Wouldn’t You Like to Know . . . Michael Scott
Our current author, Irish novelist Michael Scott, may be one of the world’s most prolific writers of all time! With at least two pseudonyms, six different series, a number of nonfiction titles, as editor of multiple anthologies, creator of television and movie scripts, contributor to other authors’ collections, and a whole slew of fiction stories to his credit, it’s a wonder this man has any time to eat or sleep. First published at the age of twenty-four, Mr. Scott has studiously kept pen to paper, even as he was being pulled away to represent fellow artists for national arts and cultural organizations in positions like: writer-in-residence in Dublin and trustee for Children’s Book Trust. A renowned Celtic and Irish folklore authority, Michael is also a die-hard Doctor Who fan and a collector of rare books; weaving his knowledge of the past into fantastical stories that appeal to all ages right now–and for generations to come!
SH: When I was a teenager, people would describe me as a: (jock, band geek, popular, goth, other, none?)
MS: Growing up in Ireland, some of those labels did not apply (and I’m not sure that Goths had been invented then!) I went to schools where sports were very important–particularly the Irish sports of Gaelic Football (a very fast, tough mixture of rugby and soccer,) and Hurling. (Think lacrosse or hockey, but with a solid leather ball leaving the Hurley stick–the caman–at over 80 mph.) However, I was very short sighted. Not only could I not see the ball, I could barely make out the players–which was not a good combination. Several broken bones later, I began to do martial arts, where at least I could make out my opponent. Many years and many disciplines later–karate, judo, tae-kwan-do, kendo and, very briefly, kung fu–I realized that all of this was eating into my writing time, so I reluctantly gave them up, though I can still do my katas. I will add however, that bits and pieces of my martial arts years ended up in the Flamel series.
SH: The best/worst thing that happened to you in high school?
MS: I am sure there must have been highs and low, but nothing stands out. Looking back, those years have blended into long hot summers, usually spent reading, and long, wet winters, which were also spent reading. Certainly the Irish version of high school, which we call secondary school, really opened my eyes to the world of words and books, and my journey to become a writer started then.
SH: Favorite childhood book? Favorite food? Favorite band or album? Favorite television show?
MS: I have two favorite books. I have no idea old I was when I first read The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Nine or ten perhaps. I loved that series about the little people who live under the floorboards and in the walls of your home and “borrow” all that stuff which goes missing. When I realize that there were not more Borrowers stories, I even tried writing one myself. It was fanfic, before there was fanfic.
The second favorite book was (and is) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I came to Huck Finn via Tom Sawyer, of course, and while I liked the Tom Sawyer books (even the disappointing Tom Sawyer Detective), I loved Huck Finn. Like the very best writing, it opened up a hitherto unknown world to me and I have read it innumerable times. When I finally succumbed to the convenience of ebooks, it was the first book I downloaded. (As an aside: I am often asked if it is an either/or with ebooks: do you get the physical book or the ebook? If it’s a good book, it’s both.) When I worked as a bookseller, I once sold a copy of the 1885 first edition, signed by Mark Twain himself. I would love to have owned, but it was just a little too expensive for me!
Favorite food–especially sushi and anything spicy. So obviously, I love sushi hot rolls. There is a little sushi restaurant in the Valley in LA, which does a hot roll which you can order in ten different strengths of heat. If you can eat two number 10 rolls, you get the t-shirt and your photo on the wall. I’m up to level eight!
Favorite album: Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. First album I ever bought (on vinyl), then again, first CD I bought.
Favorite TV show: Babylon 5. It had a five year storytelling arc and you knew, even watching the early episodes, that there was a plan to this series.
SH: Is there a story from your childhood that is told most often, either by you *or* about you?
MS: There are lots of stories told about me: usually to do with broken bones, falling off walls, tumbling out of trees, and spinning off bikes and racecarts. It was one of those childhoods. I was curious. I also spent a lot of my childhood building bicycles with my best friend. As we got older the bikes got more and more ambitious, until we eventually built a racing tandem–a two man bike. Alloy frame, drop handlebars, narrow racing tyres, Shimano Saint mountain gears. It was the fastest, most dangerous bike I’ve ever sat on! We came off it so many times and always walked away with just scrapes and bruises, but we knew that sooner or later it was going to really hurt us, so we retired it.
