Monday Merry Meet on a Tuesday: Elisabeth Hobbes

Yesterday the Emporium, like many places was shut so everyone could pay our respects to our Queen Elizabeth II. This means our Monday Merry Meet met on Tuesday instead and we’re delighted to catch to Elisabeth Hobbes, author of historical romances and thrillers.

Monday Merry Meet: Elisabeth Hobbes

Willow: Hi Elisabeth, come in. The sea breeze is more than a bluster today with the waves crashing against the harbour wall. Make yourself at home and warm up. Amber is at college, so it’s me and Rosa today. What can we get you to drink? Yorkshire tea, many other teas or herbal tisanes, coffee, or maybe something stronger.

Elisabeth: I’m always partial to a good mug of Yorkshire Tea, please. Since moving away from York where I grew up, it doesn’t taste the same, but I buy it anyway to remind me of home. I like an occasional herbal tea in the afternoon, either lemon and ginger or fennel.

Rosa: Mr Harper brought in some posh red wine as a thanks for a throat elixir, which meant he could do the speeches at his daughter’s wedding without coughing. I can open that.

The red wine or the throat elixir? I teach 5-year-olds for 3 days a week so I could definitely do with something to save my voice!

Rosa: Looking at the wine, both would work for that. Your book Daughter of Sea looks beautiful, and we were drawn to it with the mention of Barbara Erskine and Christina Courtenay, who are some of our favourite time slip authors. Christina visited us recently. Have you always written this genre?

I’ve always written stories set in the past, but Daughter of the Sea is my first with a fantastical/folklore element. I love to read them though. I’m a huge fan of stories where the uncanny overlaps or spills into our world. I began it as an entry to the Romantic Novelists Association Elizabeth Goudge contest called ‘The Foster Child’ and I won, so I knew I had to expand and complete it. At the moment I’m alternating books set in France during the second World War with fantasy/folklore historical romances.

Willow: Daughter of the Sea is based on the selkie legends. What was it about them that inspired you to write this story? Did you do much research?

There’s something fascinating about the idea of people who can move between worlds, but I knew I wanted to steer clear of merpeople. Because the prompt for the story was ‘the child from the sea’ I knew it had to start with Effie finding the baby floating in a basket. Discovering her wrapped in fur pushed me in the direction of selkies. The idea of a dark haired, handsome stranger appearing wrapped in furs was an image that stuck with me too, especially when I decided Lachlan, the baby’s father, looked like Richard Armitage in my head with a lovely Scottish accent.

I found quite a few selkie legends, most of which follow the pattern of a selkie either having their sealskin taken or giving it up willingly, and living in human form. As part of Daughter of the Sea I wrote a couple of my own ‘old tales’ which Lachlan tells to Effie and the children. I hope readers will think they sound convincingly authentic.

Underwater scene of a female selkie talking to seals
Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

Rosa: What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

I started off writing medieval romances for Mills & Boon and was very happy doing that, expanding after a few books into the 15th century and Victorian era. When Charlotte from One More Chapter expressed interest in Daughter of The Sea she asked me to write a Second World War story first. It was a leap into the unknown but I’m so glad I took it. I don’t think I would change anything because I’ve been lucky to work with fantastic editorial teams at both Mills & Boon and One More Chapter and I’ve made some firm friends. The only thing I’d do is fit more hours in the day or become faster at typing. I don’t suppose you have any potions to help, do you?

Willow: We keep trying to make those potions but they’re temperamental and have unfortunate side effects. I’d probably be sued if I sold them. I know when I’m working, I have set rituals I need to do to be productive, do you have a particular writing routine?

I start my writing days with a cup of tea (in bed rather than rushing round getting dressed to leave for school) then take my two dogs out for a walk. It’s a good way to clear my head and try get into a writing frame of mind. Then it’s a case of a shower, a second cup of tea and trying to get my head down to work. I dictate into a voice to text app as I drive to school so I always have notes to try untangle.

