Scott's latest book in 'Nicholas Flamel' series compelling

Published: Sunday, Oct. 12 2008 12:15 a.m. MDT

Even in person, Michael Scott is a storyteller. It's a gift seemingly ingrained in the timbre of his voice and reinforced by his vast knowledge of history and the modern world.

The Irish-born author has more than 100 books to his name, ranging from horror and fantasy to romance and science fiction. But it's his most recent creation, a six-part young-adult fantasy series, titled "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel," that has really taken off and launched his name and work into 35 countries and onto the New York Times Bestseller list.

Scott was in Utah recently to promote book No. 2 in the series, "The Magician," which was released this summer (Delacorte Press, $16.99). It's a continuation of the tale of modern-day twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, who are suddenly thrown into a world of magic and mythological creatures while on a quest to save the planet.

The book is a fast-paced and compelling read and will likely engage both adults and children. Part of the draw is Scott's use of mythological creatures and historical figures as companions and foes to the Newman twins. You might find yourself reading nearby a computer to look online for references to characters such as the Nidhogg, which is a corpse-eating dragon from Norse mythology, or to find more information on Nicholas Flamel, a famous alchemist and Scott's protagonist.

In "The Magician," which is a continuation of Scott's first book, "The Alchemist," both Sophie and Josh find themselves in Paris on a hunt to find the book of Abraham the Mage, which contains the secret to eternal life and the power to destroy humankind. The book was stolen from Flamel by a man who wants to use it to bring an ancient Earth-dwelling clan back to power.

In the quest to recover the book, Sophie learns fire magic while Josh, who has yet to have his magical powers awakened, continues to harbor jealousy over his sister's abilities. There's a climactic scene where the Nidhogg chases the character Scathach, a legendary Scottish warrior, through the streets of Paris.

For Scott, researching and creating these books has been an extraordinary journey. The idea first came to him about 10 years ago, but it wasn't until late 2000, after discovering the ancient home of Nicholas Flamel in Paris, that he really discovered how he wanted to write the story and who his hero would be.

"I was beginning to work on the story and knew I had Sophie and Josh, which where my twins," Scott said. "I had begun to put together the pieces, but really, sitting in that room in Paris (where Nicholas Flamel would have sat and walked) and afterward in the hotel, that's where I wrote the premise."

It took him about eight years to research the series, which so far, has taken his characters to California and Paris. The third book takes Sophie and Josh to England, while Scott promises that Utah will "definitely maybe" figure into the storyline.

The twins' parents are on an archeological dig in the state.

"If I'm using any excuse to tour to Zion and Bryce Canyon, you know it's 'definitely,"' Scott said.

With each scene in his books, Scott traveled extensively to ensure the accuracy of his descriptions. His research also included looking into stories about each of the mythological characters he highlights.

For him, that research is part of the joy of his job. He's had a vast career outside of writing, including 25 years as a bookseller and also a stint as a television producer and a producer for "Riverdance." But as a writer, he's been able to travel the world and impact thousands of children and adults, particularly with this most recent series, which Scott said has "rewritten big chunks" of his future.

At present, he is focused on finishing the remaining four books in the "Nicholas Flamel" series and also doing research for his next few books. A movie version of "The Alchemist" is also planned for the near future.

Scott said he is hopeful his books will continue to be a success.

"Now what happens is the pressure," he said. "Book one was unexpected. There was no pressure. But then there were expectations for book two, so now, of course, because book two has gotten some extraordinary reviews, the pressure is really on for book three and four and five and six and whatever comes after that."


E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com

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