Interview with E. C. Hibbs (LIBRORUM)
E.C. Hibbs is a fantasy author from Cheshire, England. She’s been writing for over ten years, as well as performing as a traditional storyteller and appearing at numerous conventions with ever-growing Batty Brigade of readers!
Her novella ‘Librorum’ features in the upcoming ‘Dance with Darkness’ anthology, available from October 17th.
Under cover of darkness, aspiring novelist Violet Fairbank flees her unhappy marriage, desperate to have her life rewritten by a professional wordsmith. However, she soon finds herself in a prison of a different kind: a gigantic library, without windows or doors. Unable to escape, Violet must navigate the twisting passageways, as well as the living fairy tales they contain. And her mysterious captor has a story all his own – a story which will change Violet forever.
Hi Emma – thankyou for chatting today! Let’s start with the basics. Can you share a bit about your story and books? Also the upcoming anthology and your part in it?
My books always have elements of fairy tales, folklore and/or history woven into them, and even though they all fall under the fantasy genre, no two are the same. I like to challenge myself with each new story and step outside my comfort zone.
In regards to Librorum, I was already toying with the idea of a story set inside a giant library: a world governed by writing, but with a love story at its heart. When I saw the call for Dance with Darkness, that became the catalyst I needed. It was a fantastic chance to unleash a Beauty and the Beast-esque tale, with some heavy notes of dark academia!
One thing I’ve noticed in your books – and it’s become a familiar trait that I’m always glad to see – is how much of yourself you put into the stories. Librorum in particular seemed to come straight from the heart (and struck the same chords with me, I think!). I imagine this is intentional, connecting with your audience in such a way?
I’m so glad you noticed that! All my books have pieces of me woven throughout; some obvious, others not so much. They often become capsules – not just of time, but of feelings, memories, observations and questions. First and foremost, the stories are meant to be enjoyed as entertainment. But if others see something which has meaning for them, that’s the greatest honour I can receive.
I love my readers dearly, and I’m so happy that many are creative people. So with Librorum, there’s a reason why I dedicated it to all writers. The literary path – like many creative paths – is often a lonely one. It’s very easy to think you’re not good enough to walk it. In some small way, I wanted this story to reiterate something I firmly believe: not only are you good enough, but if you love what you create, you will never be the only person in the world who does.
I do believe this is why your books have found such a strong audience. Would you like to share the difficulties you’ve had with publishing over the years – and what it’s like now to be able to cosplay with readers at events? As you say, writing can be the loneliest path, and seeing your proud smile behind a stand of gorgeous books always makes me happy!
Thank you! I was first published in 2012, but after the company went out of business, I suddenly found myself adrift, with no guarantee of being picked up again. I decided to pitch every subsequent book to literary agents, and even if they weren’t accepted, I knew my readers were still there, supporting me.
The industry is subjective and competitive, and it’s nothing personal if you don’t receive an offer, so writers need to build a thick skin. Even so, there were times when I felt extremely dejected. However, I realised that in going indie, I had essentially always been making it work. My readers stuck by me, and the book which garnered the most rejections, The Winter Spirits, went on to become my biggest independent seller.
When I first started, events were very difficult to come by. The opportunities simply weren’t there for indie or smaller authors. A lot has changed in the past decade, and I adore attending events, especially Comic Cons and fantasy-themed gatherings. Books aside, those places are my places, and those people are my people. It’s always amazing to meet so many incredible and creative individuals, chat to them, share stories, and admire the cosplays!
A fun one now. If you could meet one of your favourite literary characters in real life for tea and a chat, who would it be? And one of your own characters too!
Oooh how to choose?? The first which came to mind was Jane Eyre. I’ve always loved her character – not only is she strong, but she’s also intelligent and I think any conversation with her would be fascinating. For a more relaxed chat though, I’m picking Samwise Gamgee. The definition of both a hero and perfect best friend!
As for my own characters, either Lilja from The Foxfires Trilogy, or Phoebe from Run Like Clockwork. Both of them have a lot of layers which they don’t let others see at first glance, so it would be nice to see them let those walls down. Interestingly, imagining a chat like this is one of the ways I figure out really complex characters, and it was an invaluable tool when creating those two!
Finally, a deceptively simple question. How would you encourage readers to find their own magic? Other than in a huge otherworldly library, of course!
If you’re already passionate about something – whether that’s writing, art, music, or something else – you’re already halfway there. The most important thing after that is to never stop. That itself might sound deceptively simple, but there’s more to it. Never stop learning. Never stop experimenting. Never stop enjoying. Celebrate your milestones, but remember that the journey doesn’t end, and therein lies the magic. This path can be whatever you want it to be. Along your way, you will find your people – the ones who love your creations with a fire which matches your own. And cover it all with a generous dusting of self-belief, because you matter, just as much as your story.
Thanks so much, Emma!
Dance with Darkness features stories by a roster of international fantasy authors, centred around themes of dark romances, enemies-to-lovers, and entrapment.
The anthology is currently open for pre-order, to be released on October 17th.
Authors in this collection include: USA Today Bestselling Author Rae Hendricks, A.M. Matsuda, E.C. Hibbs, Adrianna Benavides, E.M. Howell, Sai Marie Johnson, Shelli Rosewarne, LaKeah Shannelle, Paige Clendenin, Kasandra Sheckles, J. Kitana, and Ellie Mack.