My guest on the blog today is author Olivette Devaux, who is talking about her Disorderly Elements series and the latest addition, Like a Torrent. I loved Ash and Cooper in Like a Rock, so I was very excited when I found there was a sequel. It has all the hallmarks of the first book: loveable characters, great family and unexpected happenings. And here is Olivette Devaux, explaining how she came up with the stories. (And don’t you love that gif of the cover?)
ROCKHEAD – the inspiration behind the Disorderly Elements series
Hi, Olivette Devaux here! I’d like to thank Jackie Keswick for inviting me to share a bit about the Disorderly Elements series, which now consist of 2 published books (Like a Rock, and Like a Torrent) and two books in progress (Like a Flash, and Like a Phoenix), plus Book 5, which doesn’t have a name yet, even though I know what will happen in it. The creation of these books is a fun diversion for me, because they combine my two great passions: Czech folklore, and geology.
Like many, I have several “prior lives.” As a youngster, I had been deeply fascinated by the mythological creatures indigenous to my native Czech culture, and by the stories that used to scare me so much. I will talk about those in detail another day – but for now, let’s just say that they harken back to the pre-Christian era of Celtic animism, where the rivers, the mountains, and the fire itself had a spirit which could assume human form.
I used to be scared of the water spirit, because I had feared that it lived in the toilet. I had refused to flush as a child because I didn’t want to “disturb” him. But I digress.
My characters are the descendant of European elementalists, and bear a strong connection to the Earth and the natural forces around us, as well as to the geological processes which shape our world. Perhaps it was this childhood fear and fascination which had compelled me to major in geoscience at the “uni” so many years ago. As I write Cooper and have him experience the Earth as his element, I feel closer and closer to that primal love for the world which we inhabit. This love fills me with nostalgia for paths not taken, because the jobs available at the time led me into the laboratory and material science instead of “the field” of hands-on geoscience.
Now, almost thirty years later, when the children are grown, I feel as though I have one more chance to get out there and make some difference in the world. As I am currently studying toward my Certified Geologist accreditation and the required ASBOG exam, I am catching up on three decades of exciting, riveting research and discovery. Whereas we were only learning to use the primitive, departmental intranet to print out our assignments on one, shared terminal connected to a dot matrix printer in college, the computing technology of our present, interconnected age had made it possible to see through the Earth the way Cooper can easily detect subterranean structures.
Aside from the obvious GPS and satellite imagery boon, LiDAR technology uses lasers to see what’s under the trees, and provide a topographic map to an amazing level of detail. Ground-penetrating radar identifies differences between adjoining rock and soil types, buried human structures, tunnels, and caves. Gravity anomaly mapping will show underground tunnels and caverns. Magnetic anomaly mapping will show mineral deposits, rails in old mines, and buried barrels of toxic waste. Whereas I used to develop my own black-and-white photographs of stratigraphic units in road cuts, now we take instant, digital photos for granted. What used to be within the realm of science fiction now presents valuable information at our fingertips.
I want to follow in the footsteps of Ash, my water-whisperer character, and help clean what has been contaminated. Unlike three decades ago, there are now jobs in environmental consulting, where my skills will be welcome even without a PhD. With the prevalence of heavy salt use on our highways, and with fracking (extraction of gas and oil from shale using high pressure and high temperature corrosive liquids), streams and wells are being contaminated, and companies must be held accountable.
There is work to be done.
I love writing, and I love bringing the world of Disorderly Elements to your fingertips so you can share the team’s adventures with me. There is a disorder in our real-life elements too, however, and I feel a call to leave my keyboard and spend at least some of my time setting the natural balance of things to rights. There is no doubt in my mind that getting my hands dirty will inspire me to write yet-unthought-of books for years to come.
For now, while I refresh the principles of Darcy’s Law and ponder concepts such as aquifer capacity and rock porosity, I invite you to enter the world of Disorderly Elements, where a team of rogue elementalists use their still-developing skills to right a wrong, and to find love while they do so.