Today we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to celebrate the release of Rachel Caine’s third book in The Great Library series, Ash and Quill! If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, then you know how much I’ve enjoyed this series, and this book in particular. (Check out my original review here.)
Without further ado, I’m excited to introduce a guest blog post from the author herself (and don’t forget to check out the book trailer at the end)!
I thought I’d do something a little different for you on today’s blog — and thank you for letting me share your space today for the release of Ash and Quill!
So … let’s interview a character from Ash and Quill. There are lots of characters I could sit down and chat with, but I think one of the most pivotal (and popular) in the series is Scholar Christopher Wolfe.
Funny thing: I really do this sometimes when I’m stuck on a particular part of the story, so this is reproduced from an actual “conversation” I had with him when trying to work out a difficult scene in Paper and Fire. It’s in my background notes from that book. It also affected the development of two free stories on Wattpad featuring his earlier life (Stormcrow), and the earlier life of his mother (Tigers in the Cage). So even this apparently silly bit of back and forth with my fictional character led to more writing (as well as telling me how he felt about the scene I was writing).
RACHEL: Hello, Scholar Wolfe. Thanks for talking with me today.
WOLFE: Well, get on with it, then, I don’t have time for pleasantries.
RACHEL: Of course you don’t. Tell me a little about your childhood, Scholar Wolfe.
WOLFE: How on earth is my childhood relevant to me being locked away in a dungeon?
RACHEL: Didn’t you grow up locked in the Iron Tower for the first few years of your life, with your mother and father, both Obscurists?
WOLFE: I hardly remember my father, who refused to take part in the work of the Obscurists and exiled himself to a room within the tower. I saw him rarely. We were not close.
RACHEL: And your mother?
WOLFE: My mother remains locked there by her own choice. She is a powerful woman, with the ear of the Archivist Magister. She could easily throw open the doors of that gilded cage and do as she wishes.
RACHEL: Does it bother you that you did not manifest Obscurist powers?
RACHEL: But it meant you were taken from your mother and placed in an orphanage!
WOLFE: It taught me to be resilient. I always had too much ambition for the Iron Tower, in any case. Training as a Librarian, and then a Scholar, suited me well enough. I am unsentimental about my past. You may draw your own conclusions about how it affects me under any circumstances.
RACHEL: Then let’s discuss a more personal, darker time. I’m about to lead you into a dungeon in Rome … a place where you were confined and tortured for an entire year of your life. Are you sure you’re ready to go into that place, even to rescue someone else? How traumatic is this going to be for you?
WOLFE: I am in full control of myself, I assure you.
RACHEL: Sir, with respect, I don’t think you are.
RACHEL: I didn’t hear that.
WOLFE: I said, Santi will be at my side. I will be candid, since you insist: if Nic was not beside me, if I didn’t know he would be there to help me, I don’t know that I could go back there. Not even to save the boy’s life, and believe me, I care very much about that.
RACHEL: So you think you’ll get through it.
WOLFE: As I have gotten through many things. I will focus, I will think, and I will manage my dread until I am safely away from that place. Then perhaps I might need to seek solitude, and come to terms with it again.
RACHEL: Don’t shut Captain Santi out.
WOLFE: Nic knows that door is never locked to him. He also knows that some pain is best left unwitnessed and unheard.
RACHEL: So … as long as you’re focused on the mission, and have Santi safe by your side, you’re all right. I don’t have to worry about you losing your way.
WOLFE: Nic will keep an eye on me. I don’t need your concern, scribe.
RACHEL: Okay then. Let’s go.
I know this is looks extremely weird to most people … okay, it is pretty weird to be talking to an imaginary character as if they’re real. But the process of interrogating characters helps me break down into their history and gives my own subconscious something to work with, in terms of pressure points for the scenes and the people in them.
I have a sign on my desk that I acquired this year, and it says, Take it all the way. The Great Library is a story that has challenged and delighted me, has made me dance with excitement and cry with frustration. It’s a story that I feared was beyond my reach when I started it, and I at times, it felt like I’d never get my hands around it at all … until Ash and Quill. The third book was supposed to be the last book, but somewhere in the back of my mind as I was writing it, an alarm bell kept ringing and getting louder and louder. I had not, in fact, taken it all the way in my original layout of the story.
So I had to go back to my publisher and tell them, with painful honest, that there was more to the story than I’d seen in the beginning, and I’d like to do two additional books. And Penguin Random House was kind enough to grant that to me, so I could follow my rule and take this story all the way to where it needs to go.
Ash and Quill is a pivotal book in the series, and I hope you find it as fascinating and involving as I did in writing it.
— Rachel Caine
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-ATYUlfwoc
Many thanks to Rachel for sharing this today! I had been wondering about the reasons for extending The Great Library trilogy to a five book series and I’m happy to have learned the answer. I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting quite
impatiently for the next installment!