The Alchemist of London – Plot Teaser

 

The Alchemist of London cover reveal

Pre-order now – release date 17 April 2020

Well, 2020 got off to a rocky start. I thought March had turned the corner, but now I don’t know what’s happening. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Now for some good news and escapism. The Alchemist of London is finished and the ebook is available for pre-order. Add it to your want-to-read list on Goodreads or find your pre-order copy here.

The Alchemist of London will be published on 17 April 2020. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the first book in the series,  The Alchemist of Paris, the ebook is currently on sale for 99 cents (and also free on Kindle Unlimited). 

Spoilers ahead…..

The Alchemist of London follows the story of Elise’s years in London and follows on from the events in Paris.

In Victorian London a young woman hides a book in a library, hoping it will never be found…

In modern day London the same book appears at an international auction…

The pages contain priceless secrets which will obsess and transform all those who read them.

Haunted by the fire in Paris, Elise has at last found peace in the English countryside. 

But her idyll is broken when a ruthless gentleman learns of a book by the elusive Albert Price – and uncovers Elise’s secret.

The book is hidden somewhere in Victorian London. Elise must not only find it before her enemies, but also face her own destiny – in a world where the secrets of alchemy are in greater danger than ever before.

Meanwhile as auction day approaches in modern London, and the book is in peril again, can Ellie unravel the Victorian mystery in time?

Have a hot cuppa and take care!

The Alchemist of London Cover Reveal

The Alchemist of London book cover

The Alchemist of London – Cover Reveal

The Alchemist of London, the next book in The Alchemist of Paris series, is coming soon! Here is the wonderful cover designed by Adriana Hanganu of Adipix Design.

The Alchemist of London follows the story of Elise’s years in London (for all the Elise fans out there) and is full of more century-hopping mystery!

In Victorian London, a young woman hides a book in a library, hoping it will never be found…

… in modern day London the same book appears at an international auction.

The book contains priceless secrets which will obsess, inspire and transform all those who read it.

You can find a copy of first book, The Alchemist of Paris here (small spoilers ahead). Here is a preview of the plot of The Alchemist of London:

Having fled Paris after the fire, Elise has found sanctuary in a garden in the English countryside. But her idyll is broken with the discovery of century old letters, revealing the existence of the only book ever written by the alchemist, Albert Price.

With the book hidden somewhere in Victorian London, Elise must face her fears and plunge into the new century.

As ruthless adversaries pursue the book across the centuries, can she unravel the mystery in time and keep the secrets of alchemy safe?

***

Happy 2020 everyone!

Flashback – A never published scene from The Alchemist of Paris

The Alchemist of Paris

When I was sorting through my papers, I found this scene from an early draft of The Alchemist of Paris. 

Young housemaid Elise and her mysterious master are walking through the pre-dawn streets of 19th century Paris. Although there are familiar points, this scene has an alternative plot line. Can you spot three changes from the final novel? (Answers below!)

* * * * *

The sun had not risen and the sky over Paris was a dim blue. In the narrow lanes of the Île de la Cité, shadows obscured the path, although the promise of dawn was not far away.

Elise gazed wistfully at the sky, wishing the sun would rise. There was something uneasy about that morning, something troubling about her employer who walked beside her in his fine cloak. But there had been something troubling about him from the first moment she had entered his employ, this tall brooding figure with a smooth young face but old eyes. Then there was the strange mansion in Le Marais and the Englishman who had followed her, wanting to know more about the master of the house – almost as though he were hunting him down.

“I miss the sweet light of dawn,” her master murmured as a golden glow seeped over the rooftops.

They descended into the deep shadows by the Seine. He stopped, glancing around quickly, “Elise, I need your help. I know you are clever, which is why I summoned you from the orphanage. I will be leaving Paris soon and I need you to look after my affairs.”

“I do not understand, Monsieur.”

“Here is the address where you must take refuge tonight.”

“Will I not return to the house?”

“After your errands, yes. But you must leave before evening. We may meet again,” he raised his hand and gently brushed away a lose strand of her hair, “Goodbye, Elise. You will understand everything soon.”

Her eyelids lowered. When she opened her eyes she was all alone by the river. The crumpled note was in her hand – that night she was to go to Père Lachaise Cemetery, Rue de Repos.

