In Lord Wyvern, our grand villain of the series has emerged. He is powerful, cunning, diabolical, brash, confident, and relentless. He is named after the mythological wyvern (a winged, two-legged dragon) and physically resembles a pre-flood giant, or a Nephilim. He has big goals and will stop at nothing to achieve them. These will come to light in the final installment, due out next year. Zolond would be wise to keep a close eye on Wyvern...
So, if we were so fortunate to have Gryphon Chronicles movies made, who would be our dream actor to play Wyvern?
We do get asked quite often about which actors we'd like to see play the different Gryphon Chronicles characters. In general, it's really hard for us to choose, and not something we spend a whole lot of time thinking about. Every once in a while, we'll see a little red-head in a movie, and think Dani, or a big tough guy, and think Derek Stone. But honestly, this is a REALLY tough question for us to answer.
However, with Lord Wyvern, it's easy. Benedict Cumberbatch by a mile.
We're curious... Do you have any famous actors/actresses in mind when you're reading The Gryphon Chronicles?
Sir Peter clapped his hands together once. “Very well, then. Listen up, people! Our destination is in Central Asia—the Karakum Desert, to be exact, east of the Caspian Sea. Thanks to Henry du Val, we have learned that the Black Fortress currently sits…I’m not joking…at the bottom of a fiery crater in the middle of this desert.”
And so the Order warriors find out where they will shortly do battle with the Dark Druids...
Yes, it's real!! Sometimes you stumble across a location that just demands to be a part of a book. When we discovered quite by accident that there is literally a fiery crater that's been burning for 40 years in the middle of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, it jumped out at us like the PERFECT place for uber-villain Zolond and company to park the Black Fortress for a while - especially since locals and journalists alike have dubbed the spot the "Door to Hell." Check it out!
Geologists, in early 1971, while drilling for oil, accidentally hit a pocket of gas, which in turn collapsed the ground under their feet, and thus formed the Crater of Karakum. It was originally NOT on fire, but it was determined to be leaking poisonous gasses, particularly methane. Rather than risking the health of the citizens living in neighboring towns and villages, the geologists decided to burn off the volatile gasses by alighting the crater on fire. They thought it would burn for a matter of a few days. But like a giant Bunsen burner, it's been flaming & smoldering ever since.
The leader of the Dark Druids, Zolond, couldn't resist such an incendiary location. Hidden from view below the surface & virtually impenetrable, it made for the perfect location to continue with his diabolical plans. What are his plans? you ask. Hmm? We can't say just yet. You'll have to wait for the final installment of The Gryphon Chronicles to find out!
Hi Everyone! Eric here. People sometimes ask us if Gael and I ever disagree about aspects of the story. That doesn't happen very often, to be honest, but here's a funny SECRETS OF THE DEEP behind-the-scenes moment for ya that will prove that *I* am actually the nice one. (Don't tell her I said that, ha, ha. Love you, honey!)
Below, I have posted two versions of the exact same scene. The first one ended up in the book (you're welcome, Inkbug). The second was the original version that Gael wanted to leave, but I didn't think it was, er, such a good idea.
Hopefully you'll remember this scene? Jake had just used a healing Gryphon feather to fix Maddox's busted-up shoulders, and then the gang all went running up into the villa to send an Inkbug message to the Order so they could get a little adult help from Sir Peter, Finderool, anybody! Once inside, here's what they found...
Version 1 (Eric's choice)
Then they all went back up to the house.
Awww... Poor little Inkbug with a broken antenna. Sound familiar? Kinda sad, right?
Well, brace yourself, here's how the original scene went. Parents, you may want to get any small children out of the room. Mua-ha-ha...
Version 2 (Gael's choice)
Then they all went back up to the house.
The Inkbug was just lying there "smashed amid the furniture!" SMASHED AMID THE FURNITURE!!! Oh, the horror! Gael doesn't really like bugs in general. (She's a girly girl about certain things). I don't know if she was in a bad mood or what, but she had added that charming little detail without consulting with me first.