SH: Was there any class in high school you regret paying too little, or too much, attention? If you could add one class to high schools across the country, what would be the topic?
MS: I was good in English, but poor in math. Later, much later, I learned that is a common trait with writers; words and figures do not seem to go together. However, I probably should have paid more attention to Irish. Irish is the national language of Ireland and was a compulsory subject when I was going through school. I never thought I would find much use for it and never gave it the attention it deserved. Ironically, I have spent a big part of my life, collecting and writing about Irish folklore, myth and legend and many of those stories only exist in the Irish language. So, I really learned Irish when I left school.
One of my favorite classes in school was Latin. I was lucky to have an inspirational Latin teacher, who taught not only the language, but the history of Rome. I do believe that’s where I got my interest in the ancient world.
If I could add a class? Well, maybe not add, but enhance. History is already taught, but I do believe it needs to be broader and wider in scope. To understand the present, you have to understand the past and, unfortunately, so much of the world comes to us now through TV and internet and it comes without context and in soundbites. A study of history, gives us that broader context.
SH: If you could spend the day with one of the characters from your books, who would you want to it be? What would you do?
MS: Tough question, because one of the great joys of writing the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series was that I was able to include just about all my favorite historical characters into the story. And when I say ALL, I do mean all of them! When I am asked who is my favorite character, I think the expectation is that I will say, Nicholas Flamel. And he is an interesting character: a bookseller and dealer in rare books (as I was), with an interest in the ancient world, history, science and myth (as do I.)
However, the character I would love to meet is Dr. John Dee. He was an extraordinary and fascinating man. Mathematician, scholar, geographer, scientist, spy, close enough to Princess Elizabeth to pick the date of her coronation to become Queen Elizabeth I. He remained, not at the heart, but in the shadows of the Elizabethan Court for most of his long life. He had one of the largest libraries in England and there is the suggestion that Shakespeare based Prospero on him. When he travelled across Europe spying for the queen, he would sign his reports with two zeros “00” that looked like eyes (because he was the eyes of the queen) and his personal mark, which looked like a “7”. He was the original 007.
Over the years I have written about him many times. I wrote him into horror novels and science fiction novels and when I came to create what became the Flamel series, it was originally called The Secrets of Doctor Dee. He was the original hero and Machiavelli was the original villain.
SH: Do you have any favorite family traditions that might need some explanation to outsiders looking in? Do you remember how they started?
MS: I always spend Christmas at home with family. Simple as that. And, no matter where I am in the world, I always make sure to return home for Christmas. I’ve not missed one yet.
SH: If you had an important secret or story to share, who would be the first person you’d turn to?
MS: There is a great old Irish saying: “A secret is not a secret that is known by three.” Like most writers, it goes down in the notebook to be used in a story later.
SH: Is there a book, besides your own of course, that you think everyone should be reading?
MS: I worked for most of my life as a bookseller. When really struck home were the number of books which had been very famous in their day, but which were now forgotten. Writers (and books and genres) go in and out of fashion and recommending books is always dangerous. What you love, someone else may not like at all. However, over the years, I have recommended the works of Andre Norton and no one has ever complained. Andre Alice Norton was an amazing writer, author of around 300 books. Her influence cannot be overestimated. I am a huge fan, especially of the sprawling and wonderful Witch World series. I was twelve years old when I first read Witch World. It introduced me to the world of high fantasy and was one of the major influences which made me want to become a writer. (And, as an aside, George R R Martin was a fan of her work also.)
SH: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
MS: Rudeness–especially the self absorbed type. The older I get, the more I have come to value politeness, consideration, and just the simple courtesies. As William of Wykeham said in the 14th century: Manners maketh man.
SH: Is there one moment in your life you’d love to live again? To either change it or to enjoy?
MS: Lots of moments. We are the sum of our memories. For me it is also those occasions which makes me realize just how infinitesimal we are in the Universe: lying on my back in the Atacama Desert looking up at stars close enough to touch . . . standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon looking down . . . exploring the ruins of Machu Pichu . . . climbing the Pyramid of the Sun . . . walking the streets of Angkor Wat . . . standing underground in the heart of Newgrange, the oldest engineered building on the planet.
SH: Do you have a phrase or motto that inspires you?
MS: Say “yes” more often than you say “no.” Saying yes keep you in motion, but saying no keeps you still. The trick, of course, is saying “yes” to the right things.