Willow: Several customers want to write after reading some books from the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf. Do you Advice for new writers?

I am dreadful for getting tangled up in research. I can lose hours online trying to find the particular name for a type of dagger, or the right sort of cloth, or the length of a journey. One trick I find helps to not get bogged down is to write something like ‘crzclothname’ and move on. If I forget to go back then the spellcheck picks it up and reminds me.

Rosa: That’s a great tip. The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Financial security would make all the difference in the world. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to write on two days a week and teach on three. I adore being in the classroom with the children, but I’d love to be able to cut down another day and write for three (or tidy the house, my husband might say).

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit? Where would it take you?

It would take me to Serre Chevalier in the French Alps for a week of skiing with sunshine but lots of snow. There’s nothing better for my wellbeing than a blue sky over snow covered mountains (and the promise of a hot chocolate at the bottom of the slope).

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

I never have, which is very disappointing considering I come from supposedly the most haunted city in the world! I’m autistic and atheist, so am more likely to look for a logical explanation even if a ghost sat next to me. It helped me write Effie, who is also very practically minded (and slightly scathing of her grandmother’s remedies) until she’s confronted with absolute proof of the supernatural/uncanny in the form of Lachlan and Morna.

Rosa: In your biography, you mention you lived in Yorkshire but moved to Cheshire after your car broke down. How did that happen?

My husband and I had moved back from Greece, where we had been teaching English. We were both working at summer schools in different part of the country and only had one weekend where we could get together to house hunt. We based ourselves at his aunt’s house in a small mill town and planned to drive into Manchester to find somewhere, but ended up having to look round the town on foot when the car wouldn’t start.

Rosa: If the witches could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Super speed so I could really blitz my house. With 2 teenagers, a husband and 2 dogs, the house it always messy and hasn’t had a proper top-to-bottom clean for far too long.

Willow: We could all do with that spell.  What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

 I absolutely love Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s a children’s book, but I think you’re never too old for a good one. I read it as a teenager and I love the Studio Ghibli animated version too. It’s about Sophie who gets put under a curse to turn her into an old woman. She takes a job as housekeeper for the wizard Howl in his castle which moves round the countryside on legs. The story is about how together they break the curses on them both.

Rosa:  What would you add to my box of Romance?

Without hesitation, Persuasion by Jane Austen (don’t ask me about the recent adaptation). It’s such a beautiful story of second chances and finding inner confidence to go after what you believe in. The letter from Captain Wentworth sends shivers down my spine. Lyme Regis isn’t as nice as Whitby of course!

Willow: Whitby is a special place. What are you working on currently? If you can say or is it top secret?

I’m working on a book set in the French Alps during World War Two, but I’m waiting for my editor to get back to me about the one I’ve recently set her. That’s another with fantasy elements about a young boy who meets a dryad in a sycamore tree, forgets her, then meets her again as a young man. I hope she likes it because I loved writing it.

Rosa: Fingers crossed she will so we can read it. Thanks for dropping by it was lovely to meet you

Willow: And here’s some throat elixir for your teaching days.

Author biography

Eilsabeth Hobbes white woman with short blonde hair and dark square glasses.
Elisabeth Hobbes

Elisabeth began writing in secret, but when she came third in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013, she was offered a two-book contract, and consequently had to admit why the house was such a tip.  Elisabeth has published historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon and One More Chapter, spanning the Middle Ages to the Second World War.

Elisabeth teaches Reception but she’d rather be writing full time because unlike four-year-olds, her characters generally do what she tells them.  When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.

