The World of All Souls hit the New York Times bestseller list shortly after being released. We caught up with author Deb Harkness on the book tour to learn more about how the book was made.
I was lucky enough to make it to one of Deb Harkness’s The World of All Souls book tour stops, this one at Towne Book Center Wine Bar and Cafe. (A bookstore with wine!) In addition to talking generally about the tour and reading the first chapter of the upcoming Time’s Convert, Deb gave details about the making of the best-selling book and what All Souls fans can look forward to.
In an All Souls version of that adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” it took a team to make The World of All Souls compendium come to life. The reason to make this book was simple, Deb told the standing-room-only crowd. “It was clear that you loved inhabiting this world,” she said, “so this is a gift from me and the team of authors. I’m their ambassador.”
Making The World of All Souls a team rather than a solo effort was, in part, to keep Deb sane during the process. “I would have had to write a non-fiction book about my fiction,” she joked. “That was one too many pretzel twists for this brain.”
Team All Souls is comprised of Claire Baldwin, Lisa Halttunen, Jill Hough and illustrator Colleen Madden. Lots of information came from Deb’s four-drawer file cabinet. “It’s where I chuck things,” she said. Those “things” include the floor plan for Sept-Tours and an old birthday book in which Deb had put all Ysabeau’s important dates.
The book is filled with Easter eggs, those hidden messages and inside jokes that started in movies but now can also be found in books like this one. (The term “Easter Egg” may have originated from actual eggs on the set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The cast apparently had an Easter egg hunt on set and didn’t find at least three eggs that appear in the movie.) “You all are the ultimate Easter egg hunters,” Deb said of little goodies readers should be on the lookout for. “You all have caught on to this scavenging.”
“No two people will read the book the same way,” she continued. “That’s okay. It will draw you in as you discover it. Just as you can’t put your foot in the same river, you can never read the same book the same way twice.”
Other tidbits from the evening:
• The Serpent’s Mirror, the story of Matthew’s 16th century life before 1590, which was originally going to be released before Time’s Convert, is not dead. “It’s resting. Like Matthew, it’s a lot more complicated than I thought.”
• Marcus’s book, Time’s Convert, which comes out September 18, has three narratives: one on Marcus and his past, one on Diana, Matthew and the twins when they’re about 18 months old, and one on Phoebe Taylor’s transition from warm blood to vampire.
• Other All Souls books are possible. “Those are not the only stories I can imagine telling you from this world,” Deb said. “Serpent’s Mirror is likely in the batter’s box next.” And for the Phillipe fans out there? “I’m not sure Phillipe is the best person to tell Phillipe’s story but I know so much about him,” she said. “It’s so cool to have imaginary friends.”
• On when the TV show will announce its American distributor: “No one has forgotten America exists.” Big corporations take time to make decisions, Deb said, noting she has seen one finished episode. (The first season — all fingers crossed that the whole series is done — will have eight episodes in all. The series will always be called A Discovery of Witches, even when — see what we did there? — subsequent seasons are ordered.)
• Book purists need to take a chill pill. The TV show will be somewhat different from the book, Deb warned, “and some [changes] will make you quite fractious.” But the books, Deb reminded the audience, are in Diana’s head. “This does not make for riveting viewing.” What, for instance, do Marcus and Matthew talk about in the lab about Diana and her results. “You have to trust me.”
Deb also answered questions from the audience. Here are a few random tidbits from that.
• Deb was asked if Walt Disney was a daemon and if any presidents were vampires? The short answer? Not likely on either score.
• Jennifer Ikeda, who narrated the All Souls trilogy, did not narrate The World of All Souls, which is already available in an audio version. (Insert sad emoji.) Deb recalled picking Jennifer as the trilogy narrator, noting there were four audition tapes.”The minute I heard hers, I knew she was Diana.” Jen is interested in performing Time’s Convert but may not be available. “Endings, beginnings and change — we all have to embrace the spirit of Phillipe” and let it go and be open to new readers, Deb said.
• “I had no control,” Deb said of the TV show. “I had veto power on certain storyline changes, but I used real discretion.” Sometimes what works on print doesn’t translate well or easily into TV production, Deb noted, citing the much-loved yoga scene as an example. “There was no good way to do the yoga scene so it’s not in,” she said. “Rather than do a crappy one, we didn’t do it.” (Insert crying emoji.)
• On Matthew being Matthew Roydon in an earlier life. “He’s like the Forrest Gump of Elizabethan England,” she said, noting she always knew Matthew would be Matthew Roydon. Gallowglass, in contrast, was a total surprise.
• Deb blames an academic mid-life crisis of sorts for the book series. She had published her second academic book, been promoted to full professor, and was researching her next book. “I was at the point of my career where I was at the top of the food chain,” she recalled. “I took a hand grenade and pulled the plug in my life.” She started the series with this basic question in mind: If there really are vampires, what do they do for a living and why don’t I know any?
• Deb never wanted to be a writer. “In Little Women, my favorite character was Amy.” (For those who are not Little Women fans, Amy was the youngest March sister while Jo was the writer.)
• On the series’ ending. “I always knew the ending but at a certain point I had to stop,” she said. “It’s like knitting. I had to reach the stage to start casting off.”
• On Matthew Goode as Matthew de Clairmont. She didn’t have an actor in mind but when Matthew Goode walked in and started to talk, “That was it. The minute he opened his mouth there was nobody else.”
Hear what else Deb had to say by watching our video below.
Have you read The World of All Souls yet? Were there any surprises for you?
What Easter eggs did you find?