Rachel Caine Goes to the Library

Rachel Caine goes to the library  in this Q&A with Young Entertainment. Make sure to tune in to her Twitter Takeover on 7/6 at @YoungEntMag


YEM: What’s Ash and Quill about?

Rachel Caine: Ash and Quill is the third book of an epic alternate history story … a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria (probably the most famous library in the world, destroyed in the time of Julius Caesar) was never burned, and has grown to control all the written knowledge on earth.

The main characters are an unlikely bunch: Wolfe, a Scholar of the Great Library, disgraced and under threat of death; his lover, Captain Santi of the Library’s High Garda army; Jess, the son of a dangerous criminal who smuggles illegal books; Dario, a high-born Spanish youth with political ambitions; Khalila, the elegant, fiercely brilliant daughter of a prominent Saudi family, strong in her faith; Glain, a Welsh girl who’s a born warrior; Morgan, a magic-bearing Obscurist girl on the run from slavery in the Library’s Iron Tower; and Thomas, a young German inventor who’s developed the one thing the Library fears most: a printing press.

Ash and Quill is the third book, and it finds our group bounced from the frying pan of a London under siege by Welsh armies into the city of Philadelphia in America … but not a Philly we recognize. This one is battered, destroyed, under siege, and controlled by the Burners, a rebel group intent on bringing down the Library at any cost. While they ought to be natural allies for Wolfe and his young friends, it’s just the opposite: the Burners are dangerously fanatical, and they see anyone with loyalty to the Library–even to the idea of it–as enemies.

But even escaping Philadelphia–and at what cost?–doesn’t take our friends to safety. Instead, it takes them further into deceit and intrigue, and Jess will have to finally face the fact that they can’t fight the Library from the outside.

It has to be changed from within.


YEM: What inspired it?

RC: I had a couple of pieces that came together in odd ways. I love reading history, and I was struck by the Great Library of Alexandria’s complex and fascinating story as an instrument of power that was never particularly altruistic. It fit nicely with a story I’d been playing with about a world where censorship had become overwhelming. I knew when I started writing the first chapter that I had something I could really sink my teeth into.


YEM: What can the audience take away from the novel?

RC: What most readers have talked about is that this is a series that talks about books … about the importance of them, the fragility, the power. It’s an action-adventure story, an epic rebellion, and an involving world that is both alien and familiar … and yet it also resonates so strongly with many of the issues we struggle with today. Who owns information? Who decides what is useful? In a world where everything is ephemeral and digital, how can we really own anything?


YEM: What was your favorite Young Adult book growing up and why?

I grew up in a weird time, when there wasn’t much in the way of YA to read; most readers jumped directly from children’s books to adult fiction. I suppose Andre Norton, in science fiction, was probably my favorite.


YEM: Where can people find you on the social web?

RC: I’m on Twitter (@rachelcaine) and Facebook (rachelcainefanpage) … I’m going to start dabbling in Instagram (rachelcainewriter). I also have a YouTube channel with interviews and trailers (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-DGeHXazHNrN6KC17faXMw/playlists). Oh, and I’m on Wattpad, too, with free short fiction! (rachelcaine)


Favorite Quote from Ash and Quill:

“Move it,” his guard grumbled, and shoved him between the shoulder blades. Jess kept his balance and shot the man a humorless grin.
 “I can run,” he said. “If you want to make it a footrace.”

For answer, the guard put a hand on his gun.

“Understandable that you’d say no. Truthfully, you’re in no shape to run against my old, sainted grandmother.”

“Shut up, booklover.”

It was still funny to hear that as an insult.

Thanks for the chance to talk about Ash and Quill!

Rachel Caine