Hi, Louisa, Thank you for joining us – please tell us about your new book New Witch on the Block. I had it on pre-order so I got it on launch day and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s available online or as a paperback.
Thanks so much for having me, Sonia! I’m so excited to share New Witch on the Block (or NWOTB for short!) with your readers. This is my debut novel and is all about a woman who takes a leap of faith in herself and saves her young daughter and herself from an abusive relationship. Starting over in a small town has its own challenges (nosy townsfolk, anyone?), but she sets her mind to making a new home there. When she meets a somewhat mysterious, hulking Irishman he helps her to discover things about herself and her past – not the least of which is that she’s actually an honest-to-goodness witch!
She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.
Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.
A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch-King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.
And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…
She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.
Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.
And it’s going to be a series with the next one, Jealousy’s a Witch, due out in September .It is up for pre-order now.
You can bet that I have my copy already pre-ordered!
First some quick-fire questions.
Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings!
What’s for breakfast? Avocado on toast.
Night out or Netflix? Netflix – currently watching The Stranger.
G&T orTea/Coffee? Coffee all the way.
Perfect weekend? Spending time with my family, probably baking.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer, or forensic psychologist. Studied both law and psychology – ended up working in public relations before transitioning to writing full time.
What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating? Tonight we’re going out for dinner (not sure where – it’s date night!), but last night we had chicken fettucini – one of my specialities. I love cooking and baking, and do it whenever possible. I would always rather be eating chocolate!
What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. My daughter (who is ten). She’s just such a joy to be around and is always showing an inherent curiosity about the world around her. When I need smooches I go to my Great Dane. When I need cuddles, it’s my partner! Otherwise, I’m apt to pop on a period drama and soak myself in historical romanticism until I’m feeling back to my old self again.
Your hero? Jane Austen! Her wit, vivacity, and bravery in following her own path in life is a perfect model for any young woman in possession of several unwritten books in her head who is in want of a means of expressing herself.
Oh, I love that! So well expressed.
If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Oh, these types of questions are always so tough! Jane Austen (she is my hero, after all!) for lively conversation and so that I can ask her all of the questions I have about her work, Keanu Reeves because I feel like he would very much appreciate meeting Jane, and my boyfriend Lindsay because we both love Jane and Keanu!
And a bonus question. Do you have a favourite screen version of Pride and Prejudice
Oh, that’s such a difficult question to answer! I can’t choose just one I will say that I love the 1995 BBC miniseries for its perfect casting, the vivacity of the characters and because Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are amazing together.
But I will add that the 2005 movie with Matthew McFadyen and Keira Knightley is also amazing for the beautiful sets that really highlight the reduced circumstances of the Bennet family, and the piano music throughout is sublime!
My favourite Austen screen adaptation of all time is the 1996 version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow!! Everything about it is perfect!
Questions about Writing.
What inspired your new series? I’ve always loved stories about witches. My maternal line traces back to Romani Gypsy heritage, so it’s something that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I became a single mother I longed to move somewhere new and start fresh – even though it wasn’t possible for me at the time. So I thought about what would happen for a mother who could. What if she was an outcast in her new town? What if she was an outcast because she was a witch? It all stemmed from there, and Rosie found life inside my brain.
Why do you think that stories about witches resonate so strongly with women? There’s a strong undercurrent of sisterhood that flows through witch mythology. I think it calls to a lot of us on different levels, along with the themes it explores – feminine power, fighting to overcome oppression, otherworldliness, the idea that there’s a connection out there that’s altogether more primal than traditional religion.
What time of the day do you usually write? I typically write from around 9am to about 11am – or through until lunch if I’m having a good day.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Plotting! Luckily I have an amazing editor (I call her The Plot Whisperer) and she’s incredibly talented at taking all of my many and varied ideas and helping me make sense of them.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to writing. I get up early each morning, make breakfast, get my daughter off to school, and then sit down to write. I write around 2000 words a day or a little more if I can manage it, and once I feel my brain starting to liquefy inside my skull I move on to other duties. I do freelance graphic and web design work, so I usually do that in the afternoons, and then knock off around 3pm to spend time with my daughter, walk the dog, and cook dinner – all the fun things!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I never sit down to write until I’ve had my second coffee of the day, and I always light a candle before I start, and blow it out when I’m done for the day.
Did you do any research about witches for your current book? No specific research. I’m really into reading about supernatural things (witches included) anyway. For this series so far I’m just drawing on my own knowledge bank and also inventing a lot of other stuff to go along with it. I want the magic in Mosswood to be unique to the series, so it’s peppered with a lot of different things from various types of lore.
Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? My favourite character in the series so far is Priscilla (Prissy), Bishop. She’s the wife of the pastor at the Hand of God Southern Baptist Church in Mosswood. She’s blonde and tiny, and she knows everyone’s business in the worst possible way. I’m currently planning her comeuppance, and I can’t wait. Oh, I enjoyed reading about her – I shall look forward to that!
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I think it would depend on what sort of story they wanted to write! I absolutely think it’s possible to write a particular scene involving emotions that you don’t feel at the time of writing.
Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice I ever heard is to give myself permission to write the first draft before editing anything. The worst writing advice I ever got was from a very highly-regarded writing coach who told me to make the villain of my WIP at the time the son of my hero ala Star Wars. I didn’t. I think you were right, to follow your own instincts!
Best money you have spent as a writer?
Buying my iPad. I use it only for writing, and have it set up with Scrivener (syncing directly to DropBox – no lost files here, thanks!). It’s got excellent battery life, the keyboard case I have for it is really comfortable, and it’s small enough that I can take it absolutely anywhere – to the park, to a cafe, camping – and still be able to smash out my daily word count.
Do you have a favourite author and why? My favourite contemporary author is a brand new author by the name of Kimberly Jaye. Her debut Regency romantic comedy novel, The Perfect Widow, is due out later this year and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for it! I’ve had the privilege of being in her writing circle for many years, and this book is going to be laugh-out-loud funny! My hot tip is that this is an author to watch – she’ll be taking the historical romance world by storm. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberlyjayeauthor) so that you don’t miss out on anything!
What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I’m currently reading The Longing of Lone Wolves by WA-based author Lana Pecherczyk and a true-crime biography about serial killer Ted Bundy. Authors who have influenced my writing include David Eddings, Mary Janice Davidson, R.L. Stein, and Stephen King.
Favourite quote: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire. – Jane Austen
Favourite non-Austen book/story you have read as an adult? Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
Thanks for being with us, Louisa, and lots of luck with your new series.