I loved Blake Charlton’s gargoyle in Spellwright and Spellbound. I also love the legend in general. It’s such a fantastical idea—having powerful, stone creatures protecting their building homes—that it is ripe for stories beyond the Gargoyles cartoon most of us remember.
Well, Anton Strout has tackled it head on. He has taken the gargoyle myth and transferred it to a unique urban fantasy novels titled Alchemystic, which hits bookstores today!
Here is a bit more about Alchemystic:
AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…
Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather.
But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…
Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason–an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.
Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…
I decided to interview Anton Strout about his new novel and why urban fantasy lovers might want to give it a try! Interview follows!
NEW RELEASE INTERVIEW: ALCHEMYSTIC BY ANTON STROUT
Shawn Speakman: Hey Anton! Your new book, ALCHEMYSTIC, is in fine bookstores today. Tell Unbound Worlds readers a bit about it!
Anton Strout: Other than it’s glorified Gargoyles fan-fic?! Ace Books asked me for other series ideas beyond my Simon Canderous urban fantasy one, and I had a short story that went to a collection a few years ago that was still niggling at me. I realized there was a lot more that happened both before and after the action I covered in the short, so I began writing what is now the beginning of The Spellmason Chronicles.
Alchemystic is a dual character first person narrative told from two points of view:
Alexandra Belarus, a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure…
Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis. He well knows the Belarus name… Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason–an artisan who could work magic on stone.
And the tale takes off from there as they work to uncover the past of both the Belarus clan and Stanis himself. To my mind, it’s a bit of a modern day dungeon crawler. I’m a gamer at heart. I can’t help it.
SS: How did you approach writing two characters who are very different from yourself — a female main character in Alexandra and a gargoyle? Unless you consider yourself a gargoyle at times…?
AS: Stylistically, I’m all over my book but the hardest part of pulling off the dual first person narrative are the differences I went with in creating their distinctive voices. You can definitely tell it’s a book written in my style, but the way Alexandra and Stanis observe the world and report it to the reader varies.
With Alexandra, I’m very much in touch with my inner twenty-two-year old female artist. As a sculptor she observes the world with a certain eye and is far more about the details she takes in during any of her situations. She more likely to notice the lines of someone’s face instead of just their eye color or she can tell by architecture what building’s her great-great grandfather had a hand in. She’s all about the details and following her true passion of art.
Stanis, in many ways, is a different beast to write for in the first person. While he’s watched humanity for centuries, he has always been outside it. Because of that disconnect, he doesn’t get or speak in idiomatic language. He also doesn’t contract words at all and as such comes off a bit more stoic and stiff, which works for him. There’s a childlike curiosity to him as he grows, but it’s like a dangerous Lenny in Of Mice & Men Squish a Puppy by Mistake kinda way.
SS: When it comes to Stanis, did you do any research on gargoyles? The French legend of La Gargouille? Or does it not matter since Stanis was created by Alexandra’s great-great grandfather in the US?
AS: I did some research on them, but I tend to twist things to my needs–part of their mythos mixed with a little bit of D&D Monster Manual. I love the French legend, but in general I prefer the term ‘grotesque’ (as does Stanis, heh) because there’s that great Victor Hugo quote:
“As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.”
When I originally read that I imagined this ‘grotesque’ creature both natural as well as creature rich with power. (Although the cover art shows a more attractive than grotesque version of Stanis that I imagined… hey, it’s cover art, whatcha gonna do?)
And, not wanting to give too much away, Stanis was created in Europe in Belarus, and despite the French focus of the legend, La Gargouille was surely a tale that made its rounds throughout Europe by the time of Stanis’ creation.
Rumors of them breathing fire may or may not be an exaggeration… either way, you don’t want to be in a position where you find out, at least not the hard way.
SS: Speaking of creature rich in power, I see that you and Patrick Rothfuss are doing something cool. Care to explain what that is to Unbound Worlds readers?
AS: Sure. Mr. Rothfuss is my natural enemy in the wild, and as such he is trying to bankrupt me! HOW? For every pre-order of Alchemystic in whatever format, I give a dollar to his Worldbuilders charity that benefits Heifer International. For the first $1,500 of that, my publisher Penguin is going to match that donation.
People interested in:
1) Helping baby ducks and feeding the world
2) Getting a new urban fantasy series to start
3) Helping my nemesis destroy me financially
should definitely move quick to get their pre-order in. Pat has the full details at his blog:
Offer void if you take him up on his fortune cookie plan to kill me in my sleep.
SS: That is a great idea! It benefits everyone involved. When you mentioned #2 and “getting a new urban fantasy series to start,” I have to ask: Where are you on the sequel?
AS: I have it all mapped out and am trying to gel it together at this point with a few months left to turn it in. Right now, I’m a book a year kind of writer. I’m also trying to fit in finishing up an as yet unsold YA Dickensian Steampunk Iron Man Voltron-y kind of thing so I can start doing a better cycle of getting books out around my day job.
SS: A busy man then! I’ll leave ya to your work. Any last words to those who might want to pick up a copy of the new book?
AS: I’ve had a lot of fun writing both the Simon Canderous series and the Spellmason Chronicles so far, and the warm fuzzy reader love has been the icing on the book cake… mmm, book cake…. readers I think a lot of people will dig Alchemystic, especially if they miss Gargoyles, the Beauty & the Beast TV show, or really just want a bit of lightness mixed in with their urban fantasy. And if you’re coming to New York Comic Con where I’ll be chained to the Penguin booth handing out Stanis buttons that say “get stoned”!
Alchemystic by Anton Strout is in fine bookstores today! Do yourself a favor and buy a copy. It is the start of a new series but you’ll be helping a very good cause with Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders!