Kevin Hearne: Five Things I Learned Writing Ink & Sigil

Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an amazing white moustache, a gratitude for craft cocktails– and a most unique magical skill. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he utilizes his gifts to safeguard our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

Anyone who hears his voice will start to feel a mysterious hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the composed word or speech apps. As his personal life collapses around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while attempting to break the secret of his curse.

However when his newest apprentice, Gordie, shows up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is required to play detective– while avoiding actual detectives who are questioning why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentices death will take him through Scotlands magical underworld, and hell require the aid of a mischievous hobgoblin if hes to survive.

Glasgow is an amazing city

Edinburgh and the Highlands get a great deal of attention when folks think about going to Scotland– and for great factor– however Glasgow has layers, like onions and trolls and parfaits. Its the third-largest city in the UK behind London and Birmingham, however much more economical. It has universities, plural; a 37-acre Necropolis filled with spooky Victorian-era gravesites and mausoleums for all the goth vibes you require; multiple football teams to cheer (and battle) for; an eldritch organ in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & & Museum; master distillers of whisky and gin that are the envy of the world; and it utilized to be that all the New Worlds tobacco was delivered to Glasgow first and from there to the remainder of the European continent. That was a great deal of money and cancer. It was quite the commercial hub in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the shipbuilding industry was big for a long time, but when it collapsed a couple of decades back, the city population generally halved from 1.2 million to 600k– part of what makes real estate more sensible there. Now theres a great deal of financing and tech things occurring in Glasgow, and the city has this wonderful richness of varied architecture and community owing to its long history existing together alongside contemporary structures. Essentially its a wonderful city in which to set a city fantasy, because basically anything can take place there.

There are countless recipes for ink and lots of them are flammable

I discovered a lot about the history of inkmaking from Ink by Ted Bishop, which I highly suggest as a good start, and it has a comprehensive bibliography for additional reading. The prevalent use of bugs (like cochineal) and squishy ocean animals for pigments was particularly unexpected to me. (If youve ever consumed food thats used or red lipstick, youve most likely been consuming or smearing uponst thy lips the colorful guts of bugs who like prickly pear cacti.) A small fraction of the research study I did wound up being utilized in the book; it was a gigantic lovely rabbit hole that runs as deep background for everything Al does, and a few of it that I didnt use for the first book will likely find a place later on in the series.

Unexpected fires and residential or commercial property damage were so common in the old days that inkmakers had to do their thing outside city walls on a calm day in case shit spoiled. The primary culprit behind the commotion was boiling linseed oil, which smells actually awful, produces harmful vapors, and can explode at any time. Without heating the oil sufficiently in advance, the ink would dry too gradually, take in oxygen, and polymerize like rubber. The commercial procedure now is much safer, however doing it the old-fashioned method is flirting with spontaneously flammable doom.

Public transportation is pretty rad

Ive lived in places without a good public transport system most all my life, so whenever Im in a city that has it, Im quickly impressed. Glasgow has a little train that circles around the city core, however also has a rail and bus system that allows individuals to get around pretty well without a car– which is what we did as travelers. Many remarkably, routine routes get you out of the city to charming wee villages that normally offer an old stone church, a pub, great deals of sheep, and a claim that either William Wallace or Rob Roy MacGregor had existed once, which is probably true considering that its not a gigantic nation and those guys navigated. The relative ease of navigating both rural and city areas without owning a lorry showed me that my lead character didnt require a car. Cabs and hitchhiking would get the slack whenever public transportation and a stretch of the legs could not handle the journey.

Haggis is freaking scrumptious

It gets depicted as this stuff you just eat on an attempt, and yeah, I admit I recoiled the very first time I tried it because it had actually been built up in my head as A Gross Thing You Will Only Try Once, however damn, I liked it. A lot.

Now, as a counterpoint: I am not a fan of black pudding, due to the fact that I tried that too and it did unkind things to my taste buds. Super pleased for everyone who likes it! Dang, I actually need to discover some where Im at now.

The accents are pure fantastic

The Glaswegian (or Weegie) accent is its own thing, but fifty miles away in Edinburgh you get a completely various sound. Because the Weegie accent and dialect is distinct from other locations of Scotland, I needed an expert reader from Glasgow to take a look at the manuscript ahead of time and make corrections. I was informed that word might get used in the country here and there, but was not truly a thing that Weegies state.

I didnt try to reproduce everything you hear– that would be a huge task– however I did choose a couple of words and expressions to regularly render the way a Weegie might state them to supply the taste of the language while (ideally) keeping it easy to check out. Naturally, you can listen to the audiobook narrated by Luke Daniels and appreciate the accents that way.


Kevin Hearne hugs trees, family pets doggies, and rocks out to heavy metal. He also thinks tacos are a quite cool concept. He is the author of A Plague of Giants and the New York Times bestselling The Iron Druid Chronicles series.

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Glasgow has a small subway that circles around the city core, however likewise has a rail and bus system that enables people to get around quite well without a cars and truck– which is what we did as travelers. A lot of remarkably, routine paths get you out of the city to captivating wee towns that normally provide an old stone church, a club, lots of sheep, and a claim that either William Wallace or Rob Roy MacGregor had actually been there when, which is probably true given that its not a massive nation and those men got around.

Now theres a lot of financing and tech stuff happening in Glasgow, and the city has this wonderful richness of different architecture and neighborhood owing to its long history existing together alongside modern-day buildings. A tiny fraction of the research I did wound up being utilized in the book; it was an enormous beautiful bunny hole that operates as deep background for whatever Al does, and some of it that I didnt utilize for the very first book will likely discover a place later on in the series.

He can cast spells with amazingly captivated ink and he uses his gifts to safeguard our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

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