Thursday, April 2, 2015

Author Lucy Branch Interview – A Rarer Gift Than Gold

Today's interview is with debut author Lucy Branch. They say write what you know and in her other profession Lucy is a sculptural restorationist, now that's not exactly turning metal into gold, but.... well read on!

  • ISBN-13: 9781909477551
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/20/2015
  • Pages: 270


Abigail Argent stands out. Some people notice that she always wears gloves and shudder when they know why. The ones who know her best notice her ability with metal.
Abigail's particular talent lies in the colouring of alloys, for seeing the beauty in a plain piece of metal and being able to draw it out.
Her study leads her to discover a connection between her own craft and that of her favourite childhood myth: changing lead into gold.
Moving to Venice, Abigail continues to uncover more about the history of her trade while making friends, and a lover, whose lives become inextricably linked with her own. But her abilities soon peak the interests of a powerful group, determined to guard the secret that she may unwittingly expose.
Delving into the deepest secrets of ancient Italy, Abigail's story will take everything you think you know about alchemy and turn it on its head.
From the publisher:
A Rarer Gift Than Gold is an accomplished first novel, rooted in an authenticity derived from author Lucy Branch’s professional insight. An acclaimed specialist in sculptural and architectural restoration, working on high-profile projects including Nelson’s Column, Cleopatras Needle, Eros, St Paul's Cathedral, The British Library and Selfridges, Branch brings the mythology of alchemy vividly to life. Abigail’s story is played out against a carefully observed background of Italian culture and architecture, drawing romance and mystery into her passage through the streets of Florence. Branch was inspired by an incident in which she and a close friend were ominously warned off the materials they were studying by a stranger during a research trip to Italy to explore the works of Galileo. A Rarer Gift Than Gold will captivate fans of Kate Mosse’s Languedoc Trilogy and is set to fascinate, enlighten and leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Lucy Hi Welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Tell us a little about your new novel, A Rarer Gift Than Gold.
Hi Reading Frenzy. My novel is about an incredibly skilled patineur called Abigail. A patineur is someone who colours metal. She discovers a link between our own craft and that of the classic myth of alchemy, but inadvertently she trespassers onto the territory of a very powerful group who have been protecting the real history of alchemy for hundreds of years.  It's magical realism, conspiracy theory and thriller all wrapped up in one. 

Lucy you work in sculptural restoration.
Tell us about your day job.
I work on large-scale monuments and sculpture in-situ. Much of my work is about helping to preserve these objects by battling the environment they live in. The other aspect is restoring the damage that has taken place when the surface of the sculpture begins to look disfigured or has been damaged intentionally. I work on older traditional monuments and war memorials, but I also get to work on contemporary sculpture which has a completely unique set of problems. 

I can see sort of a parallel to the novel with your job.
Where did the idea to write the novel come?
It's true that my work and that of Abigail's does overlap but it's not the same. I focused on one aspect of my work for the novel because its not hard to understand how it could tie-in with alchemy. I really wanted to write about metals, which are my specialism. When you work with a particular material, day in and day out -you begin to understand its unique character in a similar way that you do with another person or an animal. Apart from the great Primo Levi - I hadn't read anything which illustrated the specialness of metals  - this was my foundation for the novel. The particular direction the story takes was actually inspired by a real incident when a friend of mine, who was researching something quite dry and academic, was warned to keep away from the material he was reading. It made me wonder about what kind of people might want to protect a myth or historic information and why. 

Where did your love of writing come from?
I've been writing my daydreams down since I was in my early teens. I have dozens of notebooks with all sorts of stories in them. I used to write quite a lot in school - particularly geography, I recall. No wonder I never did very well in that subject. I think my love of writing really grew out of a love of living in my imagination. It's my favourite place to be and writing gives me an excuse to go there officially. 

What authors do you like to read?
I'm a book addict. I read and re-read. My tastes are broad: I love Tolkien, Austen and children’s authors like Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Noel Streatfeild but I also like Cassandra Clare, Charlaine Harris, Deborah Harkness. I adore Kate Morton and think the world of Jilly Cooper and couldn’t live without Dick Francis. 

Are you working on another novel?
I'm working on the second of the trilogy. A Rarer Gift is only book one. I have the plot sketched out fairly clearly but I need to knuckle down and crack on with the first draft.  

Lucy thank you for answering my questions, good luck with the novel!

Lucy Branch is a director of her family’s firm Antiques Bronze Ltd, one of the UK’s leading 
conservation and restoration companies. She has a degree in History of Art with Material Studies and a Masters from The Royal College of Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Branch is an accredited member of the Institute of Conservation. Lucy lives with her husband and their three children in North London. The first in the The Gold Gift
trilogy, A Rarer Gift Than Gold by Lucy Branch (published by Clink Street Publishing RRP $9.99 paperback, RRP $2.99 ebook) is available to buy online from March 20th from retailers including and can be ordered from all good bookstores. For more information, please visit

Today's Gonereading item is:
The Listography journal
Click HERE for the buy page


  1. This sounds completely intriguing and I love the fantasy element to it of being able to draw out alloys and the whole metal into gold vibe it has!
    Wonderful review Debbie! The cover kind of draws you in with the crown on the key and the splatters of blood.

  2. Oh, wow. Wonderful interview and book!!

  3. You always find interesting reads, and totally different. I'm always sure to learn something from your interviews. I had no idea what a patineur was, and now I have to learn how to pronounce it :) Interesting!
    Another insightful and fun interview, thank you Debbie!

  4. Oh yay! I love Harris too :) And wow that sounds like a very neat story. I'd never heard of a patineur. Thanks for the intro Debbie!