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An interview with Genevieve Cogman

Firstly, Genevieve, I would like to congratulate you on the release of your second novel in the Library series, I am sure you are currently grinning from ear to ear at the moment. Second, I would like to say thank you for taking the time over the holiday period and new year to speak with us at Fantasy Book Review, it’s always a busy period.

Thank you very much! I’m very flattered to have been asked, and I appreciate Fantasy Book Review’s work. (And yes, totally grinning.)

The Masked City was release on the 10th December 2015, and you can find a glowing review of it here.

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he's been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai's dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people - and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene's mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it's always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

The book’s blurb above paints an energetic picture of chase and rescue, but if you could describe The Masked City in one single sentence, for the lazy blurb readers out there, what would it be?

I could say, “Irene finds out that rescuing princes is even more difficult than stealing books,” but that might be a little too short. Perhaps, “Irene has to rescue her assistant, stop a war, and save her own life: much to her regret, there are very few books involved.”
The Masked City is the second in the Library series, how has the experience of its release been in comparison to the first book?
I was slightly more ready for seeing people talk about it and discuss it, though even then it’s always strange to see something that I produced myself be interesting – entertaining, even - to so many other people. Even now, a couple of years into all this, it still feels as if I’m going to wake up from an exceptionally long and wish-fulfilling dream.

How did you find your process of writing and editing for the second book, did it alter greatly?

I’m afraid I still need a lot of editing! I would like to think that some parts went a bit more smoothly, but I’m not sure I can really give an accurate judgement. After all, just because it felt smoother to me in the writing doesn’t necessarily mean that they were smoother to the reader. I was writing this much more to schedule and deadline than the first book, and I’m relieved that I managed to hit those deadlines.

As quoted by Stephen King, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”  Was there any editing that ended up on the metaphorical floor you had hoped could have made it into the book, but it didn’t for one reason or another?

Well, there were a couple of scenes which ended up being totally rewritten, where I intended them as one thing, but they got reworked into something else. When I was first writing the scene at the opera house, Irene was coming there to find Silver, and met Lord Guantes instead. That got completely rewritten into her coming there to do the rescue herself, and it’s much better for that. But I do slightly regret the moment when she shut herself into the opera box to find Lord Guantes sitting there waiting for her.

The book was released in early December (to great reviews), and once the usual promotion work is complete, are you planning to take a rest before diving into the third book, or has work already begun?

Work has already begun! And has a good way to go yet.

I have been impressed with the cover art and yet again it is wonderful, rich and vibrant. Did you have much input to its arrangement?

No, I owe that all to the team at Pan Macmillan, who have done an absolutely fantastic job.

There are many settings/places I enjoyed in this story, but the one that stands out in my mind was the Train. In my mind at least, the Train felt like a mix of myth, Murder on the Orient Express, Doctor Who and the Hogwarts Express, and leads me to this question: Should we start a movement to have a Cogman episode written? I really think that your writing style would be a great fit for the series.

That is incredibly flattering, but I honestly don’t know that I could do a good job. I have absolutely no experience writing for television. While I would love, love, love to write for Doctor Who, I would want to be a lot better first. So yes, it would be brilliant, but I’m not sure I’m capable of it, and I would hate to do a bad job. Maybe in a few years? :)

Venice plays a symbolic role in the story, does the city hold a special meaning for you? 

It is a beautiful city and a fantastic place, but it doesn’t have any specific personal memories for me. I have visited it, though, and I hope to go again some time.

Kia, plays a lesser role in this book, kidnapped and imprisoned for the most. Considering his mighty morphing Dragon powers, is it hard to play down his abilities for everyday use?

It helps that he doesn’t generally want to go round showing off mighty morphing Dragon powers. Going around openly as a dragon (or as a person who is known to be a dragon slumming it in human form) is something that his family reserve for worlds where that sort of thing is acceptable. (Frequently worlds where the dragons are in charge, unsurprisingly.) 

Just fishing at this point, but am I sensing an undertone of a love triangle between Kia, Irene and Vale? Currently, we have a will they won’t they scenario for Irene and Kia, with Vale’s position somewhat ambiguous. Is there going to be some broken hearts (for one of the trio) in the third book?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. Sorry!

The New Year Bells have tolled, I would love to know what is on your 2016 reading list?

Oh dear, I have a whole pile of stuff waiting. Currently there’s _Court of Fives_ by Kate Elliott, _Six Gun Snow White_ by Catherynne M Valente, and _Songs of a Dead Dreamer_ by Thomas Ligotti waiting on my kindle, and _Silver on the Road_ by Laura Anne Gilman, _An Ancient Peace_ by Tanya Huff, and _The Copper Promise_ by Jen Williams, all sitting on the pile by my bed. And lots more. I need more shelves...

Genevieve Cogman was interviewed by Fergus McCartan.

Our Genevieve Cogman reviews

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake.

"The Invisible Library is a world I want to write in. I want the opportunity to play in this sandbox, to visit the Library and meet someone new, and to take them on adventures through this intricate and magical world of alternate Earths and mysterious interdimensional libraries. However, I will have to satisfy myself with Genevieve Cogman treating me to future stories in this world, and I would recommend that you give yourself that same opportunity."

Read our review

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

When it's your job to save the day - where do you start? Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via a besieged building doesn't look good. But when her escape route home goes up in flames, what's a spy to do? However, it seems Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across dozens of worlds. Worse still, her nemesis Alberich is responsible -and he plans to annihilate the Library itself. Irene and assistant Kai are posted to St Petersburg, to help combat this threat. Here Alberich emerges, as Irene tries to save her friend Vale and foil assassination attempts. Then one incredibly dangerous opportunity to save the Library emerges. Saving herself would be a bonus…

"This is not just an admirable follow up, but an author in complete control of her talent and her characters. The Burning Page is not only hard to put down, it’s hard to walk away from."

Read our review

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

Reading The Mortal Word is some of the most fun you’ll have with a book in your life, and the fact that there’s already seven novels published (as of January 2021) means there’s more fun just around the turn of the page. Clever and witty, all while offering up a love letter to the detective genre and balancing the smartest urban fantasy worldbuilding in the business, The Mortal Word is an absolute gem and a must read for just about anyone.

 

 

Read our review

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he's been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds. Kai's dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people - and the forces of order and chaos themselves. Irene's mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it's always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

"The Masked City captured my imagination from the very first page, and brought me to an alternate Venice with stakes so high many Earth’s could have been destroyed by a way between the Fae and dragons. Genevieve Cogman writes with flair and passion that only a booklover can bring to a series about interdimensional librarians. The Masked City is an absolute must, an up-till-4am page-turner."

Read our review

The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

In a 1920s-esque America, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs dragon contest. It seems a young librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can't extricate him there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war. Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They'll face gangsters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn't end well, it could have dire consequences for Irene's job. And, incidentally, for her life...

"The Lost Plot is a fantastic addition to Genevieve Cogman’s oeuvre, and paves the way for a deeper exploration of the fantastic world that she has created."

Read our review

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

The Secret Chapter was yet another brilliant inclusion in Genevieve Cogman’s ‘The Invisible Library’ series. Filled with fast paced action, thrilling heist moments, great character development – for both primary and secondary characters – and with a tantalising mystery to continue unfolding in future books, The Secret Chapter brought everything to love about great fantasy.

Read our review