The Librarian's Quest with Robyn Bachar
Author Robyn Bachar invites readers behind the scenes for an up-close look at the paranormal world of her two most recent e-books.
When I began building the supernatural world of The Importance of Being Emily and Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, there were a few must-have details that I wanted. First, it was important to me to not have any “accidental” vampires. If a magician wants to live forever, she’s going to have to study her butt off, put in years of training, and run the risk of the transformation not working at all. Second, I wanted to include a wide variety of paranormal creatures and magic users. Witches, shapeshifters, faeries, sorcerers, seers, librarians—
Yes, librarians. Magic librarians. Even vampire librarians.
Why librarians? I’ll admit, I was a little influenced by the time I’ve spent working in the main library of the University of Illinois. The stacks can be an overwhelming experience, because they’re massive—two buildings, ten floors. (More or less. Ever gotten off an elevator on the 9.5th floor? I have. It does not lead to Hogwarts, sorry.) You’re surrounded by endless rows of books, breathing in stale dust, ducking low light fixtures that threaten to bonk you in the head, and hearing only the shuffle of your footsteps in the eerie silence. My writer’s mind works overtime in the stacks, wondering what secrets are hidden behind aged doors marked “Do Not Enter.” Are tomes of arcane magic tucked between the farm reports? Ancient texts on spells hidden in the rare book room? Who would keep track of these books?
Magic librarians, of course.
In my setting, while witches are off practicing healing spells and sorcerers are perfecting a more destructive fireball, librarians are taking careful notes on their progress and filing them away for future reference. Librarians are the keepers of magician history. They know all the spells, all the dirty secrets of magician politics, and they’ll be happy to share that information with other magicians—for a modest fee.
A librarian’s greatest wish is to join the Order of St. Jerome and become a chronicler, so that he or she can do their job for all eternity and tend a glorious, enormous library of magic. Becoming a chronicler is considered a great honor, something that a librarian works toward his entire life. Of course, in order to live forever chroniclers first need to die a ritual death—which has a good chance of going horribly wrong—and then they need to drink the blood of living magicians to survive. They are a lot like vampires (but chroniclers find the v-word offensive, so shh, don’t tell).
So what happens if a librarian has spent his entire life preparing to become a chronicler, and he suddenly learns that he has a soul mate? And not just any soul mate, but the beautiful, charming woman he’s been secretly pining after for years. That’s Michael Black’s dilemma in The Importance of Being Emily, when he learns, much to his surprise, that his soul’s perfect match is the meddlesome seer Miss Emily Wright. Michael has sworn himself to the Order, and to have a life with Emily means turning his back on everything he’s worked for. As a seer, she can’t join the Order, and he’s faced with a tough decision: Immortality, or true love? What’s a librarian to do?
I hope that readers of The Importance of Being Emily enjoy experiencing his struggle to make that decision as much as I enjoyed torturing him with it.
- Robyn Bachar