She was born and raised in York but now lives in Cheshire because her car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethHobbes/

Twitter https://twitter.com/ElisabethHobbes

Blog  https://elisabethhobbes.co.uk

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/elisabeth-hobbes?follow=true

Amazon viewauthor.at/ElisabethHobbes

Daughter of the Sea by Elisabeth Hobbes

Blurb

On a windswept British coastline, the tide deposits an unexpected gift…

It was the cry that she first noticed, the plaintive wail that called to her over the crash of winter waves. Wrapped only in a sealskin, the baby girl looks up at Effie and instantly captures her heart. She meant only to temporarily foster the young orphan, but when news reaches Effie that her husband has been lost at sea, and months pass without anyone claiming the infant, she embraces her new family—her son, Jack, and her adopted daughter, Morna.

Effie has always been an outcast in her village, the only granddaughter of a woman people whisper is a witch, so she’s used to a solitary existence. But when Midsummer arrives, so, too, does a man claiming to be Morna’s father. There’s no denying Lachlan is the girl’s kin, and so, Effie is surprised when he asks her to continue looking after his daughter, mysteriously refusing to explain why. She agrees, but when he returns six months hence, she pushes him for answers. And Lachlan tells a story she never anticipated… one of selkies, legend, and the power of the sea…

Monday Merry Meet: Christina Courtenay

After the shock news about our Queen Elizabeth, it’s been a hard weekend and has affected all in the Emporium. Complimentary ‘hug and love’ tea has been added to each purchase to provide the feeling of a calming embrace to all who require one. She had a more of an impact on everyone’s lives than we realised and will be missed. Only Percy and the Marleys have known other monarchs in their lifetimes.

On a lighter note, today we are delighted to welcome Christina Courtenay, author of many timeslip novels to chat about her books and writing.

Monday Merry Meet: Christina Courtenay

Rosa: Hi Christina, Willow will be with you shortly. She is just dealing with a time crucial spell. It’s a pongy one, and the stench has crept out of the workroom into the backroom so we’ll chat out here on the shop floor if that’s ok? Can I get you a drink? You can choose any tea blend we stock, coffee or something stronger?

Christina: Thank you, any kind of fruit tea would be lovely – blackcurrant, perhaps? With lots of milk and sugar, please.

Vintage cup and saucer of tea
Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

Willow: Hi Christina, glad you have a drink. Did Rosa explain about the backroom? No one wants to sit in a room that stinks of rotten eggs. Amber sends her apologies too: she’s stuck at college today. Have a seat.

Your latest novel is called Hidden in the Mists. Please, can you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?

Christina: Hidden in the Mists was inspired by a combination of the Galloway Hoard (a Viking treasure found in Galloway in 2014) and the west coast of Scotland. During the Covid lockdown, I was trying to come up with ideas for a story where I was already familiar with the setting, as we weren’t allowed to travel. I’ve always loved Scotland and have a friend who lives on the coast just opposite the island of Jura, so that seemed ideal. (She was able to help with details if my memory failed). And the hoard found in Galloway had long been on my mind as I wondered what it would feel like to find something like that and why someone would bury a treasure and then not return for it. The ideas for the plot grew from that.

Rosa: Your novels are a combination of sweeping romances and time-slip. What made you choose this genre mix?

Christina: Ever since I read my first time-slip (or dual time, as some people call it) novel, I’ve been drawn to this sub-genre. I think it’s a combination of the paranormal/magical possibilities and the fact that you get to have two love stories for the price of one, as it were. There are usually two couples, one in the past and one in the present, and they are connected through time somehow. The idea of twin souls or two people destined to love each other for eternity and through the passage of time really appeals to me.

Willow: We love to hear about writer’s publication journeys. What has yours been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Christina: My road to publication was very long! I started writing when my older daughter was a baby as I wanted a job I could do while still being a stay-at-home mum to her, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. (I was very naïve!) I eventually got published the week after she left home aged 21, so things didn’t quite go to plan … But perseverance pays off! I don’t think I would have done anything differently as I did everything I could to learn and improve as a writer during those years.

Rosa: Do you have a set writing routine?

Christina: No, not really. I try to write every day or if I’m not writing; I do research and take notes. But sometimes the words just don’t flow and I give myself time off until inspiration strikes. If I am feeling inspired, I can write all day and all night so it evens out eventually.

