Something a little different for my blog, an author interview. Debora Geary, author of “A Modern Witch” and “A Hidden Witch” was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
I’ve only read two of your books – “A Modern Witch” and “A Hidden Witch”. In both of these I was struck by the importance of family and the bonds of friendship between the characters. While some of them enjoy their personal space, in most cases they come to their rights when they are surrounded by friends and family. In fact, the strongest magic is created by several withes supporting one another’s skills. Why this emphasis on togetherness?
It’s where the books went. I started off with three witches in three different parts of the world – doesn’t sound like a recipe for family and togetherness, does it? But then, as I started to write Nell’s character, she needed a family. So I gave her some kids, and a brother – and they rather insisted on taking over the story. By book two, I knew what to expect, so Moira’s Nova Scotia clan wasn’t a surprise any more.
When I look back on the first two books, I can’t imagine them without that strong current of family and community. But when I sat down to write A Modern Witch, I thought I was writing a book about witches and magic on the Internet. The rest came from trying to learn a little more about the characters in my head. It’s ironic – I’m actually quite a solitary person…
Quite a few of the characters are very young, and yet they play as important a role in the plot as the adult characters. In fact, the young witches are taken very seriously by the adults, and often given quite adult responsibilities. Does that reflect your own attitude?
Hmm. Yes, I think it does. I believe children are often overlooked and underestimated. However, the witchlings in my books also come into extra responsibility early, by virtue of their special talents. I wanted to build a world where those talents were nurtured, and encouraged, but where my magical kiddos also have the space and security to play, and enjoy being kids.
While “A Hidden Witch” seems a little sadder at times than “A Modern Witch”, it is still a lot less angsty and grim than most fantasy books out there. Is this a choice you have made as a writer and story teller?
I grew up reading McCaffrey, Zimmer Bradley, and Lackey. While there are definitely dark moments in those books, mostly they are just wonderful stories with rich characters. And in my current life, I really appreciate an escape into light and happy. I suspect those are the two main reasons I wrote the books I did.
Added to that, I’m a wimp. I can’t make it through a good number of current fantasy reads, even the really good ones. Too much darkness and grim gives me nightmares!
Another strong theme in this second book is the various characters relationship with technology, and the push and pull between modern technology’s ability to connect people and its intimidating and impersonal aspect. From the supreme confidence of the spell coding witches to the older witches who barely know which end of a mouse is up – where do you fit on this spectrum yourself?
I’m a geek. I love computers, I love the ability of technology to connect us… to writer friends in South Africa, for example :). It’s been a lot of fun to blend technology with magic, and see what comes out of that. But I also have some sympathy for the less technologically competent. There’s very little I can’t do with a computer. But my cell phone – well, for starters, it took me until six months ago to cave in and actually own one. I’ve figured out how to call my husband, and that’s about it. And I was not made to type with my thumbs.
Are there writers who you find particularly influential – and if so, who are they?
I already mentioned McCaffrey, Zimmer Bradley, and Lackey. I read voraciously as a child and teen – multiple books a day. I suspect the foundations were well laid then, and I can’t even begin to name all the authors I read. They collectively fostered my love of a good book as a world I wanted to stay in, to live amongst the characters and belong to their story. The first reader email I got, saying I’d done that for them – made me cry.
I’m curious about the next book in the series. Can you give any hints on what we can expect from “A Reckless Witch” ?
A little more action on the magic front – Sierra, the newly fetched witch, has weather magic. Moira always says, “with big power, comes big responsibility”. Well, our Sierra isn’t convinced of that… I also have a couple of important story lines running from the first two books. Nat and Jamie’s baby is about to arrive – and it’s time for a man to land in Lauren’s life. My readers insisted on that one :).