Interview with Scott Hawkins, author of The Library at Mount Char
29 Jul 2015
Tell us a little bit about your new release, The Library at Mount Char.
The Library at Mount Char is a mystery set in a kinda-sorta magic library. When the story opens, a very powerful guy has gone missing. His adopted children have looked everywhere, and they’re starting to entertain the notion that something might have happened to him. The story focuses on Carolyn, who is the quietest and most studious of the bunch.
It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
I’d probably read, or play fetch with my dogs. Maybe both at the same time—I listen to a lot of audio books.
What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?
That’s a tough question. Most of the fictional worlds I enjoyed the most aren’t really places you’d want to go on vacation. The Stand is one of my favorite stories, but the odds are against me being one of the lucky 0.6% who are immune to the Superflu. I’d like to explore the post-apocalyptic USA and head up to Boulder, but I’d probably start sneezing as soon as I got there.
I think I’ll pick Madeline L’Engle’s Earthsea. It seems like the sort of place you can get around in without being anybody special. I’d like boats, and it would be fun to check out the magic library on Gont. For my money, that’s the original.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Up until I was maybe ten or eleven, I was very keen on growing up to be Iron Man. I figured if I really put my mind to it, I could build that suit. I think I even tried to do something along those lines for a science fair once. Also, bear in mind that this was in the 1970s, so no one but wee little nerds like me had ever heard of Tony Stark. I was really tickled when they made that first movie.
My first realistic—well, semi-realistic—career goal was to be a writer. That hit when I was about twelve or thirteen.
Where did you write The Library at Mount Char? (your couch, a coffee shop, a bar… hey – we won’t judge)
Almost all the actual typing was done in the lower level of a split-foyer house I was living in at the time, kind of a finished basement that I used as an office-slash-library. I’ve got big hands, so I can’t type very well on a tablet or even a laptop. But when I’m really going on a book, I don’t think about much else. I’m always coming up with little one-liners or paragraphs or whatever. I carry around a note pad to jot stuff down. I didn’t do any of it in bars that I recall. I’m not against them, but I can’t really write when I drink. Or, rather, I write just fine, but it’s usually not worth keeping.
What is the one movie that you can quote the most?
Well, there are a lot of them. If I like a movie, I tend to put it on as background noise while I think about other stuff, the same way another person might listen to music. So there are a couple of dozen movies that I have more or less memorized. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be Big Trouble in Little China. That came out in, I think, 1986. I still watch it all the way through every couple of months.
What’s something you’re truly terrible at doing?
I am just spectacularly bad at navigating. Utterly hopeless. The invention of GPS saved me probably a couple of weeks of driving around lost every year. Until I got a GPS I used to budget an hour or so for wrong turns into the travel time whenever I had to go to a new place.
What’s your favorite line from The Library at Mount Char?
There’s a couple towards the back of the book that I might like a little better, but they’re spoiler-y. This one is the last line of chapter one. I like it because it gives a nice visual focal point for everything that’s happened so far, and hints at what’s to come.[Carolyn’s] fingertips trembled with the memory of faint, fading vibrations carried down the shaft of a brass spear, and in her heart the hate of them blazed like a black sun.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
You haven’t failed until you give up trying.
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