Saturday, 25 August 2012

GUEST BLOGS: “Who Wants to Live Forever” - Suzanne McLeod

Hello! And thank you to Falcata Times for having me guest blog. My Spellcrackers books are set in London (the city of my birth and heart!) and, like most cities, London has lots of inspiration to offer any writer including well-known places such as Leicester Square, Harley Street and the fabulous Harrods; some wonderful parks and open spaces like Regent’s Park – with its fantastic London Zoo – and nearby Primrose Hill; all of which make appearances in The Shifting Price of Prey (which is out August 30th (UK). *inserts obligatory self-promotion* :-D)

Something else that has inspired me is the amount of statues in London; there are hundreds! One of the earliest scenes that popped into my head when I started writing the Spellcrackers books was of a pixie cavorting on one of the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square.

“The pixie was squatting on the flank of one of the four bronze lions that guarded the base of Nelson’s Column, swishing its barbed tail like an angry cat. Its blue-grey scales shimmered in the sunlight, and its lipless snout was stretched in a taunting grin. No way was it going to make this easy. Then, as if to hammer that thought home, the pixie flapped its vestigial bat-like wings, cart-wheeled along the lion’s broad back, and jumped up to perch on the statue’s huge head.” - Excerpt from Full-Scale Demolition – Spellcrackers short story 0.5

Of course, once I’d thought of that cart-wheeling pixie, I then had to think of what it was up to there. :-) So I interrogated my muse (a.k.a. my little grey cells) and discovered that pixies love statues! Who knew? *g* And while pixies are about the same size as a kitten and, other than their sharp chitinous teeth, pose no more threat, pixies are dangerous when it comes to statues, as they love to scatter them with pixie dust and thereby animate them. A big part of Genny’s job has always been to catch the pixies, ship them back to Cornwall from whence they came, and clear up whatever dust they’ve left behind, and that doesn’t change in The Shifting Price of Prey.

“The eagle on top of the RAF monument on Victoria Embankment had taken up dive-bombing the glass-topped pleasure boats on the Thames, leaving scratches on their plastic roofs; the gold wolf’s head fountain at the Aldgate pump had howled randomly at passers-by, resulting in one man being taken to hospital with a suspected heart-attack; the griffin at Temple Bar had become an intermittent flame-thrower, leaving scorch marks on nearby buildings; the left sphinx at Cleopatra’s Needle had whispered childish riddles, smacking down a heavy clawed-paw regardless of whether the answers were right or wrong; Eros in Piccadilly had targeted passing double-decker busses with badly shot arrows, luckily managing to miss anything alive; and so my day had gone.” – Excerpt from The Shifting Price of Prey – Spellcrackers #4

As you can see the pixies had a blast with those statues. And I had a blast choosing which statues to include as I wanted them to have some connection to the events in the book, even if that connection isn’t too obvious. 

The RAF monument with its gorgeous golden eagle was a given as it’s the entrance to Tavish the kelpie’s home on the River Thames, and Tavish has a crucial part to play (unsurprisingly) throughout the story.

The wolf’s head on the Aldgate pump I included as it’s said to mark the spot where the last wolf was shot in London, probably sometime in the late seventeen hundreds, which was when wolves were hunted to extinction in England. Now that’s a fascinating tidbit . . . *teases*
The griffin at Temple Bar was my next choice, because who doesn’t love dragons? Plus there’s an ancient custom that the reigning monarch stops at Temple Bar before entering the City of London, so that the Mayor can offer her or him the City's pearl-encrusted Sword of State as token of loyalty. And, as beautifully shown on the cover, Genny now has a sword! It’s not the Sword of State but it does have a dragon engraved on the blade and (as you would expect) Genny does get to use her sword!!! *teases again*

The left sphinx at Cleopatra’s needle (the needle isn’t actually from Cleopatra’s time but was made during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III; the sphinxes are Victorian copies) I chose because Genny has a mystery to solve and so a riddle-spouting sphinx seemed apt. And because Thutmose III was an expansionist ruler and created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen. While none of the characters in the book are connected to Thutmose III they are connected to other empires and Genny has to find a mysterious ‘Emperor’.

And Eros! (The statue is actually of Anteros a close ‘relative’ of Eros.) Well, all I’m going to say is that he’s the god of love! *Looks innocent*

Oh, and there’s one other statue that gets a very brief mention – the fifteen-foot bronze of Freddie Mercury rocking it outside the Dominion Theatre. Mostly because it’s Freddie, and hey, who needs another reason. *g*But also because Queen’s ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ is a kind of theme tune for the book!
Bio: Suzanne McLeod is a UK author who writes the series, full of magic, mayhem and murder, and liberally spiced with hot guys, kick-ass chicks and super-cool supes! Books #1 - #3 are published by Gollancz in the UK and Ace in the US. Book #4 – The Shifting Price of Prey – releases on Aug 30 (UK only so far). 

Outside of the UK it can be purchased from The Book Depository 


Picture Attribution:
These pictures from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic []
Freddie Mercury, Dominion Theatre, photo attribution: Fallschirmjäger 

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