December 8, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Hell Holds A Special Place For That Which Is Left Unwritten. On This Friday The 13Th, Library Of The Unwritten (A Novel From Hell’s Library #1) Author A.J. Hackwith, Doubles As Hell’s Head Librarian While Speaking With Novel Lives – Out 10/1

A.J. Hackwith launches into her latest series (The Whisper Series, written under Ada Harper, was written in 2018) A Novel From Hell’s Library on October 1st with The Library of the Unwritten (Book #1)- review.
Before even reading Library of the Unwritten you can picture it existing. The characters that aren’t completed, plots that are scratched… there has to be a place for these souls to go?! Well would happen if they decided they needed more. They wanted more? If they wanted to chase down the author who started them and just. Didn’t. Finish?
Synopsis quote:

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

Well everything sounds simple enough in a synopsis. Except. No. Complications abound and everyone is suddenly involved and Claire is suddenly trying to stop something far above her head.
I would suggest you stay silent during this interview. We are in Hell’s Library and I wouldn’t risk the wrath of Hell’s Librarian by making so much as a sniff. Plus… from what I can gather, we are only being introduced to but one wing of Hell’s Library on this tour. Should you break the rules… well I don’t know that you want to risk being introduced to the rest…
Library Of The Unwritten

The Library Of The Unwritten (A Novel From Hell’s Library #1) Releases October 1st

1) When I first saw the premise for Library of the Unwritten, it was one of those oh my god- this is brilliant/ unique and well yeah of course and how has no one thought of this before ideas that no one has thought of but you did so you are brilliant type of ideas- like when you see a fantastic stand-up comedian. So how did you come up with it?

I feel obliged to note that I’m certainly not the only fantasy author to be intrigued by the idea of an otherworldly eternal library–Neil Gaiman, Genevieve Cogman, and others have done marvelous takes on the idea. But many times these were libraries holding books that had succeeded–had been written–or were not books at all. I think any writer worries about the stories they won’t get to tell, or simply the ones they love but will never find a readership. Those stories and characters seem just as real to me as the books that sit on my bookshelves. I wanted to give them a library, and pour my own fears and feelings into it. I just happened to set it in Hell.

2) Was it cathartic as a writer? Or have other writers come up to you and just been like thank you so much from me, from all the books I never finished, from all the characters I started or the ones still in my head that don’t know what ever happened to them, or even who they are or what came of the messed up things they did? I, we thank you.

That’s been one of the best parts of this book! I certainly didn’t intend to ONLY write a book for other writers, but when someone tells me the book encouraged them to keep on working on their art–whether a story or not–it makes me feel like the ideas are finding a home. It is a hard road to create something in this world, whether it is a book or a comic or a sweater. I think creating something new is always an act of courage. Working quietly, without outside validation, is kind of antithetical to the way the rest of the world works right now. Whether you’re writing stories, designing a video game, or knitting a sweater, I want you to know that it is important; your work has value, exists, and is rooting for you.

3) From what I can tell you seem very involved in the writing community and those that are publishing around you. What has made you so invested in what is going on in the writing lives of others? 

Oh gosh. Survival, maybe? Like I said, writing is hard, and right now the WORLD is hard. I think the only way we make it through anything is by finding others to survive together. That can be writers, readers, or what have you.
My thinking is probably influenced by my time working in tech. Tech start-up businesses, bad ones, can be very dog-eat-dog. Don’t help a colleague because their success might mean your failure. I never believed that. It does happen, but none of us are served by assuming the worst. So I decided that the opposite of that would be the mantra of my writing career. No industry is a zero sum game. People loving this author’s book does not preclude them from loving THAT author’s book, as well. Your fellow storytellers are not your competition: they’re your crew. Their success does not mean your failure.
So I like to recommend and yell about works I enjoy, when I can. Not because they are written by friends (though some are), but because I love these books and writers, and I want to see MORE of them. The world only gets better if we’re working together.

4) As a reader I like to mix up anthologies and novels so that I have short stories in-between novels. Is it the same as a writer who writes both short stories and novels? Or is there a different dynamic at play? 

Oh definitely! I have been focusing on novel projects for a while now (the second and third book of the Hell’s Library trilogy are coming!), but I have to break it up with smaller projects to avoid burnout. I write short stories, draft future book ideas, sometimes I write fanfic. Fanfic or serial fiction is particularly great because it functions on that immediate feedback/validation cycle that is just not possible in traditional publishing. Those little hits of support can make the long path through writing a novel much more doable.

5) What is something readers can look forward to as the series progresses?

Spoilers! Let’s see what I can share, since I’m working on the final book now. Every main character is in for changes, lots of them, but I can promise I don’t write grimdark or tragic endings. We’re going to see the other wings of the Library, and learn more about the damsels, muses, books, and why the Library exists in the first place. The second book sees Brevity’s history with the Muses come to the fore, and a jaunt across Library wings that reveals secrets. There’s going to a be a raven, a revolution, a kiss, and a drop of unwritten ink.


AJ Hackwith
A. J. Hackwith is (almost) certainly not an ink witch in a hoodie. She’s a queer writer of fantasy and science fiction living in Seattle, and writes sci-fi romance as Ada Harper. Her work appears in Uncanny Magazine and assorted anthologies. Summon A.J. at your own peril with an arcane circle of fountain pens and classic RPGs, or you can find her on Twitter and other dark corners of the Internet as @ajhackwith.

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