A Q&A with Rachel Caine:
Author of Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
July 2015, NAL
Q: First things first: could you summarize the plot for Ink and Bone for us in ten words or less?
Q: I’ll be honest: when I read the synopsis for Ink and Bone, I immediately thought: “Oh wow. That sound incredible!” and started plotting all of the various ways I could get an advanced reader copy in my hands.
Could you share what it was that inspired the plot for the book? Was there a specific idea or eureka moment that made you start wondering what the world would be like if the Great Library of Alexandria existed in the modern world?
Q: Libraries are generally viewed as being an equalizing venue, where people can share information and exchange ideas freely.
(Or as one of my librarian friends cheerfully illustrated in this video, a place where ignorance is vanquished!)
What was it like to build upon and adjust that common perception, for Ink and Bone? Did you find it challenging to add potentially negative overtones to something that is traditionally viewed as so very positive?
(This question originated from me contemplating the Dalberg-Acton quote that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I was wondering how you applied that idea to the evolution of the Great Library. Hope it makes sense!)
Fast forward to the mid-1700s and the re-emergence of the Circulating Library, which happened to also coincidence with the freeing-up of leisure time for the middle class and the invention of the "novel" – a type of contemporary fiction that dealt with the types of people and stories never before talked about – and you got a "moral panic" that ensued about books being as bad as drugs and liquor, and libraries worse than brothels and gin-shops. (If you want to read more about this, there's some wonderful stuff about this under the LIBRARY section of www.enterthelibrary.com from a paper by Assistant Professor Ana Vogrinčič Čepič that explains more about this. It's pretty amazing.
But the real reason that I decided to create this darker vision of the Library is that any institution that lasts this long has a huge baggage associated with it ... and no one likes to give up power. Politics is part of anything, and the more power, the greater the stakes of political struggles. The Library, I thought, would have started out with the very best of motives, but lost its way, and begun deciding what people should/shouldn't know. After all, censorship was, until relatively recently in historical terms, just a fact of life. Someone always decided what should be written/printed/sold. We forget what a revolutionary, world-shaking invention the printing press was.
Q: Each reader’s interpretation of a book is different, but what’s one idea or concept that you hope that they’ll come away with, after reading Ink and Bone?
Q: If you could have tea with any of the book’s characters, who would you choose and why?
Q: And finally, what’s next for you?
Thank you so much for letting me bend your pixels today! I really appreciate it, and hope you enjoy INK AND BONE.