An Interview with Pearl North

Pearl North is another Michigan author whose far-future trilogy (under this name) is all about the magic of books and the power of libraries. So naturally I had to ask her about LEGOs and dessert preferences, because here on my blog, I’m not afraid to ask the really important questions!

Her newest book is The Book of the Night [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. I wrote a bit about the first book, Libyrinth, here.


1. Let’s start with introductions. In exactly 29 words, who is Pearl North?

Ooh, tricky! Pearl North is the young adult pseudonym of that notorious genre jumping author, Anne Harris. It’s all done with mirrors, actually. Is that twenty-nine words yet?

2. That’s 29, but I think that last bit was cheating. Anyway, this is the third book of the Libyrinth trilogy, which includes a magical library and a librarian—pardon me, a libyrarian—with some amazing gifts. Why are libraries and librarians just so dang awesome?

A book takes up a relatively small space on a shelf, and yet when you open it, you enter a whole new world. So for anyone who loves to read, libraries are a vast realm of possibilities. All of those words and worlds are just awaiting the reader’s exploration. And the librarian is the one with the map, the seasoned navigator guiding you through uncharted waters, the shaman who’s been initiated into the mysteries of the books. Pretty hot, really.

3. All right, let’s get into your books. Tell us about the new one!

In The Book of the Night, Haly travels to Thesia, a clockwork city stuck in time. There she discovers a secret that calls into question everything she thought she knew about her world. Meanwhile Clauda has returned from her own adventure in time and space with another piece of the puzzle. But she may die of thirst in the desert unless Selene can find her in time. And Po is engaged in a battle of wits and will with Queen Thela, who now possesses the Pen, an ancient device that rewrites reality. Thela is determined to revise the world to suit herself, even if it means destroying it in the process. Ultimately, Po, Haly, Clauda and Selene must come to grips with the truth about the Libyrinth, and it will be up to Selene to decide what kind of world she and those she loves will live, or die in.

4. You originally wrote Libyrinth as a standalone. What made you decide to turn it into a trilogy, and now that you’ve finished, what would you say is the heart of that trilogy?

That’s right. However, my editor was adamant that I write a trilogy. It was a bit of a problem for me at first, because (and I’ve said this elsewhere so my apologies if you’ve heard this before) at the end of Libyrinth, I felt that Haly had completed a significant character arc and I really didn’t have more I wanted to do with her at that time. Fortunately, I got the idea to use a minor character from the first book as the protagonist in the second. That’s Po, the “boy from Ilysies.”

The heart of the trilogy. Oh wow. There are so many different ways to answer that. In a very literal sense, the legendary tome entitled The Book of the Night is the heart of the trilogy. From a character standpoint, I would say it’s Selene, because she has been present at so many of the book’s pivotal moments, and because of what happens at the end (but I won’t tell.) But maybe the most sensible and accurate answer is just that the Libyrinth itself is the heart of these books and the world in which they take place.

5. If you had an infinite supply of LEGO bricks, what would you make first?

Infinite, huh? Okay, the TARDIS.

6. What is your favorite bit from the new book? Feel free to share a paragraph or two to make us all fall in love with the writing and rush out to buy our own copies.

Just one? Well, okay. This is from the beginning of the book, so it doesn’t give anything away.

They were close enough now that Selene’s fragrance of ink and wool filled Clauda’s nostrils, making her dizzy. “Do you…” She didn’t know where to begin. The words she wanted to say tangled themselves up in a knot and lodged in her throat, making it hard for Clauda to breathe, let alone speak.

Selene frowned. “Are you all right?”

Clauda nodded.

“Are you having a seizure?  You haven’t had one since the Redemption, have you?”

Clauda shook her head.  She was losing her nerve.  If she didn’t do what she came here for soon, it was never going to happen.  And words were not helping her now.

Selene put a tentative hand on Clauda’s shoulder and leaned down.  “Do you need to sit down?”

Clauda put her hands on Selene’s shoulders and arched upward. She closed her eyes, and pressed her lips to Selene’s.

7. What was the hardest part about writing this trilogy, and how did you get through it?

The complexity of the world I had created. You have no idea. But you will after you read The Book of the Night. I struggled and struggled, trying to make it simpler, and that didn’t work. Eventually, I had to give up and embrace the complexity. Now, I’m actually very happy with the way it came out and I wonder why I gave myself such a hard time about it. LOL.

8. Cheesecake or ice cream sundae? Defend your answer.

I lost my tolerance for dairy this year *sob*, but a Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puff Sundae with butter pecan ice cream is totally worth the pain. Creamy, and crunchy, buttery and sweethot and cold, it’s an orgy of delicous contrasts and a Detroit original.

9. ::Drools:: Ahem. Okay, so what’s next for Pearl North?

She doesn’t have any immediate plans at the moment.

10. Thanks for stopping by the blog and saving me from having to write up my own content today! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for having me. Great questions.

There is one thing I want to mention. Libyrinth got some wonderful attention for having a character of color on the cover, and I was thrilled by it too. It was a total non-issue with my publisher, Tor. With The Book of the Night, we put Selene on the cover, because she’s been an important character all along and she’s a very important character in this final volume. The jacket cover copy, however, focuses on Haly, because she’s been a consistent viewpoint character throughout all three books. I can see how easy it might be to assume that it’s Haly on the cover, looking very different, but that’s not the case. Haly has not been whitewashed. The cover features Selene, and it’s a reasonably accurate representation of what she looks like.