She didn't think it would matter and that nobody would care about the silly Inkbug. "They could just get another one," she had said. Can you imagine??
Well, I thought people would care, especially our young readers. The Inkbugs have become like charming little pets over the years. They are like members of the family. True, we never went so far as to name them, but I argued that if there was no need to kill the Inkbug, then let's not.
She said, "Well, if the Inkbug is okay, then they can just call for the adults, who'll come and handle it, and the darn story will be over with a whimper -- it's gotta end with a bang!"
We went back and forth over this for quite a while. Who could've guessed the little Inkbug could ever be so important? Ultimately, I came up with the idea of a broken antenna so it couldn't transmit messages. This satisfied her, I won the argument, marital bliss was restored, and the poor little guy was granted a stay of execution, lol. This minor edit was actually one of the last changes we made to the manuscript before it went to press.
So which version do you like better? Would it have been a little traumatic to splat the Inkbug or was I wrong and you wouldn't have cared if he got squashed under the furniture? We would love to hear your opinion.
Disclaimer: No actual insects were harmed in the making of this book.
Alicia Mirabilis a.k.a. sea candles... Did you think we made them up? Nope, they're real! And they are, in fact, bioluminescent. Once again, Nature proves just as magical as imaginary things!
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. A firefly is the perfect example that we are all familiar with (pictured here in super-HD). You can click the image for an extreme close-up. Bioluminescence occurs in nature more often than you might think. Examples can be found in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, some fungi, and scores of microorganisms including bacteria and terrestrial invertebrates. Click on any of the below picture to enlarge:
Alicia mirabilis is a type of sea anemone found in such countries as Azores, Portugal, Spain and such seas as the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Divers will go out in tour groups at night to view them underwater. As night falls, this amazing sea anemone changes shape, expanding its body and tentacles to catch food. It's main body can reach up to 16 inches long and its sweeping tentacles can extend out from its body another 3 feet.
Here's the one small catch where our fiction departs from marine biology: Small berrylike protrusions all along the body, and also embedded in the tentacles, contain a neurotoxin! An unassuming trap, these cells contain a poisonous harpoon type needle that when brushed across by a prey, fires, injecting the toxic chemicals into the unsuspecting little fishy, quickly causing paralysis and death. At least if you're a fish.
Now, the poison is not strong enough to kill humans (or mermaids for that matter), but it can cause pain, sort of like being stung by a jellyfish. So, in reality, although Sapphira might be tempted to pry one of these little guys off a rock to light her way, it probably wouldn't be wise. We felt a little bit of artistic license here could be granted. :)
Finally, here's a brief video of alicia mirabilis in its natural environment...
Hi Everyone! Eric here... One of the most enjoyable and yet challenging aspects of writing SECRETS OF THE DEEP was creating all of the unusual creature characters -- and trying to do it in a way that hasn't already been done a million times before. From the fish-folk of Driftwood to the locust insectoid thing to the half-ogre Noxu warriors, there were a lot of strange beings in this book! LOL. Far more than in most of the other Gryphon Chronicles books.
It seemed like every other day we were brainstorming either brand new creatures, like the colony in the Seaweed Forest, or trying to put a new spin on familiar ones from old legends, like Davy Jones himself, in a new and fresh way. "Ow, my brain!" So much thinking!! lol.
The legend of Davy Jones and his Locker, by the way, goes back several hundred years (perhaps as far back as the 1500s), long before the Pirates of the Caribbean movie popularized the dread, undead pirate. (Loved those, but would've preferred a happy ending to the series rather than one that was kind of sad!) In my research, I dug up a lot of fun material on Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman, which I hope to get to in another blog post, but since we're talking about the weird creatures, how about Thresher Shark Man??
