Book - The God of Lost Words

The God of Lost Words, the final book of the bestselling Hell's Library trilogy by A J Hackwith, is out now thanks to Titan Books. We are very lucky today to share an exclusive article from the author called These Paper Dolls, They Burn: Modern Mythmaking in Hard Times...

During June of 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and the subsequent turmoil that followed, a popular comment I saw passed around Twitter (now lost to the ages - I looked but failed to find it again) was that no one should be surprised that the young people are rising up.

Why should older generations be surprised that it’s teenagers standing up to protest injustice, police brutality, abuse of power, authoritarian governments, or corrupt business practices? We’ve been fed a steady diet of YA heroines and heroes our entire lives - the teenagers are the only hero stories we’ve ever known.

The younger generation is just following their own myths, the myths we made them.

It’s a time of myth making. I don’t think I’m being too dramatic, or at least not unnecessarily so. It’s the time of world-wide pandemics, civil unrest, deep inequality, climate disasters, and a generation fights for rights the previous took for granted. Old worlds end and new normals struggle to assert themselves.

In the old days, as they say, it would be a time of monsters. I say it’s a time of myth making, and we are natural born mythmakers. Don’t believe me?

We used to tell myths to explain the world: what makes thunder? Why does it rain? When will the days grow longer again? We still do that, only our questions have changed: why does that person hate me? Why can’t I use the bathroom I need to? When will the pandemic be over? When can I see my friends again?

Allow me to make clear that when I talk about myths here, I’m not talking about things that are patently untrue. Myths can be factual, or thought false then proven later true, or not. Myths can be stories that become more, or realities that fade into stories. The fate of a myth lies entirely in the hands of the people who hear them.

The stories we tell make our myths, make our gods, give us power. I don’t think it’s too hard to explain that to the younger generations. Millennials and younger are well versed in memes, the way even the slightest, most nonsense of an idea can sprout, find roots with one group of people and grow, evolve, and quickly change meaning. Sometimes it mutates.

Trust the plan, the conspiracy world of Qanon tells its followers, those the details change. That their president is coming back, that JFK Jr. is coming back, that some shadowy hero is coming back, to turn back things to a time that never was. This, too, is a myth. Sometimes myths don’t need monsters to terrorize the world.

The difference between stories and myths is the power we give them. Stories, granted power, can become myths. Myths are stories granted power, whether it’s the power to explain something - why the leaves change color or what makes thunder so loud - or the power to foresee change - via the Heroine, the Wizard, the Prophet characters. The YA teen heroine character. When we tell stories often enough to wear rub lines into our imagination, to believe in it, if only just a little, if only just for a minute, that’s when stories become myths.

And when the myths take to the streets, that’s when the whole world trembles.

Thank you again very much to AJ Hackwith and Titan Books for a fascinating article. You can find out more about AJ Hackwith on her website or follow her on Twitter.


To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first.

Claire, rakish Hero, angel Rami, and muse-turned-librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, in its quest for power Hell will be coming for every wing of the Library.

To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. Succeeding would mean rewriting the nature of the Library, but losing would mean obliteration. Their only chance at survival lies in outwitting Hell and writing a new chapter for the Library. Luckily, Claire and her friends know how the right story, told well, can start a revolution.

The God of Lost Words is available now from Titan Books

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