Interview with Lou Kemp, author of magical realism The Raven and the Pig
As the music dies, the magician Celwyn is mortally wounded. His darker, immortal brother Pelaez brings him back, barely, with his magic. The party of protagonists travel on the Nautilus to the Cape Verde Islands and the healer of immortals. During the journey, Professor Kang and Bartholomew can not tell if Pelaez will keep his brother alive. Captain Nemo is ready to evict Pelaez forcibly, and keeping Celwyn alive is the only thing that restrains him.
After Celwyn is saved, the healer requests payment for his services. This sends the adventurers to the catacombs in Capuchin where their experience is one they will not forget. Before it is over, several of the protagonists question why it seems everyone from warlocks and vampires to witches, seem to be congregating in their world. Before it is over, some of them become surprising allies, and a few of their allies turn against them.
In part II, work on the new flying machine begins in earnest bringing attention from the Mafioso and a cherub-like warlock called Duncan. After a final battle with Duncan, the flying machine is destroyed and everyone at their compound is murdered by one of their own.
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Excerpt from The Raven and the Pig
The rolling hills near Odessa, north of Constantinople 1867
With each step he took, Professor Xiau Kang sensed the intensity, and importance of what he would find. Above all, he felt the weight of his sadness. He had done his best to ignore that there was no guarantee Captain Nemo had located Thales, if Nemo failed to find him, Jonas Celwyn would be dead within a matter of days, perhaps hours.
A long time ago, on the Zelda, the magician had doubted a mechanical man could feel. Kang paused, swaying on his feet as he fought to regain his control; at this moment, the automat knew real despair, a wrenching grief that they would lose Jonas. He swallowed hard and walked faster, climbing to the top of the berm.
There she was! The long black submarine lay still in the water. A single sailor stood on patrol, and another perched in the cage on top with a spyglass.
Kang called, “I’ll get Mr. Celwyn. Please let the Captain know we’re here.”
Conductor Smith joined him as they ran back to the coach. The others had seen them and began unloading the magician onto the stretcher that Kang had fashioned for this moment. He skidded to a stop and grabbed Celwyn’s hand.
“The Nautilus is here. It isn’t far.”
In the distance, a low hum reached them; the sound sputtered and grew stronger.
The magician’s eyes opened slowly, like a thread from his memory raised his lids, impelling him to look. Everyone, including Jonas, gazed upward, as if they had already known what was to come.
The noise grew louder, and then a bright yellow flying machine crested the low hills and headed toward the estuary.
“Yes!” Kang shouted, raising his fist in triumph.
The plane swerved to the north, banked, and then flew toward them again in a wide arc.
“Oh, my God, it’s Bartholomew,” Elizabeth exclaimed.
Bartholomew wore a broad smile and his scarf fluttered in the breeze as he sailed over them. He waved. As he banked again, the engine revved and he turned, descending for another pass. Celwyn raised himself onto an elbow to wave back.
“Hurry,” Kang said. “Bartholomew is going to land. We have to get Jonas onto the ship.”
Interview with Lou Kemp
-What inspired you to become a writer?
As a child, I read about 5-6 books a week, and it inspired lots of dreaming, which inspired plots. I didn’t try to write anything until my late teens, and sold my first story to a small press in my early twenties. All my adult life I wanted to work as a writer, not as a regular job worker. Now, I can and I am happy.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I would live in that world if possible. Like Celwyn, I could be very happy living on the Nautilus and seeing the world above the water line and below. The adventures make it all the more interesting.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
Ah…Let’s assume I am Professor Kang this time…at two in the morning, I am awake since as an automat I do not really sleep. I’m bored, sitting in the map room of the Nautilus looking at the undersea shelves in the Arctic Circle. This leads to remembering my first glimpse of the magical power of Jonas Celwyn. Although I spend my time admonishing him for his flamboyant magical tendencies that draw attention to us, I will never forget what he did to the ship of automats. After he exploded their magazine he enclosed them in a wondrous cloud of ice, entombing them. I admire what he did, but usually do not tell him because he would be even more ostentatious and outlandish the next time.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
All of them, even Jules Verne. The little guy sometimes has some insights the others miss and it is easy to read his thoughts.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
Actually, Prince Leo, from the prequel and book 1, is a dwarf who does similar things to Celwyn. Like him, I would just control the dwarf if I can’t reason with him.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I would not be good at, or enjoy writing straight fiction. A majority of it I find as too emotional at the expense of plot, or just boring. I need a dead body or a fantastical creature chewing on someone’s ear.
About Lou Kemp
Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.
I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.
More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.
2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.
2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.
2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.
Present The full length prequel, The Violins Played before Junstan, to the Celwyn book series is published on Kindle. The companion book, Farm Hall is also published where Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother, makes his first appearance. The remaining books in the series: Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, will be available beginning in August 2021.
Find Lou online:
Lou Kemp will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner, a 2nd randomly drawn winner a mug and pen with the book image and a 3rd randomly drawn winner will win a eBook via rafflecopter during the tour.