First Mate Carnahan is truly intimidating (at least Dani thinks so!) in the way he uses his long tail to whip the crew of the Flying Dutchman into action. Watch the video below and you'll see what inspired us to base First Mate Carnahan on this most unusual creature. They really do that with their tails! Isn't Nature amazing? Here's a shark who will smack you upside your head...THEN eat you. :) Well, that's different, anyway! *g*
“Well! Since the other children cannot see me, do give them my warmest regards… And I shall GO!!!” Constanzio sang, lifting his arms out theatrically to his sides.
Hi Everyone! Gael here. :) In SECRETS OF THE DEEP, we meet up once again with the lovable & charming Constanzio, king of the tenors. I gotta admit, I get such a kick out of writing this character. He's one of my favorites among the minor characters. I talked about this months ago in an earlier blog, but I felt like bringing it up again.
It is very rare that Eric and I take inspiration directly from a real person, but when I saw the below classic clip of the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, I knew with that BIG personality, he would make a great model for a jovial ghost character. And since I admire great artists of all kinds, I thought, why not? A humble fictional tribute to one of the greatest musical artists of the last century. Check out this brief classic clip of the larger-than-life Pavarotti. "You gonna love it! Magnifico!"
Amazing voice aside, I love his over-the-top facial expressions and contagious smile. I can see why millions around the world hailed Pavarotti as the rightful owner of the title, the real King of the Tenors!
Did you know Pavarotti was actually an elementary school teacher for two years before becoming a worldwide star? How would you guys like to have him as your teacher? Now THAT would make for a crazy day at school!
Ciao for now, Bellissimas & Bellisimos! ;)
On a Grand Tour, the Victorians would pack all of their belongings into a "steamer trunk" (also called "packers," "flat-tops," or "cabin trunks). They first appeared in the late 1870s -- Jake's time! So while the gang is traveling all over "the Continent" (as Europe, minus England, was traditionally called) visiting amazing sites, you can picture them lugging around a big stack of these travel trunks. Well, they probably had servitors doing all the heavy lifting, but you get the idea. :)
Steamer trunks had either a flat or slightly curved top and were usually covered in canvas, leather, or patterned paper. Just as we have to deal with specific luggage sizes when traveling, the Victorians, if they wanted passage on certain steamships, had to contend with a height regulation of only 14 inches. Yikes! Sounds kind of small. But, keep in mind, in that day, people didn't have as many outfits as we do, and they wore the same clothes many more times than we would consider acceptable before laundering. The Victorians had a different sense of cleanliness then we moderns do. Like Eliza Dolittle told Professor Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, "I washed me face 'n' 'ands before I come, I did!" (And yet, the Victorians were generally cleaner people than in earlier periods! Yikes.)
All of the below photos come from a website called The Pirate's Lair. They sell antique steamer trunks and lots of other really cool shippy/piratey stuff. Arrrrgh, Matey! Check 'em out! I'm thinkin' coffee table???
Eric here... Great-Great Aunt Ramona, in her efforts to keep Jake safe, sure did search high and low for the right spot to hide out. If you click the map to the right you can see the various locations she inspected from Paris to Capri before settling on the seaside resort town of Taormina. And even though they didn't end up staying in one place for very long, over the course of several weeks they visited some pretty AMAZING places. After you're done looking at the Google interactive map, check out the Grand Tour in pictures, below. Mmm, France! Ahh, Italy... Get ready for some armchair travel, which at least spares you from waiting in airport security lines...
The kids felt right at home in Florence Italy, the "cradle of the Renaissance." Humanism, philosophy, literature, art, high culture, architecture, science... But alas, it was not meant to be. Although gorgeous and a wellspring of educational opportunities, Aunt Ramona ultimately deemed it unacceptable and they moved on.
Gael and I went to London, the Lake District of England (book nerd girl's homage to the Lake Poets) and then on to Paris and the Loire Valley for our honeymoon. Magnifique! And years ago, when I was about Jake's age, I went with my family to Rome. We had tons of fun and even got robbed. Very memorable! Have you been to any of these places? What are the top destinations on your travel wish list? We'd love to hear about it. Wishing you all the best!