Promotional Post: Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine with Author Interview!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

*This is my first promotional + author interview post, please pardon any potential structural errors.


Guys, Ash and Quill, the third installment in the Great Library series by Rachel Caine (who is also the author of The Morganville Vampires series) is out! Actually, it's been out since yesterday, July 11th! I have reviews for the first two books on the blog, but for your ease, you can find them here (Ink and Bone) and here, (Paper and Fire) chronologically. This is the first book I promote, (and by promote, I mean dedicate post -that is not a review- to) partly because there hadn't been a book that I was very much looking forward that I had known the release date for in advance and partly because when I requested a copy of Ash and Quill from the publisher I was asked if I would like the have the opportunity to publish a post on my blog promoting the book as well as interview the lovely Rachel Caine, I couldn't refuse!
I genuinely loved the Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire. I recommended the series to my brother, he read and loved them as well! I'm fairly certain I mentioned this in one or both reviews for the books, but this series is not for everyone. The action is sort of slow-paced, for lack of a better phrase, but the books are action-filled nonetheless. The writing, the world, and the unique characters compensate for any slowness. I have not yet read Ash and Quill, but I plan on reading it immediately after I finish my current read. I also made it that I would read it after I publish this promotional post so that it would not be influenced by any opinions I might have of Ash and Quill, all my (relatively) organized thoughts and opinions will be in my review, which will be a separate post. So, be on the lookout for that!

Again, I interviewed Rachel Caine (my first interview was RACHEL CAINE!). I asked her a few general questions (writing habits and such) and a few questions about the Great Library series. The interview went as follows:

My name is Islam Ahmed and I am honored to have the opportunity to interview you today!

Thank you so much, I’m so pleased to have the chance to talk!

1) First and foremost, I would like to say that I absolutely love the first two installments in The Great Library series! Was the general concept of the world of the Great Library an idea you just came up with one day or were you inspired to write it? If the latter is true, what inspired you to write the series?

I appreciate the library love! Honestly, I’ve been kicking this idea around for almost 15 years. It’s taken on a variety of forms as I tried to figure out how best to make it work. Was it an adult fantasy novel? Was it set in a medieval world? Was it set inside Alexandria, at the time of the Great Library? I tried to write it about a dozen different way over the years, and nothing quite clicked for me ... until a visual image of someone carrying books out of a war zone flashed on a screen, and just like that, I began to wonder who this person was. He was identified as a professor, and I thought of how the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed first, and then, I wondered about someone taking those books to the Great Library. I immediately knew how I wanted to write it, though I had a few months of fleshing out details. And once I started crafting characters, I knew I wanted to have a main character who was the son of a book smuggler.

The idea of Scholar Wolfe coming out of the doomed city of Oxford with his stack of books really inspired me to create the entire series.

2) Do you stick to an outlined plot when you write your stories or are you flexible and allow yourself to make major changes to the story along the way?

I have an outline, but I usually put it away and don’t refer to it unless I feel I’ve gotten off track. That allows me the freedom to pick a more interesting direction, if I feel inclined (and often do). I do let myself make major changes, and I try to keep my publishers updated along the way when I do. (I have to, because books go on sale early, often before I even turn in the first draft!)

3) Was there anything you found particularly interesting or surprising while writing these books? Something you found out about yourself or while you were conducting your research (if any) for this book?

I went into this project thinking I understood what ancient libraries were ... after all, weren’t they aspirational storehouses of knowledge designed to benefit the people? Well, they weren’t. “Knowledge is power” is a saying, but it’s also the truth of ancient days, when knowledge was hoarded, saved, withheld from others as a means of advancement and achievement. Egypt didn’t establish a library to let the people have reading material; in fact, the people didn’t even have access for quite a long time. Only certified scholars, whose work them benefitted the library (and Pharaoh). However, the Alexandrian library did establish a public reading room, which was a huge innovation!

I loved the idea that there were wars for books and scholars--quiet ones, waged academically for the most part, but serious nevertheless. Pharaoh Ptolemy V put Aristophanes in prison for a time because the playwright was rumored to be seeking a position at another library! Brutal.

