With Halloween soon upon us, readers are grabbing bewitching stories that feel perfect for the season. A Golden Fury should be one of them. Set right as France begins their revolution, this standalone follows Thea as she travels from Normandy to Oxford to London determined to create the Philosopher’s Stone – and keep it out of the hands of those set out to use it in a looming war felt throughout Europe.
This young adult book is not only filled with combining properties and curses, it is also filled with sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. I was excited to ask author Samantha Cohoe questions about her debut book and dive deeper into this historical fantasy.
The Young Folks (TYF): In your own words, can you please explain what A Golden Fury is about?
Samantha Cohoe (SC): A GOLDEN FURY is about a young alchemist on the verge of a world-changing discovery who discovers the cost may be her own mind. It’s a story about family and betrayal and the cost of ambition.
TYF: Where did the idea for this story come from? What was it influenced by?
SC: Alchemy was the inspiration! When you read a lot of history of philosophy or theology or science, alchemy is this intriguing side story that comes up in unexpected places. All these brilliant scholars really thought that if they thought and worked hard enough, they could figure out how to live forever and transmute all metals into gold. I love the wild ambition of it. And I love a story with a wild ambition.
TYF: What was it like to create a magic system based on alchemy?
SC: Pretty easy, actually! All I had to do was research historical alchemy and then imagine it all worked! I threw a couple twists in there, too, but those would be spoilers.
TYF: The focus on gender equality and feminism from page one on is such a great force. Why did you decide to bring this theme into the story?
SC: I think it’s hard not to bring those themes into a historical setting when you’re a woman writing in modern times. Honestly my struggle was more to tone it down, so it didn’t feel anachronistic! But I do think it’s impossible to write a woman pursuing a scientific (ish) goal in the 1700s without running into the questions of what was expected of women and allowed to them at that time. A big part of Thea’s journey was inevitably going to involve dealing with those limits and expectations. Even writing an ambitious woman character in a contemporary setting will tend to bring up these themes!
TYF: Why did you decide to start the book in 1792 France and then head to England? Also, what led you to bring in so many different characters from different warring European countries (England, France, Prussia/Germany, Italy) together?
SC: I always like a main character who is an outsider, so I made Thea an outsider in the country where she grew up, which then made her an outsider in the country she is from when she goes back to it. I also liked the backdrop of the French Revolution because of the effects it has on all of Europe, not just France. I was also interested in the different ways that European countries treated alchemy and alchemists, so bringing together an international cast was one way to highlight that.
TYF: Lastly, what should readers look forward to next?
SC: My next book, BRIGHT RUINED THINGS, comes out Fall 2021 from Wednesday Books. It’s a 1920s retelling of THE TEMPEST, set during the Prosper family’s annual bash, when their teenaged ward Mae realizes this powerful family is not what they seem, and seizes her chance to take the magic that has always been denied to her.
About the Author
Samantha Cohoe was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She attended Thomas Aquinas College, a Great Books college in California, and graduated with a BA in liberal arts. After studying Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School, she decided academia wasn’t for her.
In the midst of marriage, child-bearing, and the identity crisis that followed, she rediscovered her early love of writing and adverbs. In 2011, she moved with her family to Denver, where she currently divides her time between teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs.