Interview and giveaway: Pearl North's The Book of the Night!
current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current music: Qntal's "Spiegelglas"
Pearl and her publisher, Tor Teen, have generously offered up three copies of The Book of the Night to commenters in the U.S. and Canada! Just leave a comment at the bottom of this entry or its Dreamwidth mirror by 11:59 EST on Saturday, 22 September, and I'll use www.random.org to pick the winners.
The blurb: "The world of the Libyrinth has experienced a series of wrenching changes. After the Libyrarians and their longtime foes the Singers discovered their common heritage, a young healer named Po found the Lion's Bloom, an ancient and enormously powerful artifact capable of rewriting reality.
Behind the mysteries of their shrouded past has always been the legendary Book of the Night. Sought for generations, both feared and revered, it is the key to this world of wonders. When vain, grasping Queen Thela steals the Lion’s Bloom and imperils the very reality of the world, only the Book can heal what she has rent asunder. An epic journey through strange lands, a perilous encounter in a clockwork city, and the revelation of the truth beyond reality will lead those who find the Book to a moment when their world will either be saved...or cease to exist.
Told with the grace and skill that only Pearl North can bring to the tale, The Book of the Night is a breathtaking adventure that will linger in the memory long after the final page is turned."
And now, onto the interview!
1. First of all, without spoiling anything, you seem to play with tropes: what is fantasy, what is science fiction, even what is the meaning of story and myth? Could you talk a little about that?
Sure. I like to examine my assumptions as much as my awareness of them will allow. Any time I make a story decision automatically, without debating over it at all, that's a red flag to me. So it seems natural that in the course of this trilogy, which is by far the most complicated thing I'd ever written, I'd eventually get around to questioning all kinds of things. As you say, what is story? Is it something separate from what we call reality, or is reality really just another story? Yeah, it can get kind of deep inside my head. :)
2. There's a steampunk city in the Libyrinth universe! With lots of gears and dangerous springs! What was the inspiration behind that?
I'm a bit of a pantser, so I sometimes surprise myself. For example I didn't know much at all about Thesia when I first mentioned it in Libyrinth, the first book of the trilogy. By the time I got to The Book of the Night, I knew that Thesia was where the minerals and metal goods came from on my world. And then into the story came the Tollkeeper. He just sprang right out of my head and on onto the page, and lo and behold, he was all decked out in Victorian garb and was messing around with gears and such. I said to myself, well, I guess the Thesians are steampunks.
3. Finding your own family seems to be a prominent theme in the novels: Selene chooses the Libyrinth, Queen Thela chooses Jolaz to replace her, and of course, Haly and Clauda rely on each other. Could you speak a bit to that?
The drive to find a place and a group where we are valued as ourselves is something that I have always identified with. It is a theme that shows up in my work again and again. I find something at once painful and beautiful in that search, and I experience, still, a strong emotional catharsis when my characters find their true home.
4. The Ancients have pretty sophisticated technology. Whether that is a positive or negative thing, I'll leave up to the reader, but what do you as author think about technology and our future?
I love technology! No, I'm not entirely uncritical of it, and I do think it is important to thoroughly examine the ramifications of technological developments and the process by which technology is made. But I and many others who are dear to me would not be alive today without technology. And on a slightly less dramatic note, the internet and the rise of ebooks has vastly improved my life as an author.
There's something deeply ironic about the fact that at the same time I was writing the Libyrinth novels, which valorize print books, I was also exploring ebooks and digital publishing in a different genre. The technological shift in publishing happened so fast that by the time I was writing The Book of the Night, it was an entirely different landscape from the one in which I initially conceived of the idea for the Libyrinth. I hope that the conclusion of the trilogy leaves room for a broader perspective on both books and technology--and books as technology.
5. The question of balance comes up often. Balance between faiths, between genders, between peoples, balance between those with enough to eat and those without. Do you think we can ever really find true balance between all those things?
Perfect balance would probably mean stasis, which would probably mean death, though we're speaking quite abstractly here. I think that in real life, balance is a process, not a state. We are always adjusting, correcting, balancing--moving. That's what's important I think. Keep moving!
6. Finally, on a much less philosophical note, what can we expect from you in the future?
That's hard to say. I have no immediate plans for another Pearl North book at this time, but I am always writing. At the moment I am working on a science fiction romance under another name. You can always check out my website, http://anneharris.net, for links to all of my current projects.