An Interview with Genevieve Cogman

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


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!