MG: If you were a libriomancer, which books would be in your “go-to” arsenal?
JCH: I’d probably start with a Dungeons & Dragons role-playing manual that includes a list and description of various magical items, from rings of protection and flight to enchanted swords to stones that make you smarter and stronger. Plus a healing potion to take care of my diabetes. (Though in Isaac’s world, that most RPG manuals have been locked because they’re just too dangerous.) I’d probably get a Star Wars tie-in novel too, because I’d want a lightsaber, even though I’d likely end up slicing my own limbs off. Some sort of personal teleporter would be great too. The first one that comes to mind is from Doctor Who, so there’s another tie-in book. There’s a ton of good you could do with libriomancy, too. If you could use books to create food and water and energy? Or cure diseases? I could use Mira Grant’s book Feed to create the cure for cancer. It would take so long to explore the possibilities. Which means it might be smart to grab the first Harry Potter book so I could use the sorcerer’s stone and live long enough to catch up on all my reading.
MG: The bibliography at the end contains a few novels that don’t exist. Are you planning to write any of them?
JCH: At the moment, I’m not planning to, though I do like some of the ideas. V-Day was important enough that I needed to flesh out more detail, but I also had fun brainstorming the plot of Renfield, and I did a bit of research to make sure the basic idea for Rabid was plausible. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time for all the books I’d like to write.
MG: The power behind libriomancy is the collective readers’ belief in the work. Do you think this power could lend itself to other forms, like art or music?
JCH: We do see one bard in Libriomancer. You don’t see much of Nicola Pallas’s power in book one, but she can definitely mess you up by humming a few strains of jazz. I’ve toyed with the idea of introducing a branch of libriomancy that works with video games, though I’m not sure that would hold up, given the rules I’ve put in place. I’m also thinking about adding a libriomancer who uses poetry for the next book.
MG: Are the authors of the made-up books friends of yours, and if so, how does one get a chance to write a made-up book in Isaac’s world?
JCH: Only two. Ann Crispin is someone I’ve chatted with a bit online, and she’s done a great deal for writers in general through her work with Writer Beware. Given her history writing Star Trek novels, I asked if she’d mind being credited for Vulcan’s Mirror. My friend Catherine Shaffer is one of the people I talked to about the plot for Rabid, so it seemed appropriate to make her the author. (It’s the kind of book I could totally see her writing.) I tried not to make up very many books, because it would be too easy to cheat. If Isaac gets into trouble, I could just make up a book that has exactly what he needs for that situation. As for how to become a made-up author in the Magic ex Libris series, I’m currently accepting bribes in the form of chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake.
See this week’s issue for the rest of the Q&A, including Jim’s explanation of why he made the daring choice of writing a straight male protagonist! (And if you’re not a subscriber, just be patient; it’ll be out from behind the paywall after a week.)