Saturday, July 9, 2011

A DIFFERENT KIND OF MAGIC - guest post by author Eden Unger Bowditch

Eden is the author behind the recently published novel The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Men in Black(check out my review here). She is here today to tell us about how her book came to be and also a to tell us a bit about Egypt where Eden currently lives with her family.

I can say with all honesty, there were people who thought the Young Inventors Guild was just too weird to get published. There are no magic wands or flying broomsticks- not that I don’t love a well-placed wand and a good spell. But everyone warned that magic wands were in and everything else wasn’t. Well, The Young Inventors Guild forced my hand, so to speak. It was a story that grew and grew in my head and out came The Atomic Weight of Secrets… before I could stop it. I didn’t believe that a story could really grow to such proportions inside my brain. I remember hearing J K Rowling say that Harry Potter came out fully formed and the whole story was right there. It seemed unreal. Impossible. Until it happened to me, ladies and gentlemen.

It was like dropping colour into water- the idea, like the colour, soon permeated everything and the whole picture became clear. Each character bloomed into someone I have come to know and love (or fear, or both!) and the history behind it stretched far into the past… As I began to write, everything and everyone sort of took their places naturally. And once characters are formed, they will not allow themselves to be bullied into doing things that are not in their nature. Their voices come out and writing their story is almost like reporting on something observed. Filling in the details- no small task- is where the final picture takes form. I spent hours in the library and hours looking up everything to be clear on times and places of things. Historic work requires lots of research to be sure that the facts within the fiction are accurate. The Young Inventors Guild has so many parts that I have, with my editor’s help, laid out a timeline and (gulp) I put down the map of the whole story within the trilogy. This was hard to actually put to paper because then it was vulnerable and out there in the world. But it was really good to do and helped with connecting everything together.

And, to me, the story is full of magic. A different kind of magic. The magic we can do and feel and see all around us in this amazing world. It broke my heart that people thought kids wouldn’t be interested in invention. Really! So far, we are proving them wrong. Underestimating the power of creativity and the inspiration of inventiveness is just plain foolish. Kids are brilliant. And if we can all harness the spark of ingenuity that we all had as kids, we’d never be too tired to do something amazing.

I have always been fascinated with creating something from bits of other things. I love figuring out how things work and making them work differently. We are big on science projects and experiments in our house. It’s like finding pieces to a puzzle that you invent along the way.

Eden riding on a camel.
Living in Egypt has been such an incredible experience for all of us. Let’s be honest- we live in one of the most ancient places in the world, a place that is at the heart of invention and history. Did you know that toothpaste was invented here? And let’s not forget the pyramids. Egyptians still have that spark of invention or, more often, reinvention. In the US, something like 30% of what is recycled into bins is actually recycled. In Cairo, for example, 85-95% of everything that gets thrown away is recycled. We can separate glass and paper, but it all goes to Garbage City. There are people who live in Garbage City that have, for generations, recycled different things. There are families who recycle glass. Families who recycle plastic or paper. They often use these materials to make things they sell. But in everyday life you can see how ingenious people are as a culture. They say need is the mother of invention. Well, it is also the mother of recycling. The two go hand in hand here. People don’t buy a new broom handle, they will make one, hand cut threads in a stick, and make a new broom. Or they’ll invent some contraption or find some bits and pieces to use as a watering system or a bicycle or a wall. Things do not go to waste when there isn’t decadence to allow newly purchased replacement for anything used.

Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Eden! It was so nice of you to stop by here at Escape In A Book.


  1. Great post :) and I like weird, oh weird is the bes

  2. Thank you so much for sharing today. I love Egypt and hope someday to retire there :) This book sounds wonderfully different.

  3. I like this post. I really want to go to Egypte one day! So much history there!

  4. Sorry for the extensive delay in responding! Back in Egypt after some book touring, here and abroad. Hope Denise Z got a chance to read the book. And YES, even after the revolution- in some ways especially, Egypt is a wonderful to place to visit. It is still safer than anywhere in America, though definitely different than before. Put it on your list of places you must go!


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