* * * * *

Three changes:

In the final novel, it is the aristocrat Jean-Louis Champillon, not the alchemist, who finds Elise in the orphanage.

There is no English alchemist hunter in The Alchemist of Paris (although maybe this is a character for a future story). In the final novel one of the other characters assumes part of this role.

The alchemist doesn’t ask Elise to go to the cemetery, although this too is intriguing!

Ghost Stories – scary but not too scary

Happy Halloween everyone. If you like stories that are scary, but not too terrifying, “Four Ghost Stories” is now free on Amazon – but be quick as it is only free until 31 October 2018!

Then do the quiz on Goodreads!Four Ghost Stories

Four chilling ghost stories to send shivers down your spine! The Druids’ Circle – A London financier seeks peace and quiet in the English countryside.  However his isolated country house is overlooked by a stand of yew trees, which soon begin to exert a bizarre and evil power over him… Death and Life – In a quaint village pub, a sinister stranger engages in a contest for the lives and souls of unsuspecting travelers… The Curse of Glenhorpe – An old titled family is haunted by a curse placed upon them by a vengeful Norman knight…  Tell Me What You See – A young woman stumbles across psychic messages, which reveal a possible murder…

Get your copy here

And lastly, here is a magnificent – and suitably spooky – moon I saw from my window the other evening.

An Observer’s Guide to Understanding Author Behaviour

Modern cities and towns offer many opportunities to observe and analyse human and animal behaviour. Below is an example of one rare but increasing specimen you may encounter – the author.

Activity: Impromptu dancing, playing with imaginary drumsticks.

Where: Usually in the author’s living room. (If occurring elsewhere, be worried).

Probable Cause: The author’s book has received a good review. Even a positive rating on Goodreads can induce this behaviour.

Action: Wait until dance subsides, expect to be informed of good news and react accordingly.

* * *

Activity: Contented smile, clear eyes, dreamy expression

Where: Home, supermarket or public transport.

Probable Cause: Writing is going well and plot problems are solved.

Action: Do nothing, as author may still be “in the zone” and need to return to desk/writing nook suddenly.

Activity: Author sullen, eyes downcast

Where: Chance encounter with author on the street.

Probable Cause: Many. The author may have looked at their sales reports or received a snarky review. Behaviour may occur around the time a real-world bill is due, and author may be reflecting on their income.

Action: Be upbeat, do not mention writing or other stressful topics. The true author will quickly recover as a spark of creativity lifts their spirits.

* * *

Activity: Author’s mouth drops open, eyes widen and swivel to nearest writing implement.

Probable Cause: Inspiration has struck.

Where: Literally anywhere.

Action: If behaviour occurs in a domestic environment, ensure the author has a clear path to a writing desk and small children/pets are distracted. If in a work meeting, slip your writer buddy a piece of paper and field questions from the boss, until the author is finished scribbling down ideas.

Activity: Author’s hair is uncombed, clothes crumpled, cannot recall when they last ate.

Where: Coffee shops, parties.

Probable cause: Writer’s block.

Action:  A serious condition, which if untreated, can end friendships. Gently encourage author to join you in an uplifting activity such as walking in the park, along the beach or watching a movie. It may take some time for this condition to lift, but the author will soon be showing behaviours suggestive of inspiration, as described above.

* * * * *

Have you noticed any author behaviour that needs an expert’s opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

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And finally – If you like to read historical mystery/romances with a hint of the supernatural, “In the Time of the Forest” is free on Amazon for the next few days. Don’t forget to do the Goodreads quiz afterwards 🙂

Sequels, Prequels and Interquels

Be careful, the note said, for I had found a phantom. Albert Price had been known across Europe for the past fifty years, although if he were real or a legend, no one knew. – The Alchemist of Rome

When your main character has lived for centuries, are your books sequels, prequels or interquels?

The Alchemist of Paris and The Alchemist of Rome – plus some coffee rings on the table, evidence of the many cups of coffee consumed during writing!

The Alchemist of Paris is set in 1820, and centres around a mysterious scientist called Albert Price. In one scene, he tells the heroine, Elise, that he had lived in Rome many years before. After I finished the Paris story, I began to wonder. What had happened to Price in Rome? Who had he met? Was there a villain who had pursued him – a bad alchemist, the opposite of Price?

