In May 2019 first italian preview for the new novel by Philip Osbourne “Edward Loth – Najima: the Fantastic City“, published by Zona Franca Edizioni . “A modern fantasy: moving, funny and mythological” for young adults.
Philip Osbourne is one of the leading writer of pop culture in the international literary field.
He began writing for comic books while still in college and his works include “Jenna” (with Jim Fern, Joe Rubinstein and Paul Di Anno from Iron Maiden) and the critically acclaimed “Touch” (illustrated by David Mack and Wellinghton Dias). “Hollywood Noir” was illustrated by the celebrated Dick Giordano. Osbourne has written articles for cinema magazines such as Empire and worked with horror icon Brian Yuzna on lm projects. Now that he is a father, he is launching his new passion: a line of funny fascinating and always surprising youth books. His works have been published internationally in the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand. “Diary of a Nerd” is the last novel for kids and it has been published in Italy, France, Brazil, Poland, Russia, Greecia, Romania, Portugal, Serbia, Albania, China, etc… Among his successful books remember “Ellen’s Superadventures”, “Bomber” and “Young Poe” (which will soon become a TV series).
Now, his passion for pop writing led him to face with a new novel: an adventure aimed at a wider audience.
A young adult title for a fantasy spirit with all the elements to thrill science-fiction followers and lovers of legends and traditions, where past and future meet in a surreal, passionate and realistic present.
Thus was born “Edward Loth – Najima: the Fantastic City“, the adventure of a seemingly common boy who will soon discover his real nature: he is a demigod. And he is predestined to save the fortunes of a fantastic city, hidden in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, called Najima (which in Arabic means “Star“).
Our hero is a demigod with magical powers give off from Celtic and Arab cults and myths. And he lives together with the other characters of the novel in a contemporary society, confused, tied to profit and money.
The different characters embody various nature: they all rapresentative the atavistic struggle between The Good and The Evil. So through the many ordeal (difficult experience) and that color the adventure of Edward Loth, they will encounter those human feelings clouded by the daily vainglory: friendship, love, loyalty, honor, desire, struggle, but also dedication and inventiveness towards the conquest of a mirage that becomes a life purpose for everyone.
Also important is the theme of the conquest-discovery of power and the secret of life shield in the fantastic city: which keep togheter the past and the future, traditions, a super technological urbanity and, at the same time, eco-sustainable life. A modern Atlantis in which the legend of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table resumes. Najima, the fantastic city, thus appears to be the western version of Auroville (the utopian Indian city in which there is no money, politics or religion. Recognized heritage of humanity by UNESCO, is based on its community and is energetically self-sufficient.
And the hero Loth, the Celtic demigod today, represents our Lancelot in 2.0 version , which brings with it the very symbol of the city: a medallion that represents the connection to its origins, its family and history, and to his magical powers. But these are some of the elements that develop in the war that takes place in New York between the two rival gangs: the Assassins and the New Templar.
Cu’ Chulainn is well known in New York as Eric Malone, a seventeen years old boy who went to the limelight in the football team because of his sportive victories. Nobody knows that actually he is a semigod belonging to the Conchobar’s hidden court in Ulster in Ireland. But the demigod Cu’ Chulainn’s career is short as his opponents will kill him by their magic powers.
When he is found dead, he’s for everybody another umpteenth murder without “a name” in the town. Actually, Eric has been killed because of the wish of Medhbh queen from Connacht. She is well known in town with the modern name of Sissy Gladwell (a magnate’s daughter and famous girl in the glam and rich world of the metropolis), who sent an army to get hold of the Cualilnge’s crown. Cu’ Chulainn (Eric Malone) will fight alone against the adversaries army, and, in a fierce fight he will die.
This is the background that allows Edward Loth, a young student just arrived in the Big Apple
Loth is enlisted by Camelot, the new templars’ regent to take part in the confraternity of initiated warriors, a new “King Arthur’s Round Table”, and will have the task to replace Eric. The boy embraces the purity codes of his “resistance” group, but his ethical codes will get a hard testing when he falls in love with Courtney, Camelot’s girlfriend. Edward Loth will realize that he has magical powers that will allow him to remove all the world threatening supernatural powers and go on protecting King Conchobar’s court , but will he manage to stay “pure” as the confraternity’s codes impose and not surrender to Courtney’s love?
From here begins the authentic itinerary of Edward Loth that will lead him to the discovery of his true origins and a sense for his life.
And it’s not just about the classic hero’s travel, through unknown lands and unexplored feelings, but also one of those fantastic journeys on which, after all, each of us has fantasized at least once in our lives. A journey that accompanies the discovery of an ideal city in which the traditions and values of the past have been welcomed in a world that takes on the contours of a not so distant future.
From Europe to America, from America to Saudi Arabia across Russia (outpost-border land between East and West; between the east and west of the world but also between north and south): a travel starting from Italy between three continents, several important cities (New York, Rome, Vatican City, San Galgano- in Tuscany, Moscow, Jeddah, Rijadh) and combines different cultures, traditions and uses.
A journey in which love and friendship are the glue between the main interpreters of the adventure that manage to defeat each other’s antagonist. In which different cultures interact and complement each other in a fantastic city Najima … as if to indicate a new beginning for civilization.
An adventure of inner, personal and collective growth in search of a more authentic and conscious lifestyle. We talk about it with the author:
Philip the idea of the book began as
One of those ideas that can entertain, excite, that works on paper and on the screen. In short, one of those ideas that are generally not mine.
