Interview With Rachel Griffin

Misc.

Meet Rachel Griffin.

Rachel Griffin is the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire in 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. When she isn’t writing, you can find her wandering the Pacific Northwest, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, dog, and growing collection of houseplants.

Website: https://www.rachelgriffinbooks.com/

The Interview.

Hi Rachel!
Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Rae! Thank you so much for having me. I’m the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire on June 1, 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. I love to write stories inspired by the magic of the world around me.

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and have a deep love of nature, from the mountains to the ocean and all the towering evergreens in between. I adore moody skies and thunderstorms and hope that more vampires settle down in my beloved state of Washington.

On my path to writing novels, I graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Science in diagnostic ultrasound. I worked in healthcare for five years and taught ultrasound at my alma mater before making the switch to a small startup. I’ve been mentoring in Pitch Wars since 2017 and now write full-time from my home in the Seattle area.

When I’m not writing, you can find me wandering the PNW, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. I live with my husband, small dog, and growing collection of houseplants.

From sonographer to PR and social media to full-time writer. How has your background and the experiences you’ve gotten to have influenced you as a writer? Has it helped with goal keeping? Time management? Networking?

Absolutely! Practicing ultrasound meant I was with patients during some of their happiest moments, as well as some of their worst. And being with people when they receive either wonderful or devastating news certainly impacts how I tell stories and write those kinds of moments. It was a tough job, but I’m thankful for the connections I made during that time.

I thought I’d be amazing at time management when I started writing full-time because I was so used to cramming my writing in on evenings and weekends, but it was actually the reverse! It was so easy to procrastinate and not get any work done when I knew I had a full eight hours to write, so I had to develop a strict routine in order to get words on the page. I’m very dependent upon my planner, and I schedule my days out consistently to make sure I’m being as productive as I need to be.

How many drafts did your debut, The Nature of Witches, go through before being seen by an outside reader that wasn’t a family member, significant other, or close friend?

I drafted the book on my own, then did one revision before sharing it with critique partners. And even then, I only shared it with people I have a ton of trust in. I’m very private with my early work, and it’s important to me that I share it with people who I know will give me constructive feedback and try to see the story for what I want it to be.

After that, I did another round of revision, then I sent out it more broadly. For me, I know it’s imperative to my creative process to protect my early work, so that’s how I do it!

Magic and nature – how closely do you believe they are linked and how has that viewpoint/belief shaped your debut?

In many ways, I think nature is almost indistinguishable from magic, and that informed by debut a ton. Nature, weather, the Earth, so much of it feels like magic already, so it was easy for me to turn that up and imagine it as an expressly magical thing. I absolutely loved coming up with the magic system and imagining what kind of power and temperament each season would have—it was one of my favorite parts of writing this book!

If you and your main character Clara were sitting drinking tea and watching a thunderstorm, what would be a secret she might share with you? Or perhaps you with her?

I love this question! I think she’d share her fears about being “too much”; too sensitive, too emotional, too in her head. I share those same fears, so I think we’d really relate to one another and be able to curl up and assure the other that they aren’t too much of anything. We’d feel seen and understood, and hopefully we’d both walk away from that conversation reevaluating if the things we see as weaknesses are actually strengths instead.

From the first draft till now, what was the biggest bump on your publishing road so far?

It was definitely my querying journey with this book. For those of you who don’t know, querying is when you send your manuscript to literary agents in hopes of finding someone to represent your work. Then your agent is the one to submit your book to publishers. (This is how it works for traditional publishing, anyway! Self-publishing follows a different process.)

I parted ways with my first agent a couple months before I finished this book, so I had to query again. My first time querying only took me about a month to find representation (even though that book didn’t sell), but it took me almost a year to find representation for The Nature of Witches. I did two large revisions in that time and received a lot of rejections before signing with my current agent. It was so hard at the time, but the revisions I did made the book so much stronger, and I’m really thankful for how it worked out; I love my agent and she’s an incredible champion for my career. It just took a while to find her!

If you could go back and change anything that you had done from starting that first draft to now, what would you change? What would be something you tell yourself?

The book changed so much from the first draft to the final product! In the first draft, there weren’t witches; there were people called “seasonaries” who had a special connection to the weather, but no real magic. After I made the change to witches, there were several things I avoided doing in the manuscript because they were a lot of work and I was sick of revising, so I just didn’t do them and hoped no one would notice. 😂 But they were changes that made the book so much stronger, and when I finally did them, they took the manuscript to the next level. So I’d tell myself to just sit down and put in the work, because the book will be so much better for it.

