How did “Guidelines for Using the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library” originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
Widener is a real library, and a really weird one in many ways, although renovations since my undergraduate days have tidied up things like the passageway that literally went out a window. I’m a folklorist by training and inclination, so it wasn’t hard to take the structural oddities and graft on some additional weirdness.
Where are you in this story?
I’m in 1999, doing research somewhere in the stacks and realizing that I can’t get to the other half of the floor I’m on without going up a level first. Or trying to find the Hebrew-language children’s books I’m supposed to be pulling to send to the library’s off-site auxiliary and grumbling because they’re too narrow to have numbers on the spines and are completely out of order.
Is there anything you want to make sure readers noticed?
The story is full of easter-egg references to folklore, children’s books from the 1980s, and so forth, but honestly, those are more fun to spot on your own.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Persistence! It’s the name of the game. We live in a world that increasingly pushes instant gratification, but writing and publishing remain a field where you may need to try and try again before you succeed. The good news is, that helps you grow.
Other than writing, do you have any other creative pursuits? What do you do to relax?
My main creative pursuits are photography and tabletop role-playing games. I also practice karate, in part because a physical hobby is a very good idea for anybody whose full-time job involves sitting in a chair and inhabiting the world inside their own skull.
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
Due to a collision of publishing schedules, I’m going to have not one, not two, but three books out this year! The Game of 100 Candles (sequel to The Night Parade of 100 Demons) is out on March 7th, Labyrinth’s Heart (third and final book of the Rook and Rose trilogy, co-written with my friend Alyc Helms as M.A Carrick–see macarrick.com) is coming on August 15th, and then The Waking of Angantyr (a stand-alone) will complete the set on October 10th. You can find out about all of these on my website, swantower.com, and follow me on Twitter @swan_tower. (I’m in the process of getting set up on Mastodon, but need some free time first!) I also have a long-running Patreon, New Worlds (patreon.com/swan_tower), which is all about anthropology, folklore, and worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy.
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