SH: When you’re done writing for the day, or taking a little “me” time, do you have a hobby or special treat you indulge in?
MS: I’m never really done writing. The ideas percolate for months or sometimes years; putting my fingers on the keyboard is just the final step. But when I am not writing (or reading). I cycle. I have four different bicycles; two of them I’ve built myself: a super lightweight racing bike, a sturdy mountain bike, a “dirty” bike I can ride on the beach and not worry about the salt, and a hybrid cruiser.
My special treat to myself is that I love to travel. I’m lucky enough to work in a job where I can roam the world is search of places and legends.
SH: What three words would you use to describe yourself? What three words do you think other people would use to describe you?
MS: My three are driven, obsessive and curious. I am guessing other people might say: boring, nosy, workaholic.
SH: You are sitting down to dinner with five people, living or dead, who you find fascinating. Who is at the table and what are you eating?
MS: Obviously Dee is there. He grew up in the Elizabethan age, where the most exotic meats were eaten, but now he only eats fish, and is having sushi.
Virginia Dare, the first European born on the American continent on the lost colony of Roanoke, is sitting beside Dee. We have a record of Virginia’s birth, but no idea what happened to her after that. There is some suggestion that she was raised by the Native American tribes. She is having salmon, corn, squash and beans.
Leonardo da Vinci. I have a million questions for him. This is the man who was fascinated by everything, the man who invented and foresaw so many of the things we take for granted today. Proud of his Florentine heritage, he is having local pasta, Tuscan cheese and Florentine wine.
Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone who travelled with Lewis & Clarke and acted as a guide and interpreter as they mapped the Western United States. Her presence on the expedition was of paramount importance, because it ensured that the expedition was seen as peaceful by the native tribes, since a woman would not ride out with a war party. She even gave birth to her son on the journey. Just think of the world she saw! She is eating buffalo steak.
Nickola Telsa, the man who essentially invented the modern world: AC current, and the technology behind television, radio and telephones. He speaks seven languages and has a photographic memory. Like da Vinci, he was interested in just about everything. He is a vegetarian and is eating bread covered in honey, and drinking milk.
And if I have all these people around me, I doubt I’m eating anything. I have too many questions to ask.
SH: Who was the first person who told you should be a writer?
MS: One of my earliest memories is being taken around the bookshops of Dublin every Saturday morning by my father. He was a great reader and he knew many of the booksellers personally. Years later, I found myself working in several of those bookshops. Without any shadow of a doubt, he instilled in me a love of reading and he encouraged me to read everything and anything. And, because I read so much, there does come a point when you put down the book you’re reading and say, “I could do that.”
SH: What did you buy with your first paycheck as An Author? Was it a planned or an impulse purchase?
MS: My first paycheck was so tiny! But I know I put it towards a full set (all 30 volumes) of Encyclopedia Britannica. I’d always wanted a set (and indeed, still have it!)
SH: What one thing makes you feel happiest? What makes you sad? What scares you?
MS: There is tremendous satisfaction in finishing a piece of work and there are moments when writing is going well when it is quite blissful.
What makes me sad and scares me (because they are so closely interlinked) is the state of the world. I am a student of history and the curse of history is that it repeats itself. When you look around you it is impossible not to be frightened by the dark potential of the various political and religious tensions. And if you add into that mix the shifting climate patterns . . . well, there’s another reason to be scared! You can’t mess with Mother Nature!.
SH: What is one (or more!) of your favorite features about yourself? It can be anything from an impeccable sense of style to your sense of humor to crazy long toes that can pick up a variety of objects.
MS: I can type faster than I can write! I remember all sorts of stupid trivia (I was once the question master for Who Wants to be A Millionaire.) And I have dozens of cowboy boots.
SH: A series of choices: Introvert or Extrovert? Sweet or Salty? Hot or Cold? Elevator or Stairs? Spend or Save? Five Star Hotel or Rustic Camping? Books, Movies, or Music? Cats, Dogs, or Other?
MS: Introvert. Sweet. Hot. Stairs. Save. Five Star Hotel. Books (and Music – can’t have one without the other!). Cats.
SH: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten, at any age?
MS: There is a great quote from the scholar and mythologist, Joseph Campbell, which I liked so much, I once laboriously wrote it up in calligraphy. It is long and it can be shortened simply to “follow your bliss.” But here is the full version.