4) Without giving away too much information (we wouldn't want any spoilers!), tell me: was there a scene in Ash and Quill that was especially difficult to write?

There’s a very pivotal scene, emotionally speaking, where Jess finds out the cost of what Morgan’s done to herself in order to aid their escape attempt ... and it’s pretty heartbreaking. I found that one very hard to write because I didn’t want to damage either one of them like that, but I couldn’t skip over it, either. It took me five or six attempts to get it where I thought it should be.

5) Some authors have strange habits to get them into the writing mood, do you have any peculiar writing habits?

Give me coffee, a computer, headphones, and music. I’m pretty simple. (I can even skip the coffee, sometimes.) I do make playlists for each book, so that’s a bit of a peculiar habit, i suppose. I need songs that help reflect the book and characters for me to keep me in a unique environment.

6) The characters in this series are some of the most unique characters I've come across in my reading experiences. Of all the characters present in the series, why did you choose Jess to be the main character? In other words, what makes Jess different from the other exceptionally intelligent and talented scholars that warrants his designation as the main character?

Jess is, from the beginning of the story, an outsider even in the middle of his own family; he doesn’t feel like one of them, as his twin brother does. He’s restless. And that made him interesting to me. He’s sent to the Great Library with conflicting goals, which is a great way to build tension--he’s expected to deliver goods and information back to his criminal family, but that means betraying both the friends he’s making, and the Library he’s coming to understand and appreciate.

Most of the other characters in the book have clearer motivations, even when they have conflicts. Jess’s conflicts are always multilayered, and that really drew me to him as the narrator. Also: I like that he’s not the smartest one in the group, but he might well be the cleverest at surviving.

7) Like Khalila, I am a Muslim woman who wears the headscarf or hijabInk and Bone might have been the first book I've read that tells the story of a female Muslim character (however minor her role) let alone one that wears the hijab. Is it difficult to write from the point of view of characters of different backgrounds and perspectives? It certainly seems like a lot of fun!

I’m so honored you enjoy Khalila’s character! When I was building these characters, I realized that something I really wanted to portray was the historical significance of Muslim scholarship, and I also wanted to honor my incredibly lovely Muslim readers of the Morganville Vampires series, who came out in droves to meet me on my European tour in particular. She’s meant as a bit of a tribute to them.

It’s not difficult to write from the point of view of characters who don’t share your perspectives and background, but it’s difficult to do it right,and that is something that keeps me up at night and makes me work very hard on being accurate and honoring that trust. I don’t always get it right, and I try to have multicultural teams of readers giving me feedback so that I can correct my mistakes before they’re in print. I want my characters to ring true, and I try to craft that experience for every one of them.

I’m very honored that my beta readers for Ash and Quill pointed out a couple of pivotal moments for Khalila in early drafts that read completely wrong from my intentions. I’m sure I still get things wrong, and I’m always eager to learn and grow as a writer by hearing what I can do better.

8) What can fans of the Great Library series expect from the Ash and Quill?

A tense escape thriller, and the beginnings of a very dangerous spy game that will continue in Books 4 and 5!

9) Finally, the questions (almost) all authors dread: Is there anything you're working on at the moment? If so, when can we expect its release?

I don’t dread that at all! This month also saw the release of my new adult thriller Stillhouse Lake, which is doing very well. In December I’ll be publishing the second book of that series, Killman Creek. In February 2018 a new series launches called The Honors with Honor Among Thieves, a truly adrenaline-fueled space epic I’m cowriting with my good friend (and epic writer) Ann Aguirre. We’ve already turned in the second book of that series as well.

I’m currently working on Book 4 of The Great Library; the title’s still tentative so I can’t tell you what it will be yet, but it’s going to be a very white-knuckle kind of book! Then I move on to the tenth book in my urban fantasy Weather Warden series, Red Hot Rain.

My schedule is pretty full!

10) Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

My website is, and you can contact me through a form on the site. I’m also on Twitter @rachelcaine, and on Facebook at rachelcainefanpage. I’m still experimenting with Instagram but I’m rachelcainewriter there!

Thank you so much for your time and congratulations in advance on the new release! I am very much looking forward to your future works!

Thanks again for letting me be part of YOUR world! -- Rachel


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