The much-anticipated sequel to The Immortal City is finally here! Author Amy Kuivalainen talks about how the Dead Sea Scrolls inspired her new release The Sea of the Dead and shares more on the magicians of Atlantis and what’s to come in the series and beyond.
“…lives up to its predecessor. Kuivalainan is working in a new space in urban fantasy, one that includes sweet romance, mystery, mythology, and alternative history elements, which only expands the series’ appeal.”— Booklist
About The Sea of the Dead: The battle for Venice might be over, but the war is just beginning… Penelope’s and Alexis’s adventure continues in this exciting second installment of The Magicians of Venice series.
Penelope has accepted her role as the new Archivist for the magicians, but with war brewing on the horizon and the tide of magic on the rise, she’s going to have to learn her way around this new and dangerous world if she has any hope of outsmarting their enemies.
When Penelope’s friend and fellow archaeologist uncovers a scroll containing a magical secret lost in the Dead Sea for two thousand years, Penelope and Alexis must travel to Israel to find them before Abaddon and Kreios get there first.
To defeat Thevetat and his followers, they’ll need to find a weapon capable of ending him for good. As her old life collides with her new, Penelope will soon discover the price of keeping the magicians’ secrets safe.
- The story opens at an archaeological dig in Qumran, the home of the Essenes and the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls. What is it about the scrolls that fascinates you? Why did you choose this artifact over another?
I wanted to introduce readers to the Dead Sea Scrolls, as they are an archaeological mystery and discovery that a lot of people might not be familiar with. Unlike Egypt, for example, they aren’t something that’s in mainstream media for anyone to have preconceived notions about. I have always been fascinated with them, and the time period when the Essenes lived at Qumran was such a tumultuous time in the Near East. Like Atlantis, there are conspiracy theories galore around them because there is so much that archaeologists are still learning and discovering about them. I love historical mysteries because it gives me wriggle room to insert fantasy aspects into my story.
- The discovery of Qumran Cave 12 in 2017 figures prominently in the novel. Have you ever been there?
I haven’t! I had a trip planned a few years ago but then conflict really kicked up in the West Bank and I was advised to cancel–but it’s definitely one place I want to go. I was studying the Scrolls at university when Cave 12 was found so it was a really exciting event that stuck with me because it was a real-time discovery.
- Unlike Penelope, the magicians are very old and have seen much of the world’s history. How do you keep track of them?
Lots of notebooks! Also, the events they have seen and been a part of kind of feed off themselves. For example, I know that Alexis spent a lot of time in Istanbul and the Middle East, so he would have seen the Crusaders sacking of Constantinople, and its fall to Mehmet II in 1453. But yes…lots of notebooks!
- The magicians are fascinating and it’s clear your readers love them! How did you come up with this concept?
The concept of the Magicians started as one of my favorite Atlantean theories mashed with another. The first is where survivors of the cataclysm ended up in Egypt as refugees. There is also another tie to Egypt with the much-speculated figure of Sonchis of Sais, an Egyptian priest who told Solon the history of Atlantis, who passed it onto Plato. The other theory is that survivors were scattered around the world and taught their knowledge to Mayans, for example, who like the Egyptians were so advanced in many ways. I loved the concept of there being survivors and as a result of the cataclysm being altered forever, and using their knowledge to help out where they could.
Because I’m a history nut as well as a fantasy writer, I couldn’t walk away from it as there is real archaeological evidence that the Myceneans used to trade with Egypt before the cataclysm that wiped them out, so the link between them and Egypt was strong enough historically that I could believe it and build a foundation on it.
- Character development is clearly one of your strengths. What’s the secret to creating memorable characters like Penelope and the magicians?
Believability is always my main goal because there is always a lot of magic and fantasy in my books. I like to give my characters flaws and weaknesses that readers can relate to because no one is going to believe a perfect character because there’s no such thing as a perfect person. Also, perfection is boring to write and boring to read. I get bored easily, so I always want to make sure I can be entertained for the long duration of writing a trilogy. Knowing what your characters fear and desire are also good starting blocks because, like all people, that’s what will shape their actions and motivations.
“To put it simply, Amy Kuivalainen has hit it out of the park again…”— Teresa Lang, Escape Reality Open a Book
- Tell us more about the magicians. Who is your favorite to write and why?
Alexis is the main magician in the series and he kind of takes over as their leader in book 2 because of circumstances in book 1. He’s called “The Defender” by the others as a way to tease him, but also because his job has always been to protect the magicians from being discovered and compromised by humans. He was a general in the conflict on Atlantis and had the other magicians serving under him so he has never lost that position among them. He is someone who is warrior-scholar which makes him a dynamic character to write as he has these two sides always in conflict with each other.
Zo is a magician who uses poetry and words to channel his magic. He’s the most romantic and in many ways the peace keeper of the group. He’s the family man who feeds everyone and looks after everyone. He accepts Penelope quickly into their fold and is definitely her sympathetic ear when all the other magicians are driving her crazy.