“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series
SH: As a teen, which would you have chosen as your summer job -the coffee shop or the bookshop? What would be the drink/book you’d recommend most often as your go-to title/drink?
MS: Bookshop. My very first summer job (just like Josh) was in a bookshop. I worked as a bookseller for a very long time and finally ended up running a chain of bookstores.
Tea: I drink an extraordinary amount of tea, especially green tea. If you want something a bit special, get a green tea Frappuccino with an extra scoop of green tea powder (and no whip!)
SH: What’s on Josh’s iPod? Do you have any of the same songs on your playlist?
MS: Yes, Josh’s iPod is mine and the music Flamel recommends to him are also my recommendations! All of my books are written to a soundtrack and I will deliberately choose the music to match the scene I’m writing. Josh will listen to a lot of soundtracks and also a lot of ambient or instrumental music (because anything with words will be distracting.)
SH: Yggdrasill is complex and amazing! What made you choose this piece of Norse mythology to incorporate into your story? Did you know right away that you’d be continuing to follow the consequences in future stories?
MS: Before I set out to write even the opening of the series, I had the entire six books plotted out. I had to. I knew I was about to begin on a six year writing exercise of over 650,000 words in total. So I needed to have all the elements plotted.
From the moment I first started studying Norse Mythology many years ago, I knew I would use the Yggdrasill in a book. And because I plotted the books from the back – I started with the end scene and worked towards the beginning – I knew how important the World Tree was to the story. For a long time I thought about using the Kalpa Tree, the Wishing Tree of Indian Mythology, but it just wasn’t “big” enough. Besides, I’m saving the Kalpa Tree for something else!
SH: Why is Josh so willing to believe Dr. John Dee and so quick to doubt Nicholas Flamel?
MS: Once Sophie is Awakened and Josh is not, the lifelong bond between the twins starts to sunder and this frightens Josh. Dee presents Josh with an opportunity to be the equal of his twin again. Also, Josh just cannot trust Flamel, knowing that he has lied just about everything.
SH: Joan of Arc! Thank you for giving her such a great background and even better current story! How did you decide to make her Sophie’s teacher -and- Comte de Saint-Germain’s wife?
MS: I knew book two would be set in Paris and I wanted the twins to have the ultimate French warrior as their guardian. It had to be Joan. Rescuing her from the stake was the tricky part (but I tell that story in The Death of Joan of Arc). I have always been fascinated by the Comte de Saint-Germain. He was a real man and, much like Dee, quite extraordinary. Although he sits solidly in history, he is wrapped around by legend and half-truths, gossip and idle speculation. We do know he was an expert musician, and much of his music still exists. He spoke several languages, and claimed he was more than 500 years old. He is such an outrageous character, that I knew I had to put him into the books. It seemed right and proper that he would end up with Joan. One day I will tell the stories of their adventures together.
SH: Areop-Enap is hilarious and this is according to a confirmed arachnophobe – me. How did you decide on going for humor over fear?
MS: The Old Spider comes from Polynesia and is the ultimate creator god. In the beginning there was only the Old Spider and the Sea. Areop-Enap is such a great character to play with and because people often have an innate fear of spiders, especially the big hairy ones, it gave me the opportunity to create the ultimate big hairy spider. Because Aerop Enap is so big and fearsome, I didn’t need to add anything to that character to make them scarier. So I added humor which makes them accessible and relatable.
SH: How did you decide to use Alcatraz as a main location for this book? Did you get to do any in-person research? Did you discover any shocking insider secrets about Alcatraz that you’d be willing to share?
MS: When I was doing the research for the series, I knew I needed a secure location to hold the vast menagerie of creatures for the finale. It would have to be close to a major city, secure enough to hold the monsters within, and yet safe enough to keep the general public out. I looked at abandoned mines in the Old West, derelict hospitals, ghost towns, even a fabulous and completely secure mansion in Beverly Hills. (Which sort of ended up as Bastet’s house.) Then, one day when I was in San Francisco, I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge going to visit some friends in Mill Valley. I looked out across the bay towards Alcatraz … and realized instantly that here was the heart of the book. It fulfilled all the criteria: close to a major city, secure and safe. Once I had Alcatraz, just about everything else fell into place. And yes, I have been to Alcatraz nearly two dozen times. I have thousands of photos of the entire island. All the places described in the book are real, including the tunnels under the island.