Real life vs. Writing: What is your daily writing routine? Do you write all day? Only when inspiration strikes?

I rely very heavily upon my routine to keep me productive! I write Monday through Friday and tend to do administrative tasks in the mornings; then I write in the afternoons because that’s when I’m most productive. I’m a firm believer that most books get written not in bouts of intense inspiration but in the routine of sitting down and doing the work, even when we aren’t feeling inspired. If I only wrote when I felt inspired, I’d never finish a book!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

The Nature of Witches holds so much of my heart, and I’m so excited to share it with you! It’s a love letter to the Earth, and it contains so much of my awe for the natural world. But it also shows how change can be a beautiful thing, follows a girl learning to love herself, and includes a romance that explores what it feels like to fall in love with someone who sees you exactly as you want to be seen, all themes that are deeply important to me. It releases on June 1st, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

The Nature of Witches comes out June 1st!

Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

Cover Reveal: Ozma

Cover Reveal

Blurb: 

At Ozma’s birth, the witch, Mombi, abducted and cast a spell on her, turning the infant into a male. Only when Ozma broke the witch’s curse did she discover who she is—the True Queen of Oz. Her freedom is short lived when the Wizard, hungry for her power, imprisons her in a dark, brutal world, cut off from Jack and her magic.

Jack, too, was stolen as a child, forced to toil as Mombi’s slave. When he believed his lover died, Jack loses himself to an array of companions, while plotting his escape from Mombi.

Once Ozma is returned to the Land of Oz by a savior’s magic, she seeks to reunite with Jack while vowing to kill the two fae who ruined their lives. However, neither Jack or Ozma are the same as they once were. They must put their heartache aside to journey across the unforgiving land to stop the Wizard and keep evil from sweeping over the territories.

Book Links:

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50713469

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K4QNJ13/

Release Day Blitz: Crow

Blog Blitz

Blurb:
Reva spent the last twenty years in her own purgatory, first as the Wicked Witch of the West, then banished to eternity in darkness. Now that she’s returned from oblivion, Reva’s out for blood. The Northern Witch, Locasta, destroyed Reva’s life out of jealousy over Crow. But Reva’s love for him is gone, replaced only with the desire for revenge.

Crow wasted years trying to distract his mind after the Wicked Witch—his true love—was vanquished. He’d thought Reva was lost forever until magic brought her back, though their reunion was anything but happy. Reva hates him now as much as she loved him then. He can’t blame her—his former lover cursed them both and stole their daughter away. But he’s more determined than ever to earn Reva’s forgiveness.

When Reva leaves for the North, intent on destroying Locasta, Crow refuses to lose her to the same magic twice. He joins her on the journey, and, as much as Reva loathes him, she knows it’s for the best. Traveling is too dangerous on her own, but spending so much time together isn’t exactly safe for their hearts either. Hidden away in her castle, the Northern Witch waits to curse Reva and Crow once more. This time they need to put an end to Locasta, or suffer the consequences of the curse forever.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Laura Thalassa!

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49010036

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FYZ3CNK/

ARC Review: The Brass Queen

Book Reviews

Let me start off by saying that The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatworth is not something I usually read. Steampunk is a relatively unexplored subgenre for me, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect …

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The writing itself is elegant, thorough. Every detail paints an elaborate picture of what is being viewed and the reader can easily see what they are being shown. At times the detail was a little too much and distracting, dragging down the action, but I mostly appreciated the overall picturesque scenes as I got to experience the world through the hero and heroine’s POV.

Tying into the language, and as mentioned a little above, the overall flow of the story dragged for me even with the bouts of action. While reading, I often was waiting for something that I just didn’t quite get. The mix of historical characters and events, the devices, the side characters, usage of humor, all were fabulous, and I was greedy for more details on the artifacts that the Haltwhistle’s housed. It was the main characters, specifically Constance herself, that just didn’t mesh with me.

Constance was supposed to be “The Brass Queen” and yet I didn’t really see that. There is mentionings of her creations, her dealings, and nods to her “second” persona but she didn’t seem to know how to handle a situation and “luck” was mostly on her side so she could prevail. I wanted more from her. Expected more.

Overall I adored the historical aspects, the creations that were birthed, the humor, and the side characters that added to the whimsy feel. I enjoyed the realistic ending and the open-endedness of what the characters themselves will do next.

Rating: 3/5

Looking for a witty and humorous read with a splash of romance, steampunk creations, and historical oddities? Give The Brass Queen a try—releasing this month!

Interview With Author Allison Saft

Author Interview

Meet Allison Saft.

Social media links:

Hi Allison!

