One of the things you don't think much about when you're a baby author just hoping the hand of god will descend out of New York and lift you up into the promised land of publication are interviews. You're going to have to do a lot of interviews. Professional ones for blogs and magazines, sure, but also from readers, at signings and conventions. No one will grill you like a 12-year-old who wants to know how currency works in fairyland. And often, you'll get asked the same questions over and over, which I actually find exciting-what will be The Question for any given book? One always emerges, the thing everyone wants to know. So I thought tonight I'd tell you about something I get asked a lot.
The most popular character in the "Fairyland" series, stalwart protagonist aside, isn't a person. It isnt the charismatic villain or the trickster with the twinkle in his eye. He's a big red fellow named A-Through-L whose mother was a Wyvern and whose father was a library. This makes him, to my knowledge, fairly unique in the annals of literature. He is a Wyverary. When I began talking about the sequel to the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making online, the question I was asked most often by children and adults alike was: will Ell be in it?
And yes, he is loved because he is gigantic and bright red, and funny and loyal, and bashes into things quite a lot, he is popular because he is a Wyvern, which is a fancy way of saying Dragon, and few enough of us have hearts so hard we cannot love a dragon whose great passions in life are books and very fresh radishes, but the thing that makes Ell who he is, that makes him a character so loved that young girls bring hand-knit and crocheted Wyveraries to my signings, is that he is part library.
It's universal and it's instant-invoking a library makes people happy, excited, curious. Because libraries are magical places. They always have been, public or private. Books come from human minds and when you gather that many of them in one space, the space becomes, if you'll forgive the word, holy. Books create their own space and physics, their own psychic presence. For those of us who did not grow up with wealth, libraries were the place you could go to stuff yourself with stories and knowledge and pursue like a bloodhound every little obsession.
Through most of my childhood, my mother was a student, getting her master's in 19th century drama and then her doctorate in political science. That should probably tell you a lot about me as a person. This meant a lot of time spent in university and city libraries, wandering the stacks while my mother did "research," a word which had a glittering, talismanic quality to me when I was very young. It sounded very grown-up, and very interesting, something secret and cabalistic, that smart and beautiful people like my mother and her friends did.
My school friends did not think "research" was as fascinating a game to play at recess as I did.
The full wonderful address here.