by Columbkill Noonan
When my students find out that I’ve written a book (“Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab”, which was just released on July 26), they ask, “Sooo, is it about Anatomy, then?” When I tell them, “Oh no, it’s about a Victorian detective who gets dragged off into the Egyptian afterlife”, they look at me a bit suspiciously, as if I might somehow be trying to ambush them with a lesson about science somehow, only they can’t quite figure out how.
I completely understand their confusion; I am, after all, the one who insists that they understand how the body works in sometimes agonizing detail; I’m the one who makes them study so much that more than a few have confessed to having dreams about this enzyme or that neurotransmitter. And now I’m telling them that I wrote a book filled with jackal-headed gods and mouse-people and a lovably nervous little detective who does things in a most decidedly unorganized sort of way.
In the biology world, after all, we deal in facts and well-supported theory; there is not a lot of creativity involved. As for fiction (particularly when one’s hero is running amok with a bunch of Egyptian gods), there’s a bit more leeway in, well, making things up. It is dichotomous, I know (ah, perhaps my biologist’s penchant for words that are bigger than they need to be does shine through, after all!) But the two worlds are not incompatible.
In grad school, you see, I learned to parse information quickly and efficiently. I can research a topic with my eyes closed and in my sleep (ok, not really, but research is something that I am comfortable with, and can do very fast). Indeed, I even enjoy it! This was of immense help whilst researching Egyptian mythology (the scientist in my simply would not allow me to inaccurately represent any god, no matter how minor!). Because of this, I was able to compile a rather extensive notebook of information on Egyptian mythology, organized by how important they were and by various personality traits. I had lists of “good” gods and “bad” gods; tricky ones and angry ones and crazy ones (and even a feminist one!)
From there it was easy to decide which gods would be helpful, and which would be the villains. The system worked so well for me (and Barnabas, of course!) that I used it again before starting on the sequel (Barnabas is all set to visit quite a few different mythologies, from all over the world).
Once I’d decided on the role each god would play, and sketched out their basic personalities based on the actual mythology, it was time for me to have fun. Mythology, after all, is not science; I may have an idea of what they’re like, but I am also free to have them react to things in any way I please. It was exhilarating!
Because, after all, when one has to be quite serious at work, it feels wonderful to sit down in front of the laptop relax and just relax and let one’s imagination fly wherever it will.
When she's not teaching or writing, she can usually be found riding her rescue horse, Mittens, practicing yoga (on the ground, in an aerial silk, on a SUP board, and sometimes even on Mittens), or spending far too much time at the local organic, vegan market.
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Columbkill's Newest Mystery: Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Fearing that he is not as clever as he had hoped to be, he is riddled with anxiety and plagued by a lack of confidence brought on in no small part by his failure to prevent the untimely deaths of several of his clients. Matters only get worse when Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, is referred to Barnabas by a former client (who perished in a terribly unfortunate incident which was almost certainly not Barnabas’ fault). Anubis sends for Barnabas (in a most uncivilized manner) and tells him that the scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun across the sky every day has been kidnapped, and perhaps dismembered entirely.
The land of the dead is in chaos, which will soon spill over into the land of the living if Barnabas (together with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) cannot set matters to right.
Pulled from his safe and predictable (if unremarkable) life in Marylebone, Barnabas must match his wits against the capricious and dangerous Egyptian gods in order to unravel the mystery of the missing beetle and thereby save the world.
Available Here: Amazon