My goodness me – the price of conversion of methane into cheap fossil fuels – is … the abolition of the established religions. What will Ailsa Abraham think of next! I just can’t wait to get my hands on her new book, to see how she works that out. The launch is on 31st January, and if you want to experience an expert virtual event with wisecracks and whistles, jingles and competitions, I strongly recommend you come and JOIN us!
Meanwhile Ailsa gives us a little behind-the-scenes taster of the rationale behind “Alchemy.”
“Start your novel with a bang! Hook the reader from the very first sentence.” That was the advice I followed when writing Shaman’s Drum, so it dived straight into the action, referring to past history along the way but concentrating on the adventure at hand. This was all well and good but readers were dissatisfied and wanted to know the background to it all, so I can honestly say that this book was written in response to public demand.
Alchemy – the search for the secret of turning base metal into gold. The title refers to a scientific discovery which allows the commercial conversion of methane to a cheap alternative to fossil fuels. The price of implementing this world-changing system, which works on waste products, is the abolition of the established religions. This move is designed to end war and terrorism. This explains the situation at the beginning of Shaman’s Drum where “The Changes” have been in place for some time.
Prequels can be harder than sequels in that loose ends don’t just have to be tied up, they have to be linked back. New characters who didn’t appear in the other book must be introduced and their subsequent disappearance explained. My hardest job, however, being a total science thickie was the chemistry. For that I had recourse to my husband a nuclear, electronic and electrical engineer. Fortunately he knew all about alternative fuels.
Far from writing it as a prequel being a disadvantage, it gave me the chance to make Alchemy a much more rounded and complete novel, introducing sub plots, parallel stories and interesting new history. Everyone wanted to know about Iamo and Riga’s early lives, how they had grown up and how they had come to fall in love in the first place, seeing as they were imprisoned for that crime at the start of Shaman’s Drum.
Three separate couples appear in this novel, one stable and happy, one tentative and seemingly impossible and the two main characters from Shaman’s Drum who do not fall in love until the end of Alchemy. I had to dredge my memory for my own training in Wicca and first steps in shamanism to write about the young people’s education, given that the Black Shamans are a military enclosed society and consequently more strict.
Dealing with demons had figured largely in Shaman’s Drum so the story centres around their return, with the absence of organised religion to oppose them. It raises interesting philosophical questions on the purpose and nature of religions in general.
It isn’t often that an author can say that they are 100% happy with their work but, having spent nearly a year on Alchemy, I am. The cover artwork, designed by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat is particularly stunning. I cannot wait for the release in paperback and e-book on 31st January.