Jim Hines is one of those authors who just gets it all right. He’s got a great online presence. He’s a nice, smart, savvy guy. And best of all, the dude’s a slam-bang writer — uh, hello, Libriomancer? In fact, here’s Jim to talk about the follow-up to that book, Codex Born:
Tell Us About Yourself: Who The Hell Are You?
Hell if I know. I write fantasy books, mess around with amateur space photography, practice karate, work for the State of Michigan (because insurance, ya know?), blog about SF/F and sexism and LEGOs and whatever else catches my attention, and spend time with my wife and two kids. I’m a relatively new Doctor Who fan, and I would have been dead fifteen years now if not for Doctor Frederick Banting and Charles Best.
Give Us The 140-Character Story Pitch:
Magic-wielding librarian vs 500-year-old book ghosts, plus wendigos, old werewolves, flaming spider, clockwork bugs, and Johannes Gutenberg.
Where Does This Story Come From?
Codex Born is the sequel to Libriomancer, which introduced Isaac Vainio, a librarian living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, who can pull things out of books. We also met the Porters, a secret society of magic-users founded by Gutenberg.
I find the secret magical society trope rather troubling on a number of levels, and having introduced the Porters, now I want to explore some of the implications of their history and existence. I also wanted to look at other possibilities of book magic, and how that magic might have developed differently in other cultures.
It also comes from the fact that librarians are awesome.
How Is This A Story Only You Could’ve Written?
I’d say it’s the combination of the level of humor and snark, along with some of the thematic issues I try to explore. The character of Lena Greenwood, a rather sexy kick-ass dryad, has let me get a little deeper with a number of things that are important to me, from the objectification and sexualization of women to issues of race and body shape. She’s a problematic character in many ways, and I know she hasn’t worked for everyone. That said, she’s supposed to be problematic. If you’re not at least a little troubled by her, especially after reading this book, then I’ve failed as a writer.
Also, I don’t know anyone else who could write Smudge the fire-spider.
What Was The Hardest Thing About Writing Codex Born?
This series has been the most ambitious writing project I’ve ever done. I spent most of my time in book one laying the groundwork, but I’ve got a storyline that’s going to take at least four books, and the scope of the conflict, as well as the things I’m planning to do to these characters and their world…there’s a lot for me to keep track of. I spent a lot of time worrying that my brain would collapse from the weight of the overarching story.
Also, this is the fifth book I’ve written with Smudge, and it’s always a challenge coming up with new things for him to do, but I’m rather pleased with his big scene near the end of this one.
What Did You Learn Writing Codex Born?
Thanks to the help (and tremendous patience) of author Margaret Yang, I came away from this book with a better understanding of Mandarin and how the language is transcribed. I can’t speak or understand it, but I’m hopeful that I reached a point where my characters could speak the language without causing native speakers to read the dialogue and either laugh or stare baffled at the page, trying to understand what I meant to write.
What Do You Love About Codex Born?
I invented a gun that shoots variably-powered lightning bolts for Isaac. It’s awesome.
What Would You Do Differently Next Time?
Probably give more time to the character of Deifilia. There’s a lot I wanted to do with her, but it didn’t fit with the point of view and the focus of the story. (I’d tell you who Defilia is, but that would spoil things.)
Give Us Your Favorite Paragraph From The Story:
I don’t know that this is my favorite, but I tried to keep this PG, and to avoid any major spoilers:
As a general rule, it was safe to assume werewolves were faster and stronger, with sharper senses than any human. And of course, depending on his genetics, Jeff might have anywhere from two to eight nipples under that shirt. Not that I had ever gotten up the nerve to ask. He would have been happy to show me, I’m sure. Werewolves were notoriously open about physical matters.
What’s Next For You As A Storyteller?
I’ve got a pair of short stories to do, and then I’ll be working on the third book of the Magic ex Libris series, which is tentatively called Unbound.