Interview With Rachel Caine

Posted by Goodreads on July 11, 2016
The versatile and prolific Rachel Caine had already enjoyed more than 20 years of publishing success—with titles such as her bestselling 15-book Morganville Vampire series—when she created the thrilling historical fantasy The Great Library. Part one, Ink and Bone, introduced readers to a dangerous dystopia in which the Great Library of Alexandria had not only survived but seized control of the world's access to books and knowledge. With personal ownership of books outlawed, a thriving black market has sprung up. Young Jess Brightwell finds himself at the intersection of both legal and illegal worlds and discovers the horrifying lengths to which the Great Library will go to retain control. Now in part two, Paper and Fire, Jess is forced to flee for his life and faces the ultimate test of his loyalties. Rachel, who has written more than 45 books under several pen names (genres include science fiction, horror, urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and mystery), answers your questions about her favorite libraries, writing, sword fighting, and the time period she would most love to inhabit.

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Jen: I'm so excited for Paper and Fire! Ink and Bone was sooooo good, and I love the idea of the Great Library, no matter how ruthless. What's the most amazing library you've ever visited?

Rachel Caine: I find the most amazing books in the most surprising places...small-town libraries can be full of rare treasures that are out of print and hard to find. (I love books, can you tell?) As far as most beautiful, the new San Diego library that's near the convention center is AMAZING.

Loes: What is the most surprising thing you've ever had to research for one of your books?

RC: So many rabbit holes to follow when you research...the most fun one I ended up exploring for The Great Library was probably the history of ancient automation. It's stunning how advanced it became...and very likely the reason we've lost so much knowledge of that had to do with the loss of the original work in the Great Library of Alexandria.

Joanna: How do your characters come to you—fully formed or do they reveal themselves in pieces? Do you have little stories about them that don't make it into the books?

RC: Often characters reveal themselves to me bit by bit. I usually know something intriguing about them, but over time it's like getting to know a trusted friend. The more they trust me with their secrets, the better and richer the characters become. Yes, I do have a lot of snippets and bits that don't make it into the books...deleted scenes and entire stories!

Eilidh: After writing your Morganville Vampire series, would you rather become a vampire or stay human?

RC: I don't think my opinion changed, really. I always said I'd stay human, and I think that's still true. I admire the vampires as beautiful predators, but I'm just not ruthless enough to be one of them.

Tina: Who are your writing role models?

RC: I have SO MANY! If I could write half as beautifully as Holly Black or Libba Bray or Leigh Bardugo, I could die happy. If I could spin a tale as entertaining as Jim Butcher, ditto.

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Penny: If you could live in any time period, which one would you choose? What would you do for a living?

RC: Even though I'm sure I'd die young of something stupid, like a sinus infection, I'd pick ancient Egypt. It's always held huge fascination for me. And I'd probably be a simple potter. I actually enjoy throwing and firing pots quite a lot.

Alexa: What's the most difficult part about writing multiple POV characters in a single book?

RC: I don't do as much of it as many others, because I remembered as a young adult how much it disappointed me to be pulled out of a character's POV when I was really into them. I guess the most difficult thing about it is precisely that...making each character so involving and compelling that it doesn't matter!

Lydia: I'm such a sucker for books that rewrite history. It's so cool how you've reimagined the Library of Alexandria! What other "alternate history" ideas fascinate you? Any books you could recommend?

RC: Most people like to pick battles or wars as jumping-off points for changes, and those are valid, but at the same time, I think small changes can be just as interesting. What if Charles Dickens had never written a word? He was a powerful force for change in his time. What if Bram Stoker had never gotten Dracula published? And that's just changing the literary landscape. Inventions like the cotton gin were massively influential in so many ways—both for good and bad. You could pick almost any paradigm-shifting thing and remove it, and follow the consequences to great effect.

There are a wonderful array of choices in Alternate History, too...from works like The Man in the High Castle in science fiction to Holly Black's White Cat (Curse Workers series). I think there needs to be more alternate history explored in YA...though there are a lot of Steampunk YA books I love as well, including ones by Gail Carriger!

Angelique: I heard you've done some sword fighting! Is that true? How far did you get into it?

RC: I did! I trained in competitive fencing but got out of it after about two years and got into stage fencing, which I found WAY more fun. For me it was more about having fun than ruthless winning. So stage fencing was a perfect outlet. I fenced rapier.

Rachel: If you could take any object from your books and make it real, what would you choose? Why?

RC: I'd totally make myself an automaton lion for my porch. Not only would it keep salespeople away, but it'd guard my packages! (I get a lot of packages. SO MANY.)

Thanks so much! This was a blast!

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