Interview with A.J. Hackwith, Author of THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN

I am so excited to welcome A.J. Hackwith to The Debutante Ball. We attended Viable Paradise together in 2016. 

A.J. Hackwith is a magpie of plots, bad ideas, and spite. She is a queer speculative fiction writer who writes contemporary fantasy as A. J. Hackwith and sci-fi romance as Ada Harper.  Her writing has appeared in Uncanny Magazine and various anthologies, and she’s an alumni of Viable Paradise workshop. She’s represented by Caitlin McDonald of Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Amanda lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and her ghosts. She’s a Slytherin girl, a Ravenclaw nerd, and she always takes the renegade interrupts. And really, isn’t that the important things to know?

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In the first book in A.J. Hackwith’s brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories. You can follow Amanda online at:

Her website



And now to the interview!


Tell us about your next big project.

Finishing the series, first off! THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN is the first book in a planned trilogy. I’ve finished the second book, and just starting to draft the final book now. It’s a weird experience–writing the end of a trilogy before the first book is even released.

Have you ever traveled to do research for your writing? Where did you go?

I don’t often get to travel for the purpose of research, but travel inevitably ends up sparking my writing and sneaking in among the details. The city of Mdina in Malta worked out that way. I visited it briefly a few years ago and the sensory signature of the place stuck with me. I have a habit of filling pages of my journal with notes on the experience of places I visit–the little details of sights, sounds, smells that make each city unique.  Later, when I needed a place on earth that felt just a little bit warded from the rest of the world, my sensory notes and memories of Mdina were right there waiting for me.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?

My dad was an avid subscriber of Reader’s Digest and National Geographic, and my mother was an equally avid hoarder. So our basement contained precisely two things: my bedroom, and an absolute wall-to-wall avalanche of dusty books from Reader’s Digest ‘classics’ and National Geographic issues. When I was old enough to go to school and experience the wonder of the Scholastic book orders and libraries, my parents took a laissez faire approach: any book I could read was age-appropriate. As a result, I read far beyond the proscribed school reading, and the library became a second home.  I’ll always be grateful to them for that.

Tell us what you’re looking forward to reading.

One of the fun perks of being an author is getting early copies of books; one of the curses of being an author is never having enough time to read all of them. I’ve got a copy of Gideon the Ninth and The Ten Thousand Doors of January just sitting on my desk, taunting me.

If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?

Embrace the weird. Don’t fight your weirdness-run with it, revel in it. It was my weirdest ideas that got me the farthest. 



In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Available pretty much anywhere books are sold:

B&N | Indiebound | Amazon US |

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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