With The Girl And The Moon (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), writer Mark Lawrence is concluding The Book Of The Ice trilogy he launched in 2020 with The Girl And The Stars and continued in 2021 with The Girl And The Mountain. In the following email interview, Lawrence discusses the conclusion to his epic fantasy series.
Photo Credit: Nick Williams
For people who didn’t read the first two books, what is The Book Of The Ice series about, and what kind of a world is it set in?
The trilogy is about a girl, Yaz, whose focus has been bound tightly to a tenuous existence on the icesheet, and how her experience and understanding of the world changes rapidly as — Google-Earth-like — the scale button is clicked to encompass an ever-larger world and story.
The books have a theme of hanging on to humanity in the face of implacable pressure to do otherwise. On the ice existence is so precarious that logic dictates there’s no room for weakness, and yet Yaz refuses to surrender to the draconian solutions her society adopts. A starting point for her character was to have someone who would care about these sorts of things and to have the courage to try to do something about it.
The world is ice-bound with a dying sun. There is rumored to be a very narrow girdle around the equator where the ice doesn’t yet reach.
And then for people who have read them, and thus can ignore me “yelling” SPOILER ALERT, what is The Girl And The Moon about?
Well, even the people who have read the previous two books shouldn’t get spoiled about the contents of the third. My policy is to let them read it. I know — and it makes me shudder — that there are people who, given a new book, will turn to the last page to see how it ends. I consider this to be evil, and refuse to aid and abet such behavior.
Seriously though, I won’t spoil people even if they want to be spoiled. They’ll have to look for that elsewhere. When I come to write the back cover blurb I do my very best to resist publisher inducements to include facts concerning what the book is about, I aim to convey the mood of the piece and leave it at that.
When in the process of writing The Girl And The Stars and The Girl And The Mountain did you come up with the idea for The Girl And The Moon?
At no point. I make stories up as I write them. I may have vague and changeable ideas about the general direction of travel — south, in the case of this trilogy — but there’s no particular idea for book 3 when I’m writing book 1 or 2.
Now, the press materials for The Girl And The Moon call it an epic fantasy story. But it and the other books take place on an alien world called Abeth. Why are these novels epic fantasy stories and not science fiction? Or science fantasy?
People like a label. That’s pretty much it.
Are there any writers, or particular stories, that had a big influence on The Girl And The Moon but not on The Girl And The Stars or The Girl And The Mountain? Or, for that matter, any of your other novels?
Nope. The only influences I’m consciously aware of are for the initial broad strokes of the main characters in my first two trilogies: Jorg from The Broken Empire was inspired by Alex from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, while Jalan from The Red Queen’s War was inspired by Harry Flashman from George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels.
How about non-literary influences; was The Girl And The Moon influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
Also nope. I should try to incorporate some of that stuff in future to make for a more interesting interviewee.
Now, as we’ve been discussing, The Girl And The Moon is the third and final book of The Book Of The Ice series. Which means some people will consider reading all three books back-to-back. Do you think this is the best way to take in this tale?
I guess that depends on how good your memory is and how well it is refreshed by the catchups I put at the front of Stars and Mountain. Some people like to take a break between volumes. That’s not a bad thing.
You said earlier that The Girl And The Moon hadn’t been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But do you think Moon and The Book Of The Ice saga could work as a series of movies, a TV show, or a game?
I’d enjoy seeing what other people make of my stories in other formats. I would also enjoy spending the money they pay me for the privilege of doing it. I also like (in theory) seeing my favorite tales from other authors represented in film and TV series (less so games). But in general, I feel that something written to the intended purpose is best. You likely make a better film when the story is written for the express purpose of making a film — it should exploit the strengths of the medium best and avoid the weaknesses. Similarly, a game benefits from a story crafted to support a game, rather than the game being framed in support of an existing story that never knew it was going to be a game.
So if someone did offer you money to turn The Book Of The Ice trilogy into some movies, who would you want them to cast as Yaz and the other main characters?
No idea. I’ve zero idea about actors. I couldn’t identify any actor who’s not a household name, and they tend to be 50+, too old for most of my characters. I’ve had a lot of (ultimately fruitless so far) approaches from high-powered individuals in Hollywood, and I’m pretty much done with it. They certainly like to talk.
If anything comes of the current options then I’m entirely happy to sit back and wait to watch it with everyone else. I wouldn’t want to get involved. It’s all too changeable and emotional for my tastes. They can keep the behind-screen dramas, and I’ll enjoy the intentional drama from the other side.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about The Girl And The Moon or The Book Of The Ice series?
The trilogy concludes a number of threads that link all of my trilogies so far. These are background connections, and you absolutely can enjoy The Book Of The Ice without ever knowing they exist. On the other hand, if you read my other work, before or after, you may be rewarded with extra sprinkles on top.
Finally, if someone enjoys The Girl And The Moon and The Book Of The Ice series, which of your other series would you suggest they read and why that one?