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Mark Lawrence | The Book That Wouldn't Burn


1--What is the title of your latest release?


This is not a challenge, but if you do manage to burn a copy then the prize is buying yourself a replacement.

2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

My earliest memories are of towering bookshelves and a vast library. I was two and my mother was a librarian. This book tries to capture that magic.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

It always had to be a library. Quite how vast and how old and how strange that library was had yet to be decided. I decided to max it out on all fronts.

4--Would you hang out with your heroine in real life?

There are two point-of-view characters in the book. One is a young girl with a brilliant mind and an excess of personality, the other is a dangerous young man who his family describe as “cursed with kindness”.

The girl, Livira, has a studious and rather repressed friend who she variously shocks, outrages, drives mad, and inspires. I’m like that friend, and like him I’d probably end up following her into trouble.

5--What are three words that describe your hero?

For Livira it’s: brilliant, tenacious, trouble.

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

I learned that writing epigraphs is really fun. I have one for every chapter and wrote all 70 in two days.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

I wait until I’m finished, and generally I only write one draft. For this book though I did do considerably more editing than I have in my previous 18. It still only meant that perhaps 5% was significantly changed from the original.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

I have difficulty with the word “favorite”. I don’t really understand how someone can have a favorite color, for example. All I can do is name a foodstuff I really like. Let’s go for olives. I didn’t like them as a child but somewhere along the line that changed and now I really enjoy the complexity they offer both in flavor and texture.

9--Describe your writing space/office!

I write in a small room lined with bookcases. The view is of our back garden and the gardens of the houses beyond. The bookcases contain my fantasy collection from M to Z and a large number of my own books (English versions only – I’m published in 25 languages and many of those copies languish in boxes waiting to be wanted.).

There’s also a printer which holds the record for having had more of my death threats than any other object &/or person.


Me: I want to scan this document.

Printer: I’m out of cyan ink. So no.

Me: But a scan doesn’t need-


10--Who is an author you admire?

Josiah Bancroft – I love his prose and the story of how he got into print is both cautionary and inspiring.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

I’m sure there are many. I can’t identify which book cemented my interest in fantasy, but if I could it would be that one. It might be “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak which was a bedtime storybook I got when I was 2 or 3. Or it might be “The Lord of the Rings” which my mother read to me when I was 7.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)

Well, if we’re talking about this current book that would be rather dull. I have had nearly 20 books published after all. I just got an email from my agent and said, “cool” then carried on with my day.

When I got my first, rather lucrative, book deal back in 2010 it was a phone call from my agent. I was sitting with my very disabled daughter, Celyn, on my lap and I listened rather disbelievingly while he talked about bidding wars and six-figure sums.

After the call I carried my daughter to the kitchen to tell my wife. She saw my face and was convinced that Celyn had died (always a possibility with the severity of her condition). Apparently, I’m not very good at looking happy.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

Fantasy. Which is why I write it. I like books that can match, or even exceed, my imagination.

14--What’s your favorite movie?

More “favorite” questions. There are movies I watch multiple times because maybe they’re clever or comforting or awe-inspiring. But the one I’m going to name is one I’ve only watched a couple of times.

My tastes, whilst skewing towards the more intellectual end of the spectrum, are fairly mainstream. This is good because I write primarily to entertain myself, and it’s fortunate my tastes match with those of a lot of other people or my books would sell poorly.

That’s a long walk to say that my favorite movie is also #1 on the IMDB.com “Greatest Movies of all Time” chart, voted on by millions of people.

It’s The Shawshank Redemption. In the end what matters most to me is character stories.

15--What is your favorite season?

Summer. I don’t like to be too hot, but I prefer it to being too cold or being rained on.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

I try to avoid that.

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

I really liked The Last of Us which aired recently. The game on which it is closely based is my favorite video game of all time, primarily because it has a wonderfully strong and wonderfully told story running through it – something I’ve very rarely seen in games. Also, I have soft spot for zombie movies/games.

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Statistically it’s Indian. I love a good tarka dahl with pilau rice.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

I never really have free time – I should always be writing. That’s the curse of being self-employed. But I do occasionally force myself to take some time off and play a computer game (The Last of US part 2 was the most recent one). Much of the time I’m not writing in is frittered away on the internet in between short bursts of writing. I waste so much time on social media, youtube etc.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

Book 2 and Book 3 of The Library trilogy! They’re already written and since finishing them I’ve written another completely different book and started a new one after that. Gotta keep ahead of those deadlines!


The Library Trilogy

The Book That Wouldn't Burn

Two strangers find themselves connected by a vast and mysterious library containing many wonders and still more secrets, in this powerfully moving first book in a new series from the international bestselling author of Red Sister and Prince of Thorns.

The boy has lived his whole life trapped within a book-choked chamber older than empires and larger than cities.

The girl has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust, where nightmares stalk and no one goes.

The world has never even noticed them. That’s about to change.

Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time. This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.

Fantasy [Ace, On Sale: May 9, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593437919 / eISBN: 9780593437933]

Buy THE BOOK THAT WOULDN'T BURNAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science ... oh wait, it actually is'. Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY. The Prince of Thorns is his first published novel. It is the beginning of a projected trilogy following the fortunes of Honorous Jorg Ancrath.

Red Queen's War | Book of the Ancestor





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