Aelia is the diva. There is no denying she is the Beyonce of the team. She uses singing to channel her magic so she’s obsessed with music. She is the only one of the magicians that didn’t serve in the war under Alexis in Atlantis, because she was a high priestess and a noble so that shapes her diva tendencies. It also makes her have a different story of having to adapt surviving the cataclysm with the magicians, and she kind of had to earn her place and respect among them. She is someone that has a lot of hidden layers and uses her snark to hide her heart.
Phaidros is a hopeless flirt, whose magic is the manipulation of energy and can use it to affect moods and get what he wants if you aren’t watching him. He was Alexis’s second-in-command, so he is a warrior badass but isn’t as stern and serious. He likes to hide how smart he actually is by having a certain persona to protect himself.
Lyca is pure warrior. On Atlantis, she was a weaponsmith before she became a magician and that shapes her. She is also the assassin of the group, and her loyalty to Nereus was absolute. She is a complicated, stern, powerful person who takes a while to win over, and who is almost impossible to impress.
Galenos is the shyest and possibly the quietest of the magicians. His magic has always revolved around technology and he can manipulate it to give him whatever he needs. He is bookish but also has a badass side that comes out when it needs to.
My favorite is definitely Alexis, which isn’t a surprise. He’s part romance, part violence and it makes him a complicated person to love. He loves the magicians, even though they drive him crazy, and has had to make a lot of impossibly hard decisions over the centuries to keep them safe. His love of magic shapes every part of him. One minute he’s the nerdy scholar and can turn on a dime to be this terrifying general, and writing that was always a delight.
- The series features an interesting and unique cast of baddies—Thevetat, Kreios, Abaddon. Tell us more about them.
I always try and make my baddies as interesting as my main characters with fears and desires that drive them. I like baddies who either don’t think they are the bad, or that simply don’t care, and this group is a combination of both. Thevetat, Abaddon, and Kreios all have very different motivations for doing what they do. Book 2 definitely explores these guys more. Kreios is someone with layers and I think he’ll end up surprising readers the most; he certainly surprised me when he came out with his story.
- This is the second book in the series, the first being The Immortal City. How is The Sea of the Dead different from the first book?
The Sea of the Dead really builds on some of the themes and conflicts that were established in The Immortal City. It follows Penelope settling in her new role as an Archivist and finding her place in the dynamic of the Magicians. I also wanted to explore the consequences of her decision to stay in Venice, how it impacts her friends and family and how her relationship with Alexis evolves.
The Sea of the Dead has more of a treasure hunt/mystery feel to it as opposed to book 1 which was more of a murder mystery. It has the dark side of archaeology and obsession, too, with mentions of antiquities black markets. Readers can also expect a lot more back story on all of the magicians which is always fun and interesting to explore.
- What do readers have to look forward to in The King’s Seal, the final book in the series?
The King’s Seal is…epic. I don’t know how else to describe it. It is a treasure hunt through time, looking for King Solomon’s ring (for reasons that will become apparent by the end of book 2). It took a lot of research, touching on many different time periods and tying closely to the magicians own history. There is a new, historical giant that joins the team who I will gush over when it won’t be a big spoiler. The third book also really has Penelope coming into her own, learning more about her given magic, and will also tie up a lot of mysteries surrounding Atlantis.
- Life after the magicians?
Life after the magicians is mainly focused on prepping the world for the relaunch of Cry of the Firebird. It’s a series I wrote pre-magicians and is getting a revamp and some extra stories based in the world. I wanted the Magicians world to feel as real as possible to readers, where the Firebird series is the opposite, where I wanted to make the world as intensely magical as possible, despite it being contemporary fantasy and seemingly based in our world. It’s the real world but…twisted.
There are a lot of myths I draw on and retell in the series, but they are changed slightly to reflect the differences in the world and character or god I’m talking about. Like all of my books, I did a lot of research for it but into myth and magical practices and not ancient history. At the time, I was really tired of reading only about vampires and werewolves and super identifiable creatures in my Urban Fantasy so I decided I was going to find all of the supernatural creatures that haven’t really gotten a heap of press. It’s a weird, fun, and dark series that I know paranormal and urban fantasy fans will enjoy.
About the Author:
Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer who is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras, and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until that happens, she plans to write about monsters, magic, mythology and fairy tales because that’s the next best thing. She enjoys practicing yoga and spending her time hanging out with her German Shepherd, Duke in the beautiful city of Melbourne.
Her upcoming Firebird Faerie Tale series combines Russian and Finnish mythology with legends, magic, the mysterious firebird and her love of reluctant heroes. Cry of the Firebird, book one in the series, is slated for release fall 2021 from BHC Press.
Check out the author’s website for more information about her blog, books, and Amy herself!
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