For a long time a name and the image of a mythological character has been buzzing in my head and also a story set in several countries and influenced by multiple cultures, with children, young people and adults, men, women and the elderly as protagonists. I feel the need to put in the same menu a thousand different dishes that generally do not coexist. Why? Because I lived a childhood on the road and with dozens of different people, because now I spend a lot of my time with people of different ages and disparate nationalities. So I write a subject about a guy who looks like the new Lancelot and I call him “Loth” and I think I put all these ideas into it.
What were the other suggestions you wanted to convey?
Philip Osbourne: I am strongly influenced by television pop culture. I wanted to put a bit of Gossip Girl and the new Dynasty in a novel, that instead had to recall the atmospheres of the 80s adventure to the Indian Jones. I wanted to tell with a modern touch the hatred and love that revolves around the boys and I have often mixed the cards. The structure is however “on the road”, although I wanted to give the impression that the protagonists were always at home, which for them always corresponds “at the wrong time in the wrong place”. Everyone in the novel is looking for something that is a few inches away from what they thought. And everyone always needs a piece that someone else owns. I liked the idea of the “missing piece” and I contaminated it with what I believe is a new aesthetic, very television, perhaps at times extremely simple, of the game “uplifting the rich”.
Each chapter is seen through the eyes of love and hatred of one of the characters, this is also very television. But I tend towards a contaminated narrative rather than a classic one and does not pay attention to the new way of using art.
From King Arthur and Lancelot to the new version of a modern hero who fights with supernatural powers: who is Edward Loth?
Philip Osbourne: One who would like to understand something more about himself and his family. He is a boy who wonders and has no fear of answers. He is not a simple boy and he even fights against his roots and inclinations. This is why his journey is a journey to something that is distant and at the same time close to his family. In his wandering there is his desire for understanding.
The hero protagonist of the story have more “souls”: he is a boy, shy, hesitant and at the same time courageous, selfless but also firm when he has to make choices… What are the values he embodies and that you want to convey with his character?
Philip Osbourne: He is a demigod, a bit like all of us at nineteen when we discover that we can get sick but we don’t believe that it can really happen to us. At nineteen we are all close to ideals, but also more dynamic and for this reason the first are ready to abandon them. Edward reflects the thousand contradictions of an intelligent boy in a world where everyone always hides something.
The “Good persons” and the bads. Which of the different characters do you prefer?
Philip Osbourne: As a writer I only love the bad guys and I find Sissy sexy, charming, perverse and smart. Bad person, but very disturbing. The bad guys make the stories interesting, the good guys only have the goal of reminding us that, after all, we should work better on our conscience. But in general I like the contradictory characters that tend towards evil more.
The legends and magical folk traditions that are intertwined are different. How many and why did you choose those?
Philip Osbourne: For quite some time I have been playing with classical culture with the intention of boning it and making it affordable for everyone, even those who have no patience to try to understand every nuance. I make “covers” of beautiful author’s songs and try to make them danceable for a good Saturday night. I don’t like writers who take themselves too seriously. I prefer to deconstruct, and then build with my little means, than to admire something that risks not belonging to our times anymore. From this point of view, I decided to play with Celtic mythology because it tells of courageous deeds but also of epic betrayals, and it seemed fun to think of Geneva on a train that makes love with a modern Lancelot without them knowing each other. I like to give some good reason to make me hate those who love classical culture.
The sun and the moon. The brightness and the darkness. The adventure also develops along the game of these different lights: two complementary natural elements. What do they indicate?
Philip Osbourne: They outline moods and tell the physical and psychological evolutions of the characters. In my narrative game – in some cases – it becomes difficult to understand when the darkness is real … this happens to Klaus who lives hidden from the world a few blocks from Manhattan. In total darkness a few steps away from the thousand lights of New York.
The idea of the roots that emerges indicates, gradually, a sense of belonging that is ever wider: to a family, a group, a culture and a community. A sort of natural religion that then identifies with the social development of every individual, but that seems to indicate in the end a “return” to principles of hidden social conviviality, and that we can only imagine in a fantastic city. The city represents a propulsive center. Past and future meet in Najima. What does this city represent?
Philip Osbourne: For me, Najima represents a “free den all”. When I played hide-and-seek as a boy, I couldn’t wait to touch that wall and exonerate all those who had been caught. Here Najima for me, in the novel, is a corner of paradise conquered and not given. When I was told of this royal city that is being born in Rijad I let myself be swept away by the imagination. I was told that different nationalities will live in it through an architecture that takes into account their every being … this led me to try to make this fantastic city mine.
Does the ending herald the possibility of a sequel?
Philip Osbourne: Obviously, because my fun is to find the characters and move them to a different plane to understand more of them. Then I love stories that have a real ending, but not so closed. They must allow going ahead. A story is credible if the reader senses that there is much more, otherwise he becomes aware of the staging. The deceit that you perpetrate is that of making to understand that I know very little … and what I have told is only what has arrived me, because, who knows, that in the end other information does not come out and overturn everything.
You have imagined Edward Loth and the fantastic city as if in a film plot. Which movies did you take inspiration from?
Philip Osbourne: No film in particular, but I had images of Gattaca in my mind, others of far more childish works like Gossip Girl. But when I wrote I was also invaded by sequences of “The Fisher King”. I (shred) mushup and put together different worlds… because in the setting up (assembly) I find myself creative.
Why to read Edward Loth?
Philip Osbourne: Because at the bottom of the glass there is good wine. But to taste it (savor it), you have to go down and look for… Then a trip is always something to try and mine is one of those where anything can happen, except to remember to be (normal) ordinary people. Because we are all a little demigods.