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Rae! Thank you so much for having me! I’m the author of Down Comes the Night, which is out in early 2021 with Wednesday Books. It’s a blend of YA fantasy and Gothic romance about two sworn enemies who must work together when a snowstorm traps them in a mysterious, crumbling estate. I’m inspired by real-world history and politics, vivid settings, and, honestly, anime. I was born in Philadelphia, but I’ve lived in Austin, New Orleans, and most recently, the California Bay Area. When I’m not writing, I’m usually hiking the redwoods, experimenting with new recipes, or practicing aerial silks.

The Interview.

Do you think your background in English Literature enhances or weakens your writing? Perhaps both?

When working within the conventions of a historical literary movement like the Gothic, I think a background in English Literature can be a huge boon! Gothic literature is more than just a flickering-candlelight aesthetic; understanding the economic and cultural factors that led to its popularity in the 19th century has been instrumental in telling a story that stays true to its roots while appealing to 21st-century readers.

I could see potential drawbacks to a literature background, too! When we treat novels as objects of study—as literary contraptions, as one professor of mine used to say—it can suck the joy out of them. Writing fiction, at least in the drafting stage, is a very emotional, intuitive, sometimes even spiritual practice for me; too much analysis can kill a project in its early stages. For what it’s worth, though, I think you can get roped into believing that all your academic friends will judge you if you write genre fic—or worse, young adult genre fic! But if you don’t respect what you’re working on, it won’t be any good. Besides, any friends who consider genre fic lesser aren’t worth listening to (and are missing out, honestly).

What kickstarted your writing journey and resulted in your debut, Down Comes the Night?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in some form or another (mostly fanfiction…), but what really kickstarted my writing journey was a mentorship program called Author Mentor Match. Deadlines always motivate me, so I planned to rewrite a trunked project during NaNoWriMo 2017 and submit it to AMM in March 2018. By late November, I finished my rewrite. I printed it out, read it through, and immediately threw it in the garbage. It was entirely soulless—the book I thought I was supposed to write rather than a book I really cared about.

I didn’t have any other ideas, so I moped for about a week. Then I thought, well, what do I have to lose? Why not write something fun? Something that would capture the magic writing once had when I was a teenager with no ambitions for my work beyond entertaining my friends. Something romantic and dramatic and full of all the tropes I loved. I finished a draft of Down Comes the Night in about six weeks. I ended up getting into AMM with it, and the guidance, support, and feedback from my mentor and peers were invaluable as I revised and queried the book. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I still count on them today!   

Name two things about Gothic literature that fascinate you.

Its relationship to the past—how it, by turns, expresses a longing to return to an unrecoverable time and stages hauntings from that which refuses to be left behind.

Its (sometimes hilariously) intense fixation on the emotional experience of the protagonist.  

As a writer, what has been your biggest struggle when drafting, revising, and editing?

Drafting: I’m a fast drafter—meaning I like to hurtle through a skeletal “draft zero” before I double back and fill in the details. Finishing that draft zero means I’m usually pretty sure a plot works in execution, but it also means the book reads almost like a screenplay. In those really early drafts, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine how a project will come together thematically and emotionally.

Revising: Since I draft the way I do, my first revision pass is basically… actually writing the book! That’s the hardest part, although it’s the most rewarding. From there, it’s all about ironing out the details, large and small. Revising Down Comes the Night nearly killed me a few times. It has an element of mystery, and it was hard to get right. Planning out the reveals, streamlining the investigation, cutting unnecessary red herring characters, making sure everyone’s motives were clear… Tears were shed!   

Editing: The hardest thing about editing is learning to let go. I struggled with this during line edits for Down Comes the Night, and I’m struggling again during copyedits. I could tinker forever with line-level prose, but there comes a point when you have to cut yourself off and accept that you’ve done the best you can. That the book will just be different, not better, and you may do more harm than good if you start messing with things that don’t need messing with.

What makes the ideal monster?

I think a lot about “monster romances” and what makes them work. What does it mean for a character to be monstrous? What does it mean for a (physically) non-monstrous character to identify with the monster? To me, it’s notable that some of the most successful (in my opinion) monster romances are between human women who are marginalized in some way and monsters who are similarly, often wrongly, reviled. In Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, it’s significant that Miryem is Jewish—as significant as it is that her monstrous love interest, the Staryk King, rules over a fae-like people who are hated because they supposedly strike ruthless bargains and impoverish the kingdom in their endless quest for gold. It’s significant that the heroine of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a mute woman named Elisa Esposito in love with a creature stolen from a river in Brazil.

