content by

Kate Milford

Weird Connections: Six Degrees of Separation with Fireworks, Candy, and Corpses

Today, for your amusement, a magic trick: I will take fireworks and turn them into candies, thus proving that the times I nerd-sniped myself while researching and lost days following random trails through oddball books was actual research, thank you very much, and not procrastination. (Also I did get three different books out of this insanity. Obligatory mention: one of them, The Left-Handed Fate, comes out this August. Now, back to the magic.)

So: Fireworks into candies. Here we go.

I began to study fireworks for my second book, The Broken Lands, looking explicitly for links between it and alchemy. Those links weren’t hard to find—I was studying Chinese alchemy, the history of modern fireworks leads directly to China, and the timelines of these two types of chemical praxis overlap by at least a hundred and fifty years, so it isn’t shocking that there would be some overlap between formularies and techniques. The connections continue in the west: fireworks came into their own in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, a time when practical chemistry had deep ties to alchemy. Pyrotechnicians often used the language of alchemy and spoke of their work and the effects they created animistically, in terms of life and generation and essence; ambitious artificers forced fire to interact with other elements in their displays.

[Behold! The Power of Research]

The Left-Handed Fate

Return to Nagspeake with a new fantasy adventure from Kate Milford! The Left-Handed Fate publishes August 23rd from Henry Holt & Co.

Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine they believe can stop the endless war raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. During the search, however, their ship, the famous privateer the Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans, who have just declared war on England, too. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) is put under the command of new midshipman Oliver Dexter…who’s only just turned twelve.

But Lucy and Max aren’t the only ones trying to assemble the engine; the French are after it, as well as the crew of a mysterious vessel that seems able to appear out of thin air. When Oliver discovers what his prisoners are really up to—and how dangerous the device could be if it falls into the wrong hands—he is faced with a choice: Help Lucy and Max even if it makes him a traitor to his own country? Or follow orders and risk endangering countless lives, including those of the enemies who have somehow become his friends?

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