible Library come to be?

119888GC: I know I’m far from the first person to have ideas about interdimensional libraries (Pratchett, the French INS/MV roleplaying game, and others) or alternate worlds with Order and Chaos at different ends (Moorcock, Louise Cooper, etc). But I’ve always loved libraries, and I really liked the idea of a secret library accumulating fiction. It was a private daydream.

RC: It’s fantastic how you integrated all these parallel worlds into your universe, which practically makes any time period and any place your playground. Did you have a favorite one to explore?

GC: Vale’s world is one of my favourites, but I’ve had fun with all of them so far. I’ve been doing some research for the one in which most of book five takes place (no details yet, sorry). I’d like to send Irene all over the place – Japan, India, Canada, Vienna, Budapest – and into time periods which would be fun for the author (if less so for the character). However, I want to keep the locations recognizable, even if I do claim “alternate history/world” and change some details, so I need to do the research.

RC: On the same note, is there a place you’d like to explore, but probably won’t be able to through the books?

GC: Outer space, maybe. I don’t think any of the alternate worlds have reached the point of extraplanetary colonization yet. (And Irene isn’t going to want to get on a spaceship if she’d be stuck without access to a library!)

RC: I would love for this to happen SO. MUCH. 

RC: I was so excited to hear that The Invisible Library was growing from a trilogy to a series of five books. Had you always envisioned writing more? (Does this mean that book 5 is truly the end, or is there a possibility of the series getting extended?)

GC: I’d hoped to write more, and I had ideas for more, but I didn’t want to leave it mid-story, so I’ve tried to tie things off at the ends of books 3 and 5 . . . well, somewhat. (See below.) And yes, there is a possibility of more after book 5.

RC: Will we see more of Alberich?

GC: He was abandoned in a burning library, in a world that was falling to pieces, towards the end of the universe where fictional tropes are likely to occur. How could he possibly have survived that? (Looks innocent.)

RC: If you were working for the library, which post would you want to have? Would you rather be a spy, or a researcher, or something else?

GC: Researcher, definitely. I don’t have the talent or desire to be an active operative. Actually, I’d rather just spend my time sitting round reading, but I don’t think that’d be an option . . .

RC: In the series, worlds can be more chaotic (under fae control) or orderly (under dragon control) – how would the Library rate our world? And will Irene or other librarians pop in for a visit?

GC: Probably they’d consider it fairly neutral. I have no immediate plans for them to drop in – though I reserve the right to steal improbable events and situations from our history and biology.

RC: If you could read any lost book from history, which book would it be?

GC: It’s not exactly a ‘lost’ book, but in the ‘Tale of Genji’, the author (Murasaki) leaves the chapter where Genji dies (or is implied to die) blank. I’d like to know what “really” happened to him. Or maybe the first, lost draft of ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’.

RC: Who’s been your favorite character to write so far? Are some characters more challenging than others?

GC: The Fae characters like Silver, Zayanna, or Lily tend to be most entertaining to write, because I can have great fun with their style. I find Vale more challenging, because he is a homage to Sherlock Holmes, and it’s difficult to get that “right”.

RC: Coffee, or Tea?

GC: Coffee. Always. (Not that I won’t drink tea, but . . . coffee.)

RC: Planner or Pantster?

GC: A combination. Some outline, and working from there.

RC: Morning Person, or Night Owl?

GC: Night Owl. (As my editors can tell you from the timing of my emails.)

RC: And finally – if you’re allowed to – can you tell us a little clue as to what to expect from book 5?

GC: I can tell you that Vale will get a bigger part than in book four. And that in some ways it’s an extension of events which occur in all the previous books. And that at the current stage of the edit, Irene keeps on missing out on her dinner. (A very nice dinner, too.) But more than that . . . I’m afraid you’ll have to wait.

RC: Thank you so, so much for answering my questions! And of course for writing this series!

GC: Thanks to you and everyone else for reading it.

The Lost Plot will be available January 9th 2018 from Ace Books
Thank you, Ace Books for providing me with the ARC copy!

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The Burning Page

By Genevieve Cogman

I did not expect this book to hit me as much as it did, but wow. My hands were shaking when I finished it, and I just hugged it against my chest for a bit, trying to process the powerful ending. The Burning Page is the incredible third book in the Invisible Library series, and so far the best yet.

Summary29612879

Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency of finding both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle…
 
Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.
 
With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her…

I thought this was going to be the last in the series, so I was ready for a final showdown. Or, at least, I told myself I was ready: I didn’t want the fun to end.  But the great news is that there are at least two more books in the works, so we can keep enjoying it! It also means that while there is a brilliant showdown, it will not be the last.

