Figuring out a clever way to free Aleeyah from her smoke form and give her back her body was one of the hardest parts of writing THE BLACK FORTRESS. Ugh!!! We put off writing this scene for as long as we possibly could. And then when it was finally time to make it happen, we must have spent a week writing, rewriting, and brain-storming different ideas. Oh ~ and researching actual sciencey things.
As authors, (and generally optimistic people), we believe that if we set our minds to it, we can solve any plotting issue. But, honestly, after several days of going around in circles, this one had us a bit worried. Poor Aleeyah! Things were not looking good for her. Plus, we wanted to keep Jake front and center somehow, while showcasing Archie and Nixie's talents.
Eventually, after a basket full of wadded up balls of paper, we started to get it. "Eureka!" as Archie would say. Gael sketched the below rendition of Archie's contraption, Eric calculated all of the mathematics and physics behind the plan, and we both attacked the scene.
Getting what's in our heads into the reader's mind was the challenge. The below description comes directly from the sketch.
Is this how you pictured it? And how did you like Archie and Nixie's solution to rescue Aleeyah?
Excerpt from Chapter 26:
The boy genius had come up with some odd inventions in his day, but this one had to be the strangest of them all.
The large, grayish metal contraption looked like an upside-down salad bowl with flat, shallow sides. Around fifteen feet in diameter, the center—or the base of the overturned salad bowl—stood as tall as Jake’s chest, while the sides sloped down to the level of his shins.
A metal pole about six feet tall stuck up through the center of the contraption, a sturdy leather strap or belt wrapped around it, and as Jake’s gaze traveled along it, he saw the belt was attached to a seat of gears several feet away.
Oh, how Archie loved making things with gears.
The upper sprocket was set horizontally, so that the belt from the pole could also travel around it, but the lower sprocket that it melded with was set vertically, at a right angle to the first.
Likewise, the lower sprocket had a leather belt wrapped around it—longwise in this case, while the other ran sideways.
But the belt on the lower gear was connected to the front wheel of, lo and behold, a velocipede.
Ugh, Jake hated those things: teetering, tall bicycles. You could break your neck on one of those things if you fell over. (Plus, they reminded him of Loki.)
In any case, this particular high-wheeler, or penny-farthing, as they were commonly known, wasn’t going anywhere. It had been safely secured on wooden blocks a couple of inches off the ground.