Fans of acclaimed novelist Anthony Doerr will want to pick up this incredible saga, which takes the reader through time and space as it follows the journey of a single manuscript.

There are several different threads and storylines in this novel. Where did you start and how did the overall idea come to you?

“While I was writing my last book, All the Light We Cannot See, which is set primarily in a walled city, I did some reading about the history of walls, and most every book would mention the walls of Constantinople: colossal mega-walls that encircled the city for 1,100 years and successfully withstood 23 sieges. And I had never heard of them! So as soon as I finished All the Light, I started reading about Byzantium. Once I learned that Byzantine libraries were able to flourish because of the protection those walls afforded—and that we only have many Greek and Roman classics today because of Constantinople—that’s when I decided to try to tell a story about how a single manuscript survives over the centuries.”

Which storyline was your favourite to write and what research did you need to do for it?

“Probably Anna’s. She’s a bright, literate 15th-century girl who grows up in Constantinople at a time when girls were not encouraged to be bright or literate. I read as much as I could about life in the 1400s: travellers’ accounts, historians’ chronicles, etcetera. The Middle Ages were mostly glossed over in my education, so I had a great time travelling back into a world of merchant ships and embroidery needles and demons and fairies and angels.”

What is the common thread that links these characters from different times and places together?

“All five protagonists are keenly curious; they all (eventually) behave with decency and courage; and they all love stories. I hope that by interweaving their stories, I was able to create a whole series of resonances between their lives and that readers will begin to sense how even the smallest actions we take in our lives now can alter the lives of people who haven’t been born yet.”

The power of storytelling is obviously at work here; can you share the importance of storytelling to you?

“Stories are our best tool for airlifting ourselves out of our own lives and into the lives of others. Without stories, we’d all be trapped inside the confines of our own experiences. But because of them, we’re able to understand that others—no matter where and when they were born, no matter how rich or poor—are not so different from us. They fall in love, they get lost, they become afraid.”

What do you hope readers take from this novel?

“That no matter how separate we might seem—whether because of culture, space or time—we are all connected to each other, to the people who walked this planet long before us and to the people who will walk it long after we’re gone. I believe that the more we can remember how much we’re all in the same boat—the more we can train ourselves to imagine, recognize and remember our connections—the better off we’ll be.”

Be sure to pick up Cloud Cuckoo Land for an exciting read.