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!

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!

*  *  *

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.

Map Monday – Ancient Egypt

 

Map Monday

Map Monday, Ancient Egypt

 

“In Egypt, I met a man who called himself Albert Price. And that man has intrigued me ever since.”
– Jean-Louis Champillon reflects on past journeys in ‘The Alchemist of Paris’

The book in the picture above was published in 1888. It was found in a book sale in a barn many years ago. It is beautifully typeset and illustrated, although the prim Victorian-era interpretation of Ancient Egyptian history is now quite out-of-date!

Maps can set out fictional lands or historical places, or even give real places an amusing twist. Do you enjoy tracing the characters’ footsteps when you are reading? And if you write, have you ever sketched out your own map, so that you know where your characters are going?

Cover Reveal: The Alchemist of Rome

The Alchemist of Rome

Cover Design by Adriana Hanganu, adipixdesign.com

Beware when magic crosses your path. You may live, but you will live to regret it.

Almost one year ago, on 31 March 2017, I first set pen to paper on The Alchemist of Rome, the sequel to The Alchemist of Paris.

There’s some familiar characters and some new ones. The mystery begins in Rome, and then moves to the Amalfi Coast and Malta – I always love a book where the characters travel.

This wonderfully atmospheric cover was designed by Adriana at adipixdesign.com

The Surprising Difficulties of Photographing #Booksandmacarons

The Alchemist of Paris

Coffee, macarons and The Alchemist of Paris

#Bookstagramming on Instagram combines three of my favourite things – taking pictures,  microblogging and discovering new books. With hashtags such as #booksandnature, #booksanddogs #booksandcafes #booksinthewild etc etc, it all looks so chic and simple.

However all those artful pictures are not as easy as they look, as I discovered when I decided to photograph ‘The Alchemist of Paris’ (which is finally a real, “hold in your hands”, “put in the bookcase”, “throw on the backseat of the car” book!) and a box of macarons (a popular hashtag being #Booksandmacarons).

I set aside Saturday morning for this task, which progressed as follows:

9.30 a.m. Consider taking the book to the patisserie to colour coordinate with the macarons. True, I have never seen anyone else do this, but how else do you select the right colours?

9.42 a.m. Trusting my judgment, I visit the patisserie and make my selection by eye.

(In case you are a macaron enthusiast, my selection was: red velvet, strawberry, chocolate, cookies and cream, salted caramel and nutella).

9.50 a.m. Returning to the “studio”, aka my apartment, I get the props ready.

The Alchemist of Paris

The props are ready

10.05 a.m. I realise macarons need to be photographed on their side. Otherwise, they look – kind of round.

10.10 a.m. Line macarons up in the box, then try to get them to artfully stack on top of each other.

The Alchemist of Paris

The macarons aren’t lining up straight

10.16 a.m. Consider the merits of the book cover v. open book page shot.

10.21 a.m. Worry about the colour combination – is the bright pink strawberry too jarring?

10.22 a.m. If the strawberry macaron is too bright, should I eat it?

The Alchemist of Paris

The macarons are becoming distracting…

10.26 a.m. Salted caramel is melting. The top has slid sideways. Get some filling on my finger and seriously tempted to eat entire macaron.

10.30 a.m. Wonder if the white table or wooden tabletop looks better.

10.45 a.m. Very tempted to eat the props.

10.50 a.m. Should I stand on a chair to get a better shot? The chair is kind of wobbly.

10.51 a.m. How will I explain to people if I am injured falling off a chair while photographing a box of macarons?

10.52 a.m. It’s getting hotter. Salted caramel is sliding sideways again and not going to make it.

10.53 a.m. I’m feeling very hungry.

The Alchemist of Paris

Okay, that’s it – I’m hungry

11.00 a.m. Find a few pictures I am happy with – casual and relaxed, like I spend my days in a cafe reading books.

11.09 a.m Can’t believe I’ve spent over an hour and a half doing this.

11.10 a.m. Impressed at the skill of bookstagrammers.