Today, I’m pleased to hand the blog over to author Jennifer Harlow. I just read her book, WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO? (review here) and really enjoyed her smart, funny, and refreshingly normal heroine, Mona McGregor, who also happens to be one of the most powerful witches in the world. Please welcome Jennifer to the blog as she discusses witchcraft and how it inspired her to write this book!
“Write what you know.” Besides, “Just keep writing,” the later is the most common piece of advice given to aspiring novelists. It makes sense but what if you wish to write of goblins or vampires? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never made the acquaintance of either. I have no magical powers besides the ability to keep fish alive for years and the perfect witty comeback for any occasion yet I write about a woman who can move matter with her mind. I had to use my “powers” of imagination, empathy, and common sense to tell her tale (To see if I succeeded, read Mind Over Monsters and To Catch A Vampire, and you be the judge.) For my latest, What’s A Witch To Do? about, you guessed it, witches, I had far less need of my “powers” because…wait for it…I was once a witch. For a week. Oh, and I have witches on both sides of my family. So witches, I know them. Kind of a family tradition.
I didn’t know about this magical family tradition until I was immersed in my own witchy ways while in middle school. Like quite a few impressionable young adult girls, I went to see the now cult classic The Craft about four teenage girls who became witches and attempted to kill each other. I walked out of the theater and straight to the bookstore to buy as many spell books as I could find. (They had two.) For a week after, I attempted multiple spells ranging from getting this girl to stop hating me at school to a love spell. Not a damn one worked. So out went spell books and in went…I think my next phase was serial killers. I never had a My Little Pony phase.
Anyway, during my unsuccessful dabbling my father informed me that my Great-Grandmother Honey on my father’s side was a witch. A real live, had a coven and performed rituals Wiccan. I was gobsmacked. I remembered her as a tiny, gray haired old woman who smelled of lavender and liked to knit. And this was in the 1970s and 80s before everyone became massively P.C. (or just hide it better.) It was simply not done. The fact she was a true witch stayed with me for years, as did the “Rule of Three,” where every cruelty you do is given back to you three times over. I live by that rule just as much as the Christian Golden Rule of “Do unto others.” (Yet a few times when I told my Christian friends about my grandmother I was told Wiccans were evil, that they worshiped the devil. Go figure.) Then, a few years ago, I learned my aunt on my mother’s side is a Wiccan too. She hadn’t told anyone except my mother about it in fear of how my grandfather and uncle would react. From speaking to my family, and my own research, I learned that Wiccans are about as evil as kittens, that they worship nature and energy. Evil doesn’t factor into it. So when in college there was a class called, “The History of Witchcraft” I signed right up. There I learned not only about further Wiccan traditions like the Sabbaths and what herbs and colors symbolize, I also learned that “witches” were often burnt at the stake or drowned just on the basis that they someone accused them of it or they were old and unfertile. It was cringe worthy what happened to those women and few men, worse than what any serial killer has ever put his victim through. All because these people were viewed different. Other. Freaks. And I know something about F.R.E.A.K.S.
The idea of writing a book with a witch as the main focus has been stewing for years. To me witches are earth mothers, invoking nature to help others and themselves like regular mothers do. If werewolves represent the masculine side of the supernatural, then witches are the feminine. If vampires represent death then witches are life. You need both. That’s just nature. My main character Mona McGregor is the High Priestess of the largest coven in America. She can control earth, air, fire, water and is the physical embodiment of the fifth, the aether or spirit all living things possess. She is a surrogate mother, a fighter, a lover, and capable leader. I’ve been asked what I want people to take away from this book. First and foremost I want people to be entertained, but if one person changes their mind about my family’s traditions, I will be a happy non-witch indeed.
A suspenseful brew with a dash of passion
High Priestess might sound like an ’80s hair band, but its Mona McGregor’s life. She runs the Midnight Magic shop in Goodnight, Virginia, and leads a large coven. She’s also raising two nieces and hasn’t been with a man for fifteen years…until a handsome doctor takes an interest in her. But Mona’s life really heats up when Adam Blue, a sexy werewolf, arrives at her door. Adam informs her that someone wants her dead and he is there to protect her. Hell’s bells! When a demon begins stalking her, Mona has to suspect her coven members, and even her family.
With two handsome men and a determined demon after her, Mona teams up with Adam to find out who really wants her dead . . . and who really wants her.