The Immortal Nicholas Flamel is Back: An Interview with Michael Scott

ThesorceressIrish-born author Michael Scott has written more than 100 books--fantasy, folklore, horror, nonfiction--for adult and young adult readers. (He's even written quite a few under the pen name Anna Dillon.) But none of his books have come close to the success of his wonderfully imaginative series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Inspired by the real Flamel, a bookseller and reputed alchemist who lived in Paris between 1330 and 1418, the series starts (in The Alchemyst) with Flamel and his wife Perenelle still alive and running a bookstore in current-day San Francisco. Each book takes Flamel, along with teenage twins Sophie and Josh, on to subsequent adventures. In The Magician they're in Paris fighting John Dee (who was also a real person) and Machiavelli. In the latest book, The Sorceress, they're in London, and you'd be surprised at the famous immortals they bump into this time.

I love this series--with its historical twists, diabolical beasts, and edge-of-your-seat fight scenes in iconic places around the world--so I was thrilled for the chance to ask the author a few questions:

Photo by Perry Hagopian. What was your inspiration for the series? Was it the legend of the Flamels and the Book of Abraham? Did Dee figure in from the start?

Michaelscott Michael Scott: The story really started with Dr. John Dee and, for a long time, he was the hero of the series. I had written about Dee before in my horror novels, Image, (Sphere, UK, 1991), Reflection, (Sphere, UK, 1993) and then The Merchant Prince (Pocket Books, USA, 2000). Dee was a fascinating man, but he was never “right” for the lead character: he was always too dark, too troubled.

I know I started to develop the series on May 18th 1997 because that is the first time the word “Alchemyst” with the “Y” appears in my notebooks. However, it was really three years later, in late September 2000, when I was in Paris and stumbled across Nicholas Flamel’s house in the Rue de Montmorency that the series really came together. I knew a lot about Flamel and the legendary Book of Abraham and, sitting in Flamel’s home, which is now a wonderful restaurant, I realized that here was the hero for my series.

Nicholas Flamel was one of the most famous alchemists of his day. He was born in 1330 and earned his living as a bookseller (which was the same job I had for many years.) One day he bought a book, the same book mentioned in The Alchemyst: the Book of Abraham. It too, really existed and Nicholas Flamel left us with a very detailed description of the copper-bound book. Although the book itself is lost, the illustrations from the text still exist.

Over the course of his long life, Flamel became extraordinarily wealthy, and used his wealth to found churches, hospitals and schools. Both he and his wife, Perenelle, were very well known in France and across Europe. The streets named after them, the Rue Flamel and the Rue Perenelle, still exist in Paris today.

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Comments (1)

Loved these books, cant wait for the next one

Posted by: Ean | Wednesday May 13, 2009 at 8:17 AM

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