Message From The Author
Donna Boyd, Acclaimed Author Of 80-Plus Novels, Talks (Magic) Shop.
By Lauren Spielberg
Donna Boyd believes in magic and its easy to see why.
Her latest novel, The Alchemist, is a stirring, highly imaginative tale set in ancient Egypt where three teenagers, two boys and one girl, study magicks at the prestigious House of Ra. Each student is blessed with remarkable power and when those talents are merged, Han (male), Nefar (female) and Akan (male) become a force so potent they supercede the magicks even of their own masters.
Alchemy, the arcane method of transmutating metals into gold and the base chemical ingredient for the elixir of life, is an ancient ideology, a fantastical belief that has been openly discussed and researched in volumes upon volumes of dusty texts. I try never to base my work on anything that has already been written, unless it is to explode the myth of a popular theory or belief Donna says. Believe me, I take a LOT of liberties! For The Alchemist, I did a great deal of research into ancient Egypt, the magical practices and lore of that time, as well as into the more recognizable forms of alchemy that were widely publicized in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Along with her previous werewolf novels, The Passion (Avon, Sep. 99) and The Promise (Harper, Oct. 00), The Alchemist has the overall feel of a saga or an epic, but if you break it down into its essential elements youre dealing with a suspense tale of supernatural proportions.
One morning, while arduously practicing his animal transmutations, Han is interrupted by his classmate, the enchanting Nefar, who laughs and disrupts his concentration. For, as Nefar laughingly shows him, Akan, another classmate and Hans scholastic rival, is already prowling the sky, having successfully transmutated himself into a falcon. Against Nefars protests, Han begins the process of transmutationa bone-wearying, high-risk practice with potentially terrifying ramifications once more. His energies focused, Han dimly sees Nefar reach out to touch his arm at the same time Akan soars down from his flight to take him under his wing. Then the unforeseeable happens. Han and Nefar effortlessly transmutate into birds an achievement rarely accomplished by the most advanced of Practitioners and take flight, alongside their friend.
When linked their power is indomitable, but for Han, Akan and Nefar to fully comprehend their purpose for possessing such great abilities, they must seek the tutelage of other great Practitioners within the House of Ra. Master Darius, a wizard of the highest order, takes the trio under his wing and rather pompously points out the flaws and weaknesses of their alchemy. With untold designs on the lovely Nefar, Darius prophesies that in the end, there will only be two.
Eager to take the final test that will enable each of them to become full-blown Practitioners and to push the boundaries of their knowledge and power, Han, Nefar and Akan stumble across an astonishing, horrifying truth about the House of Ra that will make them flee the establishment in a blaze of fire. Meanwhile, Dariuss guileful prediction that only two of the triad shall survive is never far from any of their minds, and soon alliances some expected, some not, are formed in their joint pursuit to learn of the greater truths.
Since 1981, Donna has written between 80 and 100 books under the pseudonyms Rebecca Flanders, Donna Carlisle, Leigh Bristol, Taylor Brady and Donna Boyd. Conjuring so many tales and having created an entire milieu of her own characters, Donna is strictly a story-oriented kind of gal.
"I think a compelling story has very little to do with genre, and almost everything to do with the story itself," Donna reveals. "The freshest, most original books are written by people who didn’t know there was a genre, but who simply had a rip-roaring tale they were dying to tell."
Although she doesn’t read much supernatural fiction, Donna attributes her specific brand of storytelling as a world unto itself. With healthy doses of suspense, mystery, betrayal, coming of age, mortality/immortality and a love triangle that spans the ages, Donna proves once again to be a great alchemist herself.
"I have said before that within the perfection of the Art one competes only against oneself," Han wisely proclaims in the novel. Donna applies this same rule of thumb to her own skills as a writer.
"I think every artist competes only against herself, or that part of herself which defines what is, for her, perfection within the art form. I would like to think that every book I write is better than the last, but I know that's not always true. I judge my books against a standard that is uniquely my own, and the closer I come to meeting that standard, the more successful I feel myself to be."
Remembering Mary, to be released (tentatively) January 03, is Donna’s next supernatural suspense about an amnesiac who discovers a horrifying truth about herself and her family. I have been so occupied with , The Alchemist that I haven’t yet had a chance to think seriously about a schedule of completion for the werewolf books. However, fans will be thrilled to know she has outlined the next two werewolf stories in the series.
“I absolutely believe in magic,” Donna says happily, reveling in her current success and anticipating her future projects. “I see it everyday.”
Write to Donna c/o Ballantine Books, 201 E. 50th Street, New York, NY 10022.
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