by Becca Andre
(Originally posted at Becca Andre’s blog. Re-posted with permission. Thanks, Becca!)
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I’ve always loved fantasy. I was the little girl in the unicorn t-shirt drawing fantastical pictures when she should have been paying attention in class. I frequently got in trouble for daydreaming—until I learned to stare at the chalkboard and not out the window when my mind was elsewhere. Yet through it all, I somehow became a scientist. I feel like my interests rest on opposite ends of the spectrum. At one end there’s hard science with its laws and absolutes, and at the other end there’s fantasy, which is anything but. In The Final Formula, I think I found some middle ground.
The alchemy in my story isn’t the boiling cauldron of magic brew encountered in a lot of fantasy fiction, though it has the trappings of it. My alchemy is closer to modern chemistry. After all, Addie was a chemist before magic returned. This setup left me trying to explain magic with science. (Which isn’t the first time. I have an unpublished series where I actually turned to math in an attempt to puzzle out the magic. Yeah, I’m a geek.) While writing this story, I researched the ingredients Addie might use and discovered that science could come into play.
One such example is in the opening scene where Addie is preparing some Remembrance Dust. While searching for a plausible ingredient, I learned that rosemary was once believed to improve memory. Digging deeper, I discovered that rosemary contains rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that’s even been used in Alzheimer’s research. Perfect! Over the course of writing this book, I found that a lot of herb lore has some basis in fact. Granted, I took a few liberties with what Addie can do, but there are underlying reasons why she uses the ingredients she does.
I had a lot of fun coming up with some crazy alchemy applications to solve Addie’s problems. Homemade napalm to blow up zombies (and cars). Magic bullets. A compass to find the lost. And as I dig into the next book, the fun continues. Addie’s modern alchemy is a versatile medium that allows me to combine my interests. I just wish I actually knew the Final Formula. 😉
How about you? Do you have interests that don’t seem to go together?