Willow: Several customers long to be writers. What advice would you give to those wanting to give it a try?

Christina: Join some kind of writing group or organisation and try to learn as much as possible about the craft of writing. And, if possible, find yourself a writing buddy – someone who is at the same stage in the process as yourself and whose opinion you trust. Writing can be a very lonely business and it’s great to get to know other authors who understand the journey you are on. I belong to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, for example, and they have lots of events and regional groups where the members support each other. That’s been brilliant for me!

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Christina: I think I would choose luck, because that’s always useful, or possibly confidence – as an author, it is very easy to lose confidence in your own writing and start to doubt what you are doing.

Willow: One candle we stock invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit? Where would it take you?

Christina: Probably to Japan during cherry blossom season. It is one of my favourite countries and there is so much to see and do – I just love it there!

Willow: I agree with you. I loved Japan when I visited and the cherry blossom is spectacular.

Rosa: If you could spend a week in a different era, when would it be and would it be in a particular location?

Christina: Obviously, I’d love to go back to Viking times and it would be fun to spend time in one of the trading towns like Birka or Jorvik.

Willow: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium, have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Christina: Personally I haven’t experienced anything paranormal, but I used to stay regularly at a 600-year old manor house which had a resident ghost. The owners had seen him and he was young, handsome, blond and wearing chain mail, so I was very upset that I didn’t get to meet him. I did base a story on him and that house though – The Silent Touch of Shadows – so I got to spend time with him in my imagination at least.

Willow: He sounds fascinating and we’ll have to keep an eye out for that book. It’s added to my TBR list. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Christina: I’d like to be able to travel in the blink of an eye as I hate travelling – traffic jams, long journeys, airplanes … could really do without those!

Willow: Good choice. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Christina: I love Sarah J Maas’s series starting with A Court of Thorns and Roses, it’s fantastic! But I’d recommend adding any books by Susanna Kearsley, Nicola Cornick or Barbara Erskine too.

Rosa: We’re all Barbara Erskine fans here. How important is a happy ever after ending to you and which romance would you add to my box of Romance?

Christina: The happy ever after ending is everything! I refuse to read books that don’t have a HEA (and yes, I have been known to check before buying) as I feel that the real world is too depressing and we need happiness in the stories we read. I read so many wonderful romance books it’s hard to choose just one, but anything by Sue Moorcroft is always guaranteed to be wonderful.

Willow: She is a great author to read at Christmas. Finally, what are you working on now or is it top secret?

Christina: I’m working on the next book in my Vikings Runes series – Promises of the Runes – which will be published in April next year. It’s the story of Ivar Thoresson, a 21st century archaeologist who decides to travel back to the Viking era to see what it was like. And the reality is a lot more than he expected …

Willow and Rosa: Thanks so much for visiting. It’s been lovely to chat.

Christina: Thank you so much for inviting me!

Book cover for Hidden in the Mist by Christina Courtenay

blue cover with red trees poking out through a mist and a woman in a cloak walking towards them.
Hidden in the Mists by Christina Courtenay

Blurb

A love forged in fire lives on through the ages

Skye Logan has been struggling to run her remote farm on Scotland’s west coast alone ever since her marriage fell apart. When a handsome stranger turns up looking for work, it seems that her wish for help has been granted.

Rafe Carlisle is searching for peace and somewhere he can forget about the last few years. But echoes of the distant past won’t leave Skye and Rafe alone, and they begin to experience vivid dreams which appear to be linked to the Viking jewellery they each wear.

It seems that the ghosts of the past have secrets . . . and they have something that they want Skye and Rafe to know.