However, I also think there are monsters who are purely reprehensible. Those that embody the ugliness in society or are clearly some cultural fear made flesh. I like them, too.

  • In terms of crumbly mansions, is there a real life mansion that you’ve visited or wanted to visit?

I’ve only ever been to the Newport mansions, which are stunning and ridiculous and the very opposite of crumbly. I’ve always wanted to see the real Allerdale Hall from Crimson Peak—but it turns out they built the entire set in the studio, which is wild to me!

What is the root of romance for you?

To me, a good romance has sizzling tension and also answers the question “why are these characters good for each other?” in a way that’s thematically satisfying.When I’m writing romance, I consider what the characters want and need individually—and how each character’s wants and needs both complement and complicate the other’s. I always try to write parallel character arcs for my romantic leads. Oftentimes, they both need the same thing; they’ve just developed different ways of coping with that lack and told themselves different stories about what exactly will make them happy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

While Down Comes the Night doesn’t come out until next year, there are some really exciting books coming out in 2020! I can tell you from experience that Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald and The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman are absolutely fantastic. Some of my most-anticipated reads are Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Barshardoust, The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, and A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe.

Blog Tour: For Better or Cursed

Blog Tour

For Better or Cursed 

(The Babysitters Coven #2)

by Kate Williams

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: September 15th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Magic Realism, Fiction

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | iTunes | Google Books

Synopsis:
Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed sequel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Esme Pearl’s life used to be all about bumming rides and babysitting. Sure, it wasn’t glamorous, but it was predictable. All that changed when Cassandra Heaven came to town, and they discovered their complicated, and connected, legacy: Esme and Cassandra are Sitters, supernaturally-gifted teens armed with an ever-changing grimoire of Sitter witchcraft to help them protect the innocent and keep evil demons at bay. You know, the typical teenage stuff.

But just as Esme is starting to adjust to–and maybe even like–her new normal, life lobs another glitter bomb her way. The Synod–the Sitterhood’s governing circle–has called a Summit, a once-in-a-generation gathering that promises training, education, and whole lot of ice-breakers.

Esme should be excited–a Summit might mean she can finally get the answers she desperately wants–but she can’t shake a building sense of panic. Especially since Cassandra’s not acting like herself; Esme’s dad is MIA; Pig is out of dog food; Janis is scared to be alone; and there’s a guy who seems too good to be true, again. Worst of all, it soon becomes clear, there’s no one watching the kids. It’s obvious the Summit is a haute mess, but will it be a deadly one, too?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

I’m the author of the YA novel The Babysitters Coven.
I also write for magazines, including Cosmopolitan, NYLON, Elle, Women’s Health, Shape, Time Out New York, Monster Children, Russh, Oyster, The Fader, NME, H&M, Smith Journal, Gather Journal, KnitWit, Popular, Style.com and more.


I have ghostwritten New York Times bestsellers, celebrity tell-alls, memoirs, how-tos, and beauty bibles (Shh…. I was never here, and you haven’t seen me.)


And, just ‘cause we’re still talking about me, I’ve also written windows, billboards, emails and captions, captions, captions for brands such as Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal, Vans, Calvin Klein, Nike, Lively, BAGGU and more.
I love to write about witches, teenagers, girls behaving badly, palm trees, and other forms of magic. Teenage girl witches behaving badly under the palm trees is my penultimate subject.

Guest Post.

Movies NOT to watch if you’re a babysitter

I got the idea for The Babysitters Coven when I started to think about how many horror movies feature a babysitter as a main character. Taking care of children is never an easy job, but here are five flicks that will make any babysitter reconsider her career path!

  1. Halloween (1978): This classic film is so much about torturing a teenage babysitter that it was originally titled “The Babysitter Murders.” Fortunately, that babysitter is badass Laurie Strode, who survives and goes on to star in many, many sequels.
  2. When A Stranger Calls (1979): An eerie prank caller keeps urging the babysitter to “check the children,” and…spoiler alert…the call is coming from inside the house!!!
  3. Child’s Play (1988): Sometimes it’s not the kids or the parents who are evil. Sometimes it’s the toys.
  4. The House of the Devil (2009): Pro-babysitting tip: when hired to babysit for a new family and you arrive to find out they have no children, just call it a night and head home.
  5. Better Watch Out (2016): A little Christmas movie about the horrors of white male privilege.

Tour Schedule Here.

Giveaway Info:

Prize: Win a physical copy of FOR BETTER OR CURSED by Kate Williams (US Only)

Starts: 23rd November 2020

Ends: 14th December 2020

To enter, click here.

Tour Organized By: