Monday, March 16, 2020

Interview with E. Latimer for Witches Of Ash & Ruin

Witches of Ash and Ruin

by E. Latimer
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Queer
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Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer's motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don't stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that's impossible to put down.

Can you briefly describe WITCHES OF ASH AND RUIN and its characters?

Witches of Ash and Ruin is the story of two rival covens who must come together in spite of past grudges and a history of black magic, in order to defeat a serial killer who has resurfaced after ten years in order to target witches.

Alternating POVs tell the story of Dayna and Meiner, two witches from enemy covens who start to fall for one another in the midst of tracking down a supernatural serial killer. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

I really enjoyed writing Cora’s POV. She’s delightfully Slytherin, and very morally grey, and those are my favourite things.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

I definitely took inspiration from several sources, Maggie Stiefvator’s Raven Cycle series was one. I love Blue and her house full of magical women. Practical Magic too of course. And the kitchen that Dayna’s coven spends most of their time in is directly from the house of a childhood friend, so that’s straight out of my head.

And Celtic mythology has always fascinated me, because honestly it’s sort of patchy. We only have the written records of a bunch of old Christian monks who definitely put their own spin on it. And occasionally Julias Ceasar got into the act and wrote his own accounts of the gods, but he got it wrong a lot.

So what we have isn’t totally reliable, which means there are a lot of holes to fill. It’s not as well established as Greek mythology, or even Norse, but I kind of think it makes it even more fun to play with. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

That’s a hard one, I had a lot of great songs for inspiration while I was writing this book. But I think if I have to pick just one, it would be In the Woods Somewhere, by Hozier. It just has the eeriest feeling to it, and it touches on death and grief and fear and the setting is a dark forest, and it’s kind of just perfect.

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

I’ve always pictured Dayna as looking a bit like Raffey Cassidy. Also, I picture Dayna’s mother as basically being Fiona Dourif, which is hilarious because I didn’t intentionally name her Fiona. It just sort of happened.

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

I think it’s almost a rule you have to drink a strong black tea with it, Yemi would insist. Also, curled up by a fire is nice, or at the kitchen table while you’re waiting for a pie to bake.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish WITCHES OF ASH AND RUIN?

Well, the Raven Cycle if you haven’t already read it (I’m sure most have). There are also a number of fabulous books out this year, many of them with queer characters. These Witches Don’t Burn, and the sequel, This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling. When we Were Magic, by Sarah Gailey. The Winter Duke, by Claire Eliza Barlette, and All Your Twisted Secrets, by Diana Urban.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

I cannot tell a lie, I am not someone who enjoys the editing process. I find I often create a tangled mess while I’m enthusiastically drafting, and then after I’ve got to try to figure out what the heck I was attempting to do in the first place and fix it so it at least resembles something like it.

As a reader, what is the “one thing” that a mind-blowing story must have, in your opinion?

Realistic, compelling characters. I can take a lot of flaws in a story as long as the characters and their relationships with one another pull me in. Give me all the drama!

What’s next for you?

I am set to release another MG in 2021, and this one is about witches (no big surprise there).

I am also working on a manuscript I’m calling, “Bisexual Plant Druids and Sexy-but-Murderous Demon Kings”. It’s a working title.

E. Latimer is a fantasy writer from Victoria, BC. Her middle grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray was published by Tundra Books, and was recently nominated for the Red Maple Fiction Award.

In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the Word Nerds about writing, and reads excessively.

Her latest novel, Witches of Ash and Ruin, will be released Spring/Summer 2020 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

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