Those of you who have read my reviews of The Invisible Library and The Masked City know the gist of why I love this series so much: the idea of secret-agent-book -lover-librarians is just so brilliant! I love the universe that Cogman has created, with multiple alternate realities all connected by this library, with logic and reason at one end of the spectrum, and chaos at the other. You have Order, or reality, incarnated by the Dragons, and you have Stories and Narrative, embodied by the Fae. The library maintains balance by collecting important books from these worlds, and the Librarians don’t always retrieve them legally.

Irene and Kai are brilliant characters whom I love to follow in their adventures. They’re smart and resourceful, and above all,  they love their books. But since the events of the Masked City, they’ve been getting the worst assignments: punishment for Irene leaving her post to save Kai, and stop a war. But now they’re in for an adventure they never expected: the library is under siege, by the evil traitor Alberich, and it could very well die. Not to mention someone has been trying to kill off Irene and Kai!

The pacing is so much faster in this third installment: it’s as if every book was speeding up. There’s love and betrayal, there’s magical worlds and terrifying words, huge twists and an enormous reveal at the very end. Some of our favorite characters are back, and hinting at a large secretive plot that runs through the novels so far. There’s mystery and intrigue, and magic and danger. And an ending that will leave you clutching your bookshelf and whispering promises of love and devotion to it.

All in all – this is the best book of the series so far. It’s fast paced and breathless, with lives on the line. And I seriously can’t wait for more.

Expected publication: January 10th 2017 by Roc. Thank you Roc for sending me a copy!

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The Masked City

By Genevieve Cogman

Well this is embarrassing! I read this book on the plane a few months back and completely forgot to review it, even though I loved it. So I reread it yesterday to give it the attention it deserves, right before I read the third book and share it with you. Oops!

Librarian Spies. Alternate realities. Dragons, Fae, and high technology. Heck yes, I absolutely love the universe Cogman has created in the Invisible Library series. We reviewed the first one not too long ago and I admit, I could not shut up about it (and still can’t!).  So, needless to say, I was excited to return to it as fast as I could. She did not disappoint: The Masked City – a direct sequel to The Invisible Library – was fun and exciting, a fast read I could not put down.

Summary28186364

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

Musings

We return to the beloved characters of Irene and Kai, as they continue their work in the slightly Chaotic London. Irene, as Librarian in residence, has a lot of responsibility, but has begun making friends, and continues to train Kai as her apprentice, keeping his Dragon heritage a secret. I was afraid we would be ‘stuck’ in this universe, since Irene was assigned to it, and wondered how the author could make it exciting, but trust me, we do not stay there long. That London has already told its story, and we’re going on a thrill ride threw new and exciting alternates, ramping up the excitement from the last book.

Kai’s been kidnapped, and it’s up to Irene to find him before the Dragons declare war on the chaotic worlds, or the Fae declare war on the dragons – whichever comes first. With the balance of the universe at stake, Irene has very little time, and very little help. While she continues with the support of both Kai’s uncle, Ao Shun, a powerful noble dragon, and of the library, she’s still alone and running head first into a chaotic universe. There’s going to be danger.

It’s so evident this novel was written by a book lover. While in the first novel we were introduced to the Library, an institution that collects and stores the most important works across all alternate universes, the sequel delves into the world of Fae, who feed off the drama they create amongst humans. Their lives revolve around story: how exciting is theirs? Irene is dragged in and out of the stories of so many Fae, making it near impossible to save Kai, though exciting to say the least. The care and importance Cogman gives to the love of Narrative really shows in her own work as well as the lives of the characters she creates. It’s a clever way of putting stories within stories.

And I just adore the locations. The Venice Irene visits is a perfect version of the place, like the stories you hear from friends: it’s always carnival, everyone’s in beautiful masks and riding gondolas around the city from expensive palace to cozy taverns. The High tech home of Kai, and the sudden trip to Marseille (mah home!) made me giddy and excited. And the Train… oh my gosh, the Train deserves its own book.

One thing I still don’t really like (same as in the first book) is just how much talk there is. Just in the sense that Irene has to talk out all of her ideas with others, going through every possible question and answering them. “Why did you do this?” “Why wouldn’t you do that?” etc gets tedious, and you wonder why she won’t just get on with it. As a reader, I can determine a lot for myself, and sometimes, it’s just better to move on. It’s just a stylistic choice I don’t really like, but it doesn’t make the book any less enjoyable.

But gosh, this is a fun series. The ending is a sharp cliffhanger and I’m so excited to read the next one ASAP. I love this universe, and I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about it!