Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Guest Blog Post for The Alchemist's Theorum by Margaret R. Chiavetta, Children's,

November 2016, 224 pages, Ebook 

Book Summary
Mendel, an eccentric boy with an autistic nature, and the master alchemist Sir Duffy set out on a series of quests with their many weird and endearing creature companions like Esther the snake-ish gusselsnuff, and Gooder the fat, lazy, carnivorous horse. These determined travelers must venture across the continent of Terra Copia, an exotic land where the plants and animals in one forest are completely different from the next. It is up to them to safeguard secrets and dangerous artifacts from many enemies such as agents from the Academy of Advanced Disciplines, venomous pixies, and a mysterious pale stranger. If they fail, a terrifying curse will return to their land.
Nayu's thoughts
Because this book isn't quite for me at the moment, but sounded something I know you as readers would like, Margaret has kindly given a guest blog post to put up instead of a review, to give you more insight into the book. I hope you like it! 
Find out more on Margaret's website.

Guest blog post: Video Games, Harry Potter, & The Spectrum by Margaret R. Chiavetta

            Three things happened between 2012 and 2013 that led to the creation of my fantasy novel for kids, The Alchemist’s Theorem: Sir Duffy’s Promise. Firstly, I became addicted to playing the video game Skyrim. Secondly, I binge-read the Harry Potter books. And thirdly, my nephew, who is on the spectrum, was treated poorly by a new teacher at a new school. The Alchemist’s Theorem had been an undetected singularity in my head before these happenings, and from them a fantastical universe was born.

            I put an excessive amount of hours into playing Skyrim, which is a single-player, open-world, RPG video game. The setting is medieval, mythical, and magical. My favorite part of this game by far is the alchemy. There are so many reagents to collect and combine, such as flowers, butterfly wings, berries, bear claws, and glowing mushrooms. Whenever I was by the road collecting blue mountain flowers for my healing potions, I got so annoyed when I looked up and saw an enemy coming to attack me. I always yelled, “Ugh! Can’t you see I’m trying to pick flowers?” The best part was when I first started, and I had no idea what ingredients could be combined to make what potions. I just had to keep trying, using my intuition. Whenever I discovered a new formula I got such a rush. It’s the best kind of magical satisfaction one can get.

            During the summer of 2012, whilst unemployed, I binge-read the Harry Potter books. I totally had a thing for Snape (may both he and Alan Rickman rest in peace), and his potions class. Cauldrons bubbling, shelves stacked with vials and bottles, and potions that made people tell the truth or change shape, all paint such a romantic picture. I was reading one of the Snape scenes, and I suddenly stopped and looked up. I had a strong desire to write a story about alchemy. I was about to start my MFA in creative writing in the fall, so it was exciting to have an idea for a novel. A scene popped into my head: an alchemist, a middle-aged gentleman with a big belly, walking to his apothecary in the early morning. I eventually discovered that his name is Sir Duffy.

            A little over a year later, I had finished the first draft. It was a mess. There was so much missing from it. My other protagonist, the twelve-year-old boy Mendel, was two-dimensional and didn’t have much personality. When it came to my next revision, I knew I had to do the character more justice. That’s when I heard about my nephew’s experience at his new school. He is on the spectrum, and has a couple of idiosyncrasies that don’t fit well into a school setting. His new teacher did not react well to one or two of them, and my nephew went home crying. My mother, his guardian, dealt with the matter, and he is treated much better now. But at the time, I was furious, and my mother had to talk me off the ledge. A consequence of my anger was a strong desire for Mendel to be on the spectrum. I want kids like my nephew to be better understood. The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida is a great memoir by a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. He helped me put together the pieces of Mendel’s personality as well. I finally saw my character clearly. I understood who he was and how I wanted to write him.

            I finished The Alchemist’s Theorem: Sir Duffy’s Promise last August (2015), and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign. The rave reviews have been coming in from both readers and reviewers. I couldn’t be happier with the way this book turned out. It is now available in print and digital ($2.99) forms via Amazon or The Seattle Book Company, and it can be ordered wholesale through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. This is the first book of a series, and I am currently working away on the next. I hope you enjoy the adventure!


"Chiavetta employs a gale-force imagination in conjuring her alchemical realm... While immersed in this crowd-pleasing adventure, young readers should marvel at Chiavetta’s Alice in Wonderland vibe, and adults should appreciate the sweeping mythos.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The detailed botanical specimens and creatures of the “canny class” were very imaginative and well thought out… I thought the book a worthwhile read, and I would recommend it to those looking for a fantasy story set in a different world.” —Middle Shelf Magazine

"The strongest part of Chiavetta’s work is the world building: the world of Terra Copia is an interesting and thoroughly magical landscape to read about.” —

"Chiavetta avoids showing autism as either an entirely crippling illness or a special gift in and of itself. Mendel has autism and he has to learn ways of coping with the world . . . It becomes one aspect of who he is, not the sole defining quality of an inquisitive and inventive young man.” —Fangirlnation

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