SH: Morrigan, the crow goddess, and her two sisters Macha and Badb, all live in the same body but Morrigan rarely lets either of her sisters be in control. Macha and Badb seem to be much more willing to share. Why don’t they use the two-against-one numbers advantage? How would you rank the sisters in order of most preferable to be in-charge to least preferable?
MS: The Three Sisters – the Morrigan, the Macha and the Badb – all come from Irish mythology. In most of the legends they are equal, but certainly, the Morrigan, the Crow Goddess has more mythology attached to her than the others. In the ancient traditions, the Gods grew strong on the worship of their followers. So, because The Morrigan had more followers and worshippers, I decided that she was the stronger than the others. The two others do not attempt to take control because, in many ways, it is the Morrigan who keeps the trio alive. In this modern age, the other two sisters have been more or less forgotten, whereas the Morrigan is still well known throughout the Celtic lands.
None of the three are nice – but it’s probably preferable to have the Morrigan in charge. She is the most sane, but that is not saying very much! Plus, she has not entirely lost her humanity … if the Old Gods have humanity!
SH: This felt primarily like Perenelle’s story. How hard was it to wait this long to divulge her secrets?! What do think was the biggest revelation for readers?
MS: Yes, the Sorceress is Perenelle’s book. Each book is named for a character (The Alchemyst is Flamel, the Magician is Dee, the Sorceress is Perenelle, the Necromancer is Josh, the Warlock is Machiavelli and the Enchantress is (exclusive revelation here because I have never explicitly admitted it in print before) Sophie! It was great to give Perenelle time on the page and show a hint of her abilities. You begin to realize just how powerful she is – far more powerful than Nicholas, for example. I’m not sure what the biggest revelation is – maybe some of the hinted stories about her past.
SH: So many long held grudges and plans for revenge stretching out over centuries! Do you feel like any of these grudges -either Elder or humani side- are justified? Did you enjoy plotting revenge for any particular character? How about in real life?
MS: Us mere mortals makes plans that stretch over days, weeks or months, but these immortal characters can make plans that stretch over centuries. The greatest gift of immortality is that it teaches patience. And of course, what made this series really interesting for me is that both sides really do believe they are right. Dee is convinced that he is doing the right thing and, at the end of the Alchemyst, when he shows Josh the way the world was and will be again if the Dark Elders are in control, he is showing him the truth – or at least a version of it. Also, the fact that the Elders and Dark Elders keep grudges show that they are not too far advanced beyond us humans.
SH: Have you ever been in The Catacombs of Paris? Is there an underground path you’d like to try and follow? Or are you more an above ground kind of guy?
MS: Yes, I’ve been through the Catacombs many times and they are exactly as I’ve described them – including the wall of bones and skulls! All the locations mentioned in the series are real, and I’ve either visited or lived in those locations, so when I am writing about them, I am drawing on real experiences. It also means that the reader can follow the characters across San Francisco, through the street of Paris or London, for example.
The Catacombs of Paris are quite extraordinary, and only a tiny section are open to the public. However, there is a group of people called Cataphiles who venture into the closed sections of the tunnels; they have discovered all sorts of hidden and lost rooms, including a cinema, a bar and during WWII, both the French Resistance and the Germans had outposts in the Catacombs. The closed sections are off limits to the public and are patrolled by the police, the Cataflics, but the Cataphiles are willing to risk the small fine in return for seeing rooms and tunnels that have been closed for decades. And yes, Mars Ultor’s chamber is down there. I’ve seen it.
SH: If you were sucked into another time period while traveling through a ley line, in what time period would most you hope to land? Why?
MS: If I can only choose one time period, then it has to be the Elizabethan Age, the 16th Century. It really was the age of the extraordinary, of amazing people and remarkable advances in science and technology. The world opened up and maps, which had hitherto been blank, suddenly started to fill in. The Dutch discovered Australia, the edges of the Americas started to appear and in 1507 Waldseemuller, in his astonishing Universalis Cosmographia, actually names the continent: America. Coffee first starts to appear in Europe, (tea would come later.) It was the age when what been called magic became science, with new inventions and discoveries appearing almost daily. It was an incredible time to be alive – if you were wealthy. It wasn’t quite so nice if you were poor.
