Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Our Friend is Here: Black History Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of February, where Black authors are invited to celebrate being Black and Black books! Find the introduction post for Black History Month here.
Nothing is as exciting as picking up a good witchy book and being whisked away by a thrilling story where the witches are complex, have their own unique powers, and there’s a curse to break. If you’re nodding away at this, then allow me to introduce to you a 2022 witchy book that you absolutely need to add to your to-read lists: The Witchery by S. Isabelle!
The Witchery is personally one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. Give me a story about witches, a hint about characters making complicated and ‘dark’ decisions, and paranormal goodness, and I’ll eat it right up immediately. Therefore, I am so, so excited to have the author of The Witchery, S. Isabelle visiting us today for Black History Month to talk about her upcoming YA debut! I loved this interview and it made me even more excited to read The Witchery when it releases in July, and I hope that it’ll make you excited for this book as well.
If you aren’t familiar with this book, I’ve got you! Allow me to introduce to you The Witchery, a paranormal witchy YA coming in July 2022.
The Witchery by S. Isabelle
THE HAUNTING SEASON IS HERE AND THE WOLVES ARE AWAKE.
Haelsford, Florida is a Hellmouth. Or at least, that’s what Logan, a baby witch struggling to control her powers, thinks as she arrives to the witchtown to begin the new school year at Mesmortes Coven Academy. She is immediately taken under the wing of the infamous Red Three. Iris is a deathwitch who wants nothing more than to break the town’s curse; Jailah is one of the most powerful witches at the academy but her thirst for power may lead her down a dark path; and Thalia, the talented greenwitch, is on the run from her religious family and a past that still haunts her.
Fear and prejudice still fuel the uneasy truce between humans and witches who are forced to work together when the Haunting Season begins and Wolves rise from the swamp to feed. With this approaching, two Hammersmitt boys prepare to make their first sacrifices to the witches in exchange for protection. But as they become involved with the Mesmortes witches’ plan to end the Wolves’ reign of terror once and for all, old dangers lie in wait.
The cost to break the curse may be greater than any witch or human could ever know.
Author Interview: S. Isabelle
CW: Hi Sophie! A warm welcome to The Quiet Pond, and thank you so much for visiting us today for Black History Month. For our friends out there who are only meeting you for the first time, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your favourite book of all time?
Sophie: Hi CW! Thanks so much for having me, I’m such a fan of The Quiet Pond! And sure—I’m a writer and a teen librarian, and The Witchery is my debut. You know, it always weirdly stresses me out to answer the favorite book question (I think because I’m constantly changing answers), but Toni Morrison’s Beloved has stuck with me as a favorite since high school.
CW: Your YA debut, The Witchery, releases on July 26th this year and I could not be more excited! Witches, boarding school, friendship, and a little spooky too? Can you tell us a little bit more about The Witchery, and what is your favourite thing about your debut?
Sophie: The Witchery follows a group of teens—four witches and two mundanes—who are trying to break a deadly hex on their town. Every autumn, cursed Wolves come out of the Swamp surrounding the town to hunt, and the teens are trying to stop them once and for all. My favorite thing about the book is how much it reminds me of the big, plotty, twisty media that I’ve enjoyed reading and watching. Ensemble casts are my absolute favorite, and I’m happy with how I’ve pulled it off.
CW: What sparked your interest in witches and writing a story about witches? Did your vision of the Mesmortes witches evolve across your different drafts?
Sophie: I think I’ve always been a little obsessed with witches! I consumed a lot of witchy media growing up, and that idea of harnessing magic and finding a magical community has always appealed to me. The Mesmortes witches definitely changed and evolved, and the magic system in particular has been adjusted quite a bit. None of my finished stories ever end up completely like I first imagined, but I’m so pleased with how this story turned out.
CW: The Witchery will follow four witches, Logan, Iris, Jailah, and Thalia, who all have their own stories and their own kind of power. Can you tell us more about each character, and also who you think you are most like of the four? 👀 And how did you approach writing and balancing six different perspectives?
Sophie: The Witchery does have a big cast! We have Iris, the prickly necromancer; Thalia, the quiet greenwitch with a bloody secret; Jailah, the cutthroat queen bee; and Logan, the baby witch with unpredictable magic. Then we have the two mundane boys who get roped into their quest—Trent, charming and friendly but with an ulterior motive, and Mathew, who is uninterested in witchery and doesn’t really know why he’s here… well, at least in the beginning, he doesn’t. As far as who I’m most like, I think I’m a mixture of Thalia and Trent, even though they’re opposites—the two of them were so much fun to write together!
Writing a multi-POV book with six characters was a ton of work, but I was able to balance their individual perspectives by really fleshing out who each character was on their own before trying to write all of them together. I was more of a pantser when I first started writing this novel, but character outlines were super helpful in keeping each voice consistent. My favorite thing in books with ensemble casts is that moment where the two characters you’ve been dying for to meet finally do. Imagining the friendships building between the cast was a major motivator to push through the tough writing days.
CW: What is a theme that you’re looking forward to people reading about in The Witchery? What excites you about this particular theme?
Sophie: Something I love about writing YA is exploring kids coming of age, and their self-discovery of who they are and what they want to stand for. Because of the high stakes in this story, the characters are often grappling with figuring out the right thing to do, whatever their understanding of that right thing might be. I loved creating each character’s moral compass, and seeing it twist and bend, and imagining the way each character would suggest dealing with dangerous consequences.
CW: It sounds like The Witchery will be a little spooky! What do you love about paranormal stories and tropes, and what paranormal goodness can we expect from The Witchery?
Sophie: While I enjoy all fantasy, paranormal is such a beloved genre for me because I like seeing how the fantastical fits in and survives in a mundane world. The Witchery plays off of a few tropes, though I don’t know that it fits neatly into any of them. The Chosen Ones here are chasing that title, rather than being given it from a higher entity. There’s some hate-to-love, strong platonic friendships, and hidden identities. As far as paranormal goodness goes (and I love that phrase), there are talkative spirits, creepy mirrors, possessions, and an epic team up to fight the Big Bad (which were some of my favorite scenes to write!)
CW: Thank you so, so much for visiting us today, Sophie! My last question is a question that I love to ask all of our guests: What is a food that reminds you of ‘home’ – wherever or whoever that may be?
Sophie: Oooh, I love this one! Any mention of Haitian food always makes me think of home. In particular, I love my mom’s soup joumou, which is made to celebrate Haitian Independence Day. Just one spoonful makes me feel like a kid again.
About the Author
I’m a reader, writer, and hoarder of books.
After earning a Master’s in library science, I took that love of reading to youth librarianship. When I’m not throwing books at teenagers, you can find me binge-watching tv shows, drinking heavily-sweetened coffee, or stressing over baseball.
My debut young adult novel The Witchery is set to be released from Scholastic in summer 2022.