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The Witch's Daughter (The Witch's Daughter, #1)
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The Witch's Daughter > A Conversation with Paula Brackston

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message 1: by Angie (last edited Dec 03, 2015 08:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie (amgiammarino) A Conversation with Paula Brackston

Could you tell us a little bit about your background, and when you decided that you wanted to lead a literary life?

I’ve always written—stories, journals, long letters, even a novel—but it took me a long time to believe I could be a writer. To me, writers were mysterious people who knew what they were about, were focused, clever, and serious authors from the outset. My life seemed to consist of getting and getting rid of unsuitable boyfriends and equally ill-fitting jobs. I tried to write in rare moments of calm along the way. I’ve worked as a nanny, a travel agent, a secretary, a stable hand, and a goatherd!
When I hit thirty I knew something had to change. I trained to teach English as a foreign language so that I could freelance, allowing me time to write. Even then I did far more teaching than writing. So I left London and persuaded a publisher to commission me to ride around Wales for a month and write a travel book about my experiences. That, I guess, was the start, for me.

What kind of research did you have to do to bring this story to life on the page?

I set myself a real research challenge with The Witch’s Daughter, since the novel is based in the present day and in three historical periods. And, of course, I had to immerse myself in the subject of magic. The Internet proved a boon, not least because I live in a remote area of Wales and the local library would have struggled to meet my needs. For a writer, however, the Web can be a pernicious stealer of time—if you’re not careful you end up with a vast collection of materials and information and no book! I find it helps to have things around me that are of the period I am researching. I stick pictures up by my desk (which is under the stairs), find knickknacks or bits of costume jewelry in junk shops, even start to wear clothes that put me in mind of where and when I am trying to write about. My family is very tolerant of all this, but they were a bit nervous about the witch’s cauldron I wanted to cook dinner in.

When you start a new book, do you like to outline the entire story or fly by the seat of your pants? What about your characters? Do you figure them out entirely before you start writing or do they reveal themselves to you along the way?

An idea will start forming in the murky mists of my mind, and out of that will step my main character. I’ll spend some weeks noodling over a story before I write anything down. It has to incubate before it’s ready to fall onto the page, even in note form. The characters drive the story, and the clearer they become to me, the easier it is to find the tale they want to tell.

How do you come up with your character names?

I enjoy choosing names for my characters, but it often takes me a while to find the right one. Sometimes I’ll finish a book and then go back and change the main character’s name. In The Witch’s Daughter names were even more significant than they ordinarily are. Both Elizabeth and Gideon had to have names that could be changed, slightly or more fundamentally depending on who they were “being” or where they were.
Fortunately, I’ve always been quite good at anagrams.

If your book were to be turned into a movie, would your dream cast be?

I think Rachel Weisz would be the perfect Elizabeth Hawksmith. Gideon would be harder to cast, but I’m always impressed by the performances of British actor Tom Hardy. He’d make a splendid job of it. Well, a girl can dream.

Which fictional character do you have a secret crush on?

I’ll try and avoid giving you a list! I spent many weeks as a teenager dreaming about Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff. And I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Both a little worrying, really.

Desert Island time. You can bring one person and one thing. What would you bring?

As I couldn’t choose between my children I guess it’d have to be my partner. He’s good at all the things I’m rubbish at, like lighting fires, building shelters, fishing, etc. He’s also a good listener, so I could construct whole new books in my head and tell them to him, while sitting next to the fire he’s just lit, outside the shelter he’s built, eating the fish he’s caught. A fair division of labor, I feel.
I’d take a fine-bone china cup and saucer. I’m sure there would be something on the island we could make tea out of, but it wouldn’t have the same calming-yet-restorative effect if I didn’t have a decent cup. Now I feel irredeemably British!

What’s up next for you?

I’m working on a new novel. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m exploring another historical period, and right now I’ve got a wonderful new witch standing at my shoulder and whispering ideas in my ear.


message 2: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (dhaupt) | 8 comments Paula, I too loved Heathcliff growing up and my other love Mr. Spock from Star Trek ;)

Thanks for telling us a bit about you


message 3: by SherryRose (new)

SherryRose Off topic, every book cover is gorgeous.


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