SH: Have you ever suspected a relative of being more than (or something completely different) from what you were told? Maybe they’re an ancient elder? Or you discover their checkered past as a circus clown? Which relative seems like the most likely candidate to you?
MS: All my relatives are extraordinarily normal – of course, if they were Elders or Next Generation, I suppose that’s how they would appear! Growing up in Ireland, I was surrounded by powerful women: mother, grandmothers and even great grandmothers. Maybe that’s where all the powerful women in the series had their roots.
SH: The flexibility of time and timelines are key ideas in this book. If you had the chance, whose life would you extend by just one more day even if it meant giving up one day of your own? What would you want that person to do with your day?
MS: We all experience time differently. We measure time in days, years, centuries. But the smaller increments – minutes and hours – are experienced differently. We all remember the summers which seemed to go on forever, or the math class (usually on a Friday afternoon), which dragged for hours – though it was the same 45 minutes as every other class. Certainly one of the problems of this 21st Century society is that we live our lives at an accelerated rate and we do seem to be constantly “living” in the future: waiting for next years technology to arrive, waiting for books, tv shows or movies to appear. We do need to slow down, to live in the moment, and experience the world as it is now, and not as it may be.
There is a wonderful poem by the English poet, Stephen Philips, who died in 1915, called The Apparition, which speaks eloquently of time and lost opportunities.
My dead Love came to me, and said:
…’God gives me one hour’s rest
To spend upon the earth with thee:
…How shall we spend it best?’
‘Why, as of old,’ I said, and so
…We quarrell’d as of old.
But when I turn’d to make my peace
…That one short hour was told.
SH: What made you decide Virginia Dare should reference the classic Close Encounters musical greeting (those five distinctive notes) as a trigger for Josh? Is it a song that haunts you personally or is this an all-time favorite movie? Or was it something else entirely?
MS: The series is full of little in-jokes and nods to modern culture. I love spotting Easter Eggs in movies or on TV, so I populated the series with references to Star Wars and Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters and X-Files – see if you can find the Fibonacci Sequence or Pi in the book. When I was creating the series, I decided that all the immortal humans should be drawn from history, all the creatures and monsters taken from mythology. The twins are the only created characters, but of course, twin mythology is universal. Every country in the world has stories about twins. But although these are mythological or legendary creatures, they are living in the modern world, so they must have acquired some modern influences. There is a scene (which did not make the final edit), where the Morrigan uses a cell phone to call Dee. What makes the scene fun for me, is that the phone is in a bright pink case. I love the juxtaposition of the Crow Goddess in her black leather with silver studs, having a cell phone in a pink case. It makes the monster just a little less scary.
SH: Great cliffhanger end slash beginning! How hard was it (is it still) to keep that secret?
MS: The ending to the Enchantress was actually the first piece I wrote. So I spent six years working towards that particular scene and actually, when I came right up to the end, I found I could slot in it almost untouched from the piece I wrote all those years ago. When you come to the end of The Enchantress, you should be able to go right back and start book one again, and watch all the pieces, the little clues and hints, fall into place.
And yes, it has been tricky in this internet age, keeping the ending under wraps. It always disappoints me when someone goes and deliberately posts spoilers.
SH: All those different shadow realms and timelines! How did you keep everyone, the knowledge, the relationships, and the events straight?
MS: Notes. Lots and lots of notes. Initially, they were all on paper, a separate loose-leaf binder for each subject – Immortal Humans, Creatures, Places, Dates…
Later on, I transferred all the data to a mind mapping program called Mind Manager and also a program called TheBrain. Both of these control the entire Flamel world, and of course, they include all the bits which never made it into the main stories, or background notes which the characters sometimes mention. The series is around 650,000 words in total. The notes are in excess of a million words.
SH: So many endings and so much sadness. How many tissues did you go through while you were writing this series finale? Was there one passage that made you cry harder than the others?
MS: It is true that some of the deaths were harder than others, but I like to think that those who die get a grand send off. There is a scene on the bridge where (spoiler free zone) one character gets a second chance and the dying character gives them a piece of advice. It’s an incredibly emotional scene and took me ages to just to get it down, and about a dozen attempts to get it right.
And again, right at the end, just when you think it’s all over, there is a final letter from one character to another. If you can read that without weeping, you have a heart of stone!
