An example of my mom’s excellent parenting skills, she exposed me to THE CRAFT film growing up, and it remains one of my all-time witchy movies. What was the biggest inspiration for creating a story about a girl who falls in love with a boy she’s bewitched?
Ruth: The idea came about in a very roundabout way - I was listening to the radio and there was a programme on about romance. The commentator was saying that the secret to a compelling romance is plenty of obstacles, and that these were hard to find in an increasingly permissive society. If a couple likes each other, these days it's hard to find reasons for them not to fall into each others arms! I listened to it thinking that for me, the main reason not to fall into someone's arms would be if I wasn't sure whether they really liked me. And suddenly the seed for A Witch in Winter came into my head - a girl casts a love spell on the boy she fancies. It works, but the price she pays is never being truly sure if he really loves her.
Then, in order to write it, I had to come up with a system of magic and in doing that lots of other influences came into play. I wanted something that felt authentically old, so I found myself going back to the texts I'd studied at university - medieval and Anglo-Saxon ones.
If you could go back to your teen years and cast a love spell on any boy of your choice, would you be more interested in casting one on a boy you loathed as payback or a boy you secretly liked?
Ruth: I really wouldn't want to do either! I know that's a wussy answer, but I think either would be horrible. I can't imagine anything worse than a boy you loathe following you about, constantly trying to jump your bones or woo you with his big sad eyes. But as Anna finds out in A Witch in Winter, the other option is pretty bad too. What's worse than really really liking someone, but never being able to believe it when they say they love you?
If the guy you loved happened to be enchanted, what would he have to do to prove to YOU his love was real and not conjured? (For example: I would demand my guy serenade me, and if he refused, I’d know he wasn’t brainwashed by all that hocus pocus xD)
Ruth: Hmm... tough one! Some guys would love to serenade you, you know! I have two friends who met in a karaoke bar and I'm pretty sure he would jump at the chance :D. I think I'd buy him a big pink teddy bear embroidered with both our names in a heart on its chest, and demand that he put it on the back shelf of his car to prove his love. I'm pretty sure no rationally thinking bloke would go for that. But then I suppose part of the argument of A Witch in Winter is that love in itself is a kind of bewitchment - we do crazy, irrational things because of nothing more than lust and hormones. So even that might not work if the guy was (truly) nuts enough. At least it would be a good test of his taste, anyway.
What’s one of the most frightening consequences about being a witch in your Winter Trilogy?
Ruth: Having the power to affect people's lives - for good or evil - and not necessarily being able to control that power.
What are some of the darkest things you had to learn in order to write A WITCH IN WINTER and A WITCH IN LOVE the way you wanted to? I’ve heard my friends say the books aren’t about “frilly love spells” but actual heavy-duty witchcraft—did any of it feel real while you were researching it?
Ruth: I did a lot of research for both. For A Witch in Winter it was mainly about witchcraft and spells. There are some real superstitions in the book, but I deliberately didn't use real spell books (even though there are grimoires out there on the internet, including some very old ones). I guess in some ways this was superstition on my part - it didn't feel right to mess around with something that has such a weight of belief and suffering invested in it.
For A Witch in Love I researched witch persecution and burning, and I read a book called The Malleus Maleficarum, which features quite heavily in A Witch in Love. That was probably the single most horrific thing I had to wade through. It's all about how to detect and try witches, and it makes for very, very tough reading, the moreso because you have to remember that the authors, though clearly nutjobs of the highest order, believed everything they were saying and had a major influence on Europe and North America for a long time. They were also horrendous misogynists. I drew on the book a lot for writing, but toned it down considerably - there was no way I could inflict some of the stuff I read on readers.
And, finally, do you believe in fairy tales—the happy endings or the tragedies?
Ruth: Of course. All fairytales are true on some level - both kinds.
Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.
Although a perfect fit for the paranormal romance genre, A WITCH IN WINTER avoids fangs, excessive body hair and submissive female leads, and tells the heart-wrenching story of a couple meant to be together, but being forced apart. Seth is utterly irresistible and Anna is an empowered, proactive young woman with unimaginable magic inside her. This is fast-paced, sensuous writing with believable incantations inspired by Warburton's research into witchcraft legend and old English.
Make sure to stop by later today for Bloggers' Choice, a review of Defiance by CJ Redwine, and a review of The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen!!
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Thank you so much for stopping by, Ruth! I honestly cannot wait to read the Winter Trilogy! Comment down below if you've ever had a guy serenade you or you recently cast a love spell.