Sequel – a story continuing or expanding from an earlier work but complete in itself (Lord of the Rings Trilogy; Twilight Series)

Prequel – a story describing events prior to the story

Interquel – a story describing events that takes place in a period between two other books

The Alchemist of Rome is therefore the sequel and the prequel to The Alchemist of Paris. It tells the story of Albert Price’s time in Rome in the 1760s – the era of the Grand Tour when European aristocrats were re-discovering the ancient world, and the elixir of life seemed entirely believable.

Being immortal, maybe some of Price’s acquaintances survived until this day. Perhaps a modern-day tourist would meet one of these immortals, and cross paths with some other characters from The Alchemist of Paris.

I hope readers can read the books in any order, as they are both complete stories.

Now I’ve finished, I realized three of my characters, Albert Price, Elise and Antonio, lived in England in the 19th century. Another sequel (or prequel or interquel) is forming in my mind – a gas-lamp mystery called The Alchemist of London perhaps?

*  *  *  *  *

The ebook of The Alchemist of Paris is on sale for 99 cents until early next week.

Quiet Rome – 5 Special Places in the Eternal City

Rome has been a destination for visitors for centuries, but in the midst of all the glamour and bustle, it is possible to find quiet spots where the mind can wander.

Palazzo Spada

Palazzo Spada – a game with false perspective

Palazzo Spada
While many tourists visit the colourful Campo del Fiori fresh food markets, just around the corner is the Palazzo Spada. Stepping into the grand rooms is like being in your own Rococo apartment (the Palazzo was once the home of “two wonderfully eccentric 17th century cardinals” according to the DK Guide). The gallery has paintings by Rubens and Durer. In the courtyard is a colonnade which seems much longer than it really is, due to false perspective.

Spanish Steps in Rome

Early morning on the Spanish Steps in Rome

Keats-Shelley Memorial House
In the 18th and 19th centuries, when the Grand Tour became the thing to do, the streets of Rome were full of aristocratic and arty travelers from Northern Europe. The English favoured the area around the Spanish Steps. The house where the romantic poet, John Keats, lived (and tragically died) is next to the steps, and is now a house museum open to the public, where you can indulge your overwrought literary side and learn more about Keats’ time in Rome.

Photo

Goethe goes Pop

Casa di Goethe
Germans on the Grand Tour stayed further along Rome’s main street close to the Piazza del Popolo. Writer and all-round Renaissance man Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in an apartment above the Corso during his Grand Tour of Italy in 1786-1788. Wandering through the rooms, you can imagine life as an aristocratic traveler in the 1700s*. Also on display is Andy Warhol’s Goethe portrait, establishing Goethe’s reputation as an unexpected pop culture icon.

Gran Salone in Palazzo Barberini

Hidden Treat – the Gran Salone in the Palazzo Barberini

Palazzo Barberini
The tranquillity of the grounds of the Palazzo Barberini is a welcome respite from the crowds on the busy Via delle Quattro Fontane. Crossing the wide courtyard, you will find the entrance to the galleries up a staircase designed by the famous sculptor Bernini (of Piazza Navona fame). Look out for the breathtaking Caravaggio painting and the ornate ceiling of the Gran Salone. After taking in the art, the gardens behind the Palazzo are a pleasant place to stroll.**

The walls of the Non-Catholic Cemetery Rome

The walls of the Non-Catholic Cemetery Rome

Non-Catholic Cemetery and Piramide
Even in a city where two-thousand-year-old ruins stand in busy streets, the sight of a pyramid in the middle of a suburb still surprises. Rome’s only pyramid is the tomb of a wealthy Roman magistrate who died in 12BC. Alongside the pyramid is the Protestant (and Non-Catholic) Cemetery (established in 1738) where many famous visitors to Rome are buried, including Keats and Shelley. Do check the opening hours – I arrived too late and had to wander beneath the walls, proving that the journey is not always the destination! You can reach Piramide on the Blue Metro Line.

* * * * *

*Casa di Goethe is the basis for Albert Price’s apartments in “The Alchemist of Rome”

**There is one painting you won’t find in the Palazzo Barberini, although it plays a major part in the sequel to “The Alchemist of Paris”. Read “The Alchemist of Rome” to find out which one!