SH: You are given the chance to create a shadow realm of your own, what does it look like and how does it function? Would you want to name it?
MS: It actually appears in the books: it is Tir na nOg, the Land of the Ever Young from Irish mythology. It is an island Shadowrealm and always day – a late Autumnal day, when the sun is low in the skies and the light is golden. And, like the traditional Tir na nOg, time moves very slowly on the island: a day here is a year on our world.
SH: Many gods, elders, next generation, immortals and humani were introduced during the series! Do you have any particular favorite(s) or anyone you wish you had created a bigger role for within the series?
MS: Yes, there are a few characters who did not make it. I really wanted to include Temujin, whom we know as Genghis Khan, into the series. He was going to be a friend of Niten. However, as the character of Niten developed, his relationship with Aoife became more important and I felt that to introduce another warrior would be an unnecessary layer.
Also, I know Billy had a big role in the series, but he grew to such a great character – and his relationship with Machiavelli was such fun to write – that I really could give him his own series.
SH: Aunt Agnes has many secrets to spill, the most surprising might be that magic doesn’t exist. Instead a person’s power is based on their qi (or aura) and on their imagination. What’s the most incredible thing you think anyone has ever created by using their imagination?
MS: Every single invention starts with an act of imagination. All the worlds art, from a caveman putting his hand on the wall, to the works of Leonardo or Dali, comes from an act of imagination. Every written word begins with that “what if” or “I wonder…”
There is a great quote from Albert Einstein:
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
SH: If Abraham the Mage gave you an emerald tablet, what topics would you hope might be addressed? Why?
MS: I’d hope never to get an emerald tablet from the Mage! Just think about what happened to all those people he wrote them for!
If you really could know the future, would you want to? Because if you knew the future, surely the very act of knowing it, would change it? And it would make for a very boring life. We shape our future every day simply by not knowing what is to come.
SH: They’re making a movie from your series! Who would you like to cast as the main characters? Who would you like to direct the film?
MS: I was very careful when I wrote the series not to have any actors in my head. And when you read the books you will find that the descriptions are deliberately vague. I want the reader to put their own face to the characters. I have seen some great fan casting suggestions – I particularly liked the idea of Hugh Laurie to play either Dee or Machiavelli, and the German actor, Christoph Waltz to play Flamel. However, I have always thought that my good friend, Armin Shimerman, should play Dee. (Armin played Quark on DS9 and Principle Snyder on Buffy.) Many years ago, we wrote a series of books together about Dr John Dee, transposing him from the 16th Century to the modern world. When the artist created the cover art, they used Armin as the model.
SH: What’s the best, or most surprising, question you’ve ever been asked?-On any topic!
MS: I have toured for all six books and I’ve been asked some fabulous – and sometimes breath-taking – questions or comments.
In Austin, Texas, just after a book signing, a couple approached me and told me they knew my “secret.” They were convinced that I was Dr John Dee and the books were not fiction, but a lightly fictionalized true history of the world! They are also absolutely serious.
In Washington, I was told that I could not have written the books, because I was not old enough.
I am often asked if Michael Scott my real name (it is).
Books by Michael Scott
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series
The Alchemyst. Delacorte Press, 2007. 375p. $16.99. 978-0-385-90372-1. VOYA June 2007. 5Q 4P M J
The Magician. Delacorte Press, 2008. 455p. $16.99. 978-0-385-73358-8. VOYA August 2008. 4Q 4P M J
The Sorceress. Delacorte Press, 2009. 488p. $17.99. 978-0-385-90515-2. VOYA October 2009. 4Q 4P J S
The Necromancer. Delacorte Press, 2010. 403p. $18.99. 978-0-385-73531-5. VOYA August 2010. 4Q 5P M J
The Warlock. Delacorte Press, 2011. 385p. $18.99. 978-0-385-73533-9. VOYA August 2011. 5Q 4P M J S
The Enchantress. Delacorte Press, 2012. 517p. $18.99. 978-0-385-73535-3. VOYA October 2012. 4Q 4P M J S
Michael Scott Online
Official Website: http://www.dillonscott.com/
Online Flamel Games: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/alchemyst/games.php
Fan Forum: http://www.flamels-immortal-portal.com/
Stacey Hayman is … Wha…? Oh, hey there. Um, could you please not bother me right now? I’m reading -Thanks!