Just as I did lots of research for A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON, I also used some other things for inspiration. If you know me, you know I LOVE movies. I have an extensive DVD collection, as well a Netflix and Amazon Prime memberships. Any good storytelling, and I’m there.
When I was writing the book, I knew I wanted Ben to be an inventor. I threw in his working at the theater, well, because of family history reasons. Combining the theater, and the ‘real’ magic in the book, with the ‘invented’ magic of illusion as counterpoint was just my own genius working. Plus, illusion was a huge thing during the time period, so it all fit together, like kismet.
There were two movies that I ADORE that explore the magic of illusion in the 19th century — THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PRESTIGE. The have similar topics, but are very different films. THE PRESTIGE is more about a war between two illusionists and how their lives revolve around beating the other with greater and greater tricks.
THE ILLUSIONIST is a love story. It stars Ed Norton and Jessica Biel, among others, and takes place in late 19th century Austria. There’s a whole political subplot, but really the story is about Jessica Biel’s character, a Countess, and Ed Norton’s character, a working class guy. They meet as children and then lose track of each other…sound familiar? That’s about as far as this movie and A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON parallel each other. Except for the machines Eisenheim (Norton) makes for his show. Some might recognize the Orange Tree illusion in CURSE from this movie. Except that the movie got it from a real life illusionist, Jean Robert-Houdin (yes, that is where Houdini got his stage name from).
I used the orange tree rig and kind of modeled Ben after Eisenheim a bit. I watched the movie (I have it on DVD, of course) probably a dozen times for inspiration when I was writing CURSE. It a great film and if you like period love stories with really clever plots and interesting machines, I highly recommend it.
Now you know a little more about the story behind the story.
Have a great day, Lovelies!