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!

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!

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?

Leaving Paris

Paris had never looked more beautiful than on that last run through the city. I had forgotten the squalor and smells of the narrow streets now and saw only the grandeur of the rooftops against the sky. Gerard guided me out of Le Marais and along the broad boulevards near the Louvre Palace. We ran through arcades and before churches, past statues and under stone carvings. We passed the scaffolds and skeletons of the new Paris that was being built. We saw sudden vistas of the Seine and the hills above the city. I had no idea why I thought this city frightening when the carriage had first rolled through the city gates. Paris was my city now and I knew all its lanes and colonnades and bridges.

– Elise flees across 19th century Paris in ‘The Alchemist of Paris’

Having left her idyllic country home, Elise has found herself in a web of greed, betrayal and deceit – and magic. Can she escape in time?

Leaving home

At twilight I slipped out of the convent and into the herb garden. Unlocking the gate, I strolled under the old stone arch to the fields beyond. The sky was blue violet, and a golden moon was rising over the hills. The air was sweet with the scent of the rustling grasses. Wildflowers, some blooming only for a day, shivered in the evening breeze. I walked through the fields, until the monastery and convent were only a dim silhouette behind me. I breathed in over and over, wanting to savour the scent and the taste of the countryside. The forest on the hillside was dim and silent and the tree branches were like lace against the setting sun. The meadows rolled out to the horizon, where the river glittered through banks of poplar trees. I tried to capture each part of the landscape in my mind, so that I could imagine it, wherever I might go.

– Story Excerpt “The Alchemist of Paris”

 

Like the character Elise, I grew up in the country before moving to the city. (Strange fact – I grew up next door to a convent!)

Are there places that you have left behind in your life? Do you think of them often? If you are a writer, do you incorporate those memories into your writing?