Alexandra Mackenzie takes it to the extreme in Eternal Love: Immortal Quest

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Book cover of Immortal Questbook review

We’ve all had friends whose problematic love affairs just seem to go on forever. In Immortal Quest, however, author Alexandra Mackenzie takes it to the extreme. Postulating a secretive cabal of immortal sorcerers in England exercising great power behind the scenes–sort of like a magical Bilderberg Group–Mackenzie raises the problem of what happens when one of them falls in love with a mortal, one whose spirit is reborn lifetime after lifetime and must be found again by his immortal lover in each new life.

Marlen and Nick, the two lovers, face much bigger problems than finding each other, however, including a quest and an epic battle with an evil mage. Immortal Quest is great fun and a can’t-put-down read. We asked the author some questions about the creation of this interesting world and the practical problems that had to be worked out.

In “Immortal Quest,” your characters live essentially, forever–or at least for centuries. What do you think are the most important practical problems that would create: bank accounts, real estate ownership, nosy neighbors, etc., and how do they deal with them?

Alexandra Mackenzie: The immortal mages have made a practice of allying themselves to people in power – kings, lords, and in later centuries wealthy businessmen. While the mage code prohibits them from revealing their secrets to these humans, they are able to use their powers to “advise” the powerful and keep them powerful, and make it worthwhile for the powerful to offer them protection. The mages have amassed great wealth over the years from being the favorites of rich humans, and/or, as in one of my main characters–Marlen’s–case, speculating on antiques and art over the centuries, and if they run into difficulties, they simply bribe a human to make the difficulty go away.

Something that’s much more likely to land them in trouble is having a close friendship or romance with a mortal — this is what gets Marlen into hot water. The mages have a longstanding policy of not getting involved with mortals but some mages just can’t help being attracted to a mortal now and then. They can try revealing their secret and swearing the mortal to secrecy, and I’m sure this happens from time to time.

“Magic” is a word that means many things to different people. Arthur C. Clark once said “any reasonably advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Some would say magic is supernatural and others that it is a part of the natural world that we do not fully comprehend. What are your views about the nature of magic?

I’ve had some odd experiences in my life that I’ve not been able to explain via science or logic, including dozens of clairvoyant experiences and one encounter with a ghost. I’m of the belief that there are aspects of the natural world which we don’t understand yet. For me, there is no such thing as “supernatural” or “unnatural”–everything is part of nature. The universe is vast, and for humans to comprehend all of its workings is akin to a flea comprehending how a human brain functions. So in my fantasy fictional worlds, the magic is simply that part of nature which most humans haven’t figured out yet.

St. Michael’s Mount, an island just off the coast of Cornwall, is the scene of some of the novel’s most intense action. In real life, it has been the home of the Aubyn Family (now Barons St. Levan) since the 17th century and is presently occupied by James Aubyn, Baron St. Levan, and his family. What made you select this location? The real family that lives there isn’t mentioned in the book nor is there a fictional stand-in for them, so what brought you to that decision?

I used it mainly because I’ve been there, and loved the setting. I nearly got trapped in the middle of the causeway as the tide came in! I did mention Vere using her powers to send away the folks who live in the small harbor village, but didn’t put in that she also would have done the same with the Aubyns. And of course, in a novel, you get to make a choice when using real settings–you get to decide how closely you want to stick to reality and how much you want to shape it a little to suit the story’s needs. If you just stick to the facts, you may as well be writing nonfiction. I actually played fast and loose a lot more with Dunvegan Castle, which is the only location in the novel that I’ve never visited, though I have been to other areas of Scotland.

In the book, a legend is recounted that the mages descend from an ancient union of a human and one of the fairy folk. Anthropologists usually contend that legends always have some sort of basis in fact. What are your own views regarding fairies? Could there be substance to the many legends?

Fairy lore fascinates me. I’ve read the classic Evans-Wentz study The Fairy Faith in the Celtic Countries, and all of Katharine Briggs’ excellent books, and I’ve looked at similar folklore from other countries. The similarities among tales worldwide is striking. Some of the lore certainly has practical explanations. The Changeling stories, for example, are often viewed as a way for people to explain children who had misunderstood diseases or conditions and who didn’t develop normally. But there are plenty of tales that aren’t so easily dealt with, including the worldwide “trickster” characters, or the similar versions of the “Robin Goodfellow” types, or the countless claims of eyewitnesses to the trooping of the fairies or fairy-ring dances. I’m not sure what to believe, but I’m open to the possibility of other planes or dimensions intersecting with our own from time to time or in certain places.

Nick and Marlen, the book’s lead characters, have a relationship that spans 500 years. Do you think it possible in reality for two people to remain in love that long?

Well….truth to tell, it’s a bit of a stretch. But one thing that helps, I think, with their particular relationship is that they have big gaps throughout–when Nick doesn’t remember Marlen, and Marlen leaves him alone during that specific lifetime. That can often be 50, 60 years or more. But yes, I do believe in the idea of “soul mates.” It happens.

For most of that time, Nick was not an immortal and had to be relocated by Marlen in each of his successive lifetimes. Often Nick was found by chance. Does this reflect a belief on your part that our souls–our essential natures–are reborn and often reconnect with the souls of those we love in successive lifetimes?

Actually, I don’t believe in reincarnation, which may sound odd considering the huge part it plays in the novel. Let me modify that: I don’t believe in the kind of reincarnation as described in certain religions wherein the soul has no memory of its former life. A key aspect of my variation on reincarnation is memory; without memories, how can the person be the same person? To what extent do one’s memories form one’s personality, and/or one’s soul? There is certainly some kernel of personality or soul that continues throughout all of Nick’s incarnations whether he has his old memories or not, yet he’s not “whole” enough to be what I’d consider the true Nick, the one who does connect to Marlen. He needs those memories to reconnect.

That being said, I do believe in at least some form of survival after bodily death, where I think souls of loved ones can reconnect – they just won’t be coming back to a bodily form in the physical world we know.

Finally, can we expect more adventures about Nick and Marlen?

Is my publisher reading this? I’m not sure at this point, though I have written about a third of a sequel. Oddly enough, given one of your earlier questions, the working title is Immortal Choice: The Trouble with Fairies. The legendary fairies who were mentioned in passing in the novel turn out to be not so legendary after all, and the usual hijinks ensue.

 

Eternal Love: Immortal Quest

ISBN 978-1-894063-46-3

Published by ,EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing www.edgewebsite.com

 

Book cover of Immortal Questbook review

We’ve all had friends whose problematic love affairs just seem to go on forever. In Immortal Quest, however, author Alexandra Mackenzie takes it to the extreme. Postulating a secretive cabal of immortal sorcerers in England exercising great power behind the scenes–sort of like a magical Bilderberg Group–Mackenzie raises the problem of what happens when one of them falls in love with a mortal, one whose spirit is reborn lifetime after lifetime and must be found again by his immortal lover in each new life.