Author biography

Photo of Christina Courtenay. A white woman with wonderful long ringlety reddish hair. Wearing a black jumper
Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the RunesHidden in the Mists (timeslip/dual time romance published by Headline Review 18th August 2022) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media:-

http://www.christinacourtenay.com

https://www.facebook.com/christinacourtenayauthor?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/PiaCCourtenay

https://www.instagram.com/ChristinaCourtenayAuthor/

Monday Merry Meet: Lilian Brooks

Welcome to another Monday. This week we’re excited to chat to Lilian Brooks. Her debut novel Dormant Magick, follows Alyssa Bright when she returns to her hometown, Whitby from New York city after her suppressed magic wakes up with devastating results. With a blurb like that, we were thrilled to find a copy on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and after reading, we needed to find out more about Lilian herself.

Photo of blue teapot, teacup and whittards tin of tea and a kindle showong the cover of Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks
Tea and a magical read is the perfect combo

Monday Merry Meet: Lilian Brooks

Willow: Hi, we’re so excited to have an author who writes about fellow witches from our hometown to join us for a chat. Come through to the back of the shop and have a seat. I’ll pop the kettle on. Would you like a cup of Yorkshire tea, herbal teas, coffee or something stronger. I’m experimenting with different flavoured gins or a customer has left a bottle of parsnip wine.

Lilian: Thank you for inviting me – I’m so excited to be here! Wow, your shop is amazing! I think I’ll pass on the parsnip wine for now thanks, but I’d love a cup of coffee. I’m mostly powered by caffeine these days!

Amber:  We discovered your book on Instagram. How has your publication journey been? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Lilian: It’s been a lot of fun! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been really lucky because I’ve connected with a few people that have read the book and enjoyed it, both on Instagram and on Twitter. It’s been fantastic getting such nice feedback from people and hearing from them about their take on the story and the characters.

Willow: Your novel, Dormant Magick is based in Whitby like our humble shop. Why did you choose this location and what is your favourite part of town?

Lilian: I’ve always been fascinated with Whitby. I live nearby, and I visit whenever I get the chance. I’d had an idea in my head for a while about a coven of witches that use magick based around the elements, and with Whitby having such a great supernatural history it seemed like a perfect fit. There are so many beautiful places in Whitby (and most have them have made it into the book!) but I think my favourite place would have to be the beach just below West Cliff at sunset.

Willow: The arrival of the witch hunter in town gave us both nightmares. What came first your characters or plot?

Lilian: Oh no! I’m sorry about that. Alyssa, my main character, arrived more or less fully formed. My initial ideas for her ended up being almost identical to how she is in the book. I had the bare bones of the plot, but it wasn’t until I had the other three members of the coven (Oliver, Izzy and Cameron) worked out that everything really fell into place.

Amber: What is your writing routine?

Lilian: I’m a planner so I usually spend a couple of weeks developing the structure and outline before I put any of the story on paper. I’m a morning person, so when I’m actually writing I like to get an hour or two done before I start my day job.

Willow: There are times when we consider writing about our lives. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Lilian: You should, I’d love to read it! Two pieces of advice really. Firstly, don’t be afraid to write a terrible first draft because every first draft is terrible! And secondly, give yourself more time than you think you’ll need because, in my experience, every step of the process takes about three times longer than expected!

Willow: We are solitary witches but would love to join your quartet of witches in a coven. If you could choose one element for yourself what type of witch would you be?

Lilian: I’ve always been really drawn to water magick. I think it’s the links to dreams and the power of intuition that I find so interesting. You’d be welcome to join the coven any time! Maybe at one of their celebrations on the beach.

Willow: That sounds a fantastic idea, not that we need an excuse to go to the beach. The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Lilian: Definitely a good night’s sleep! I could do with more of those. Come to think of it, that might have something to do with all the caffeine!

Amber: Maybe you need one of Willow’s sleepy tea blends too. They work  a treat when I overdo the caffeine. One popular candle we stock invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Lilian: That sounds amazing! It’s a bit of a cliché but I would choose my wedding day.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity? Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Lilian: I actually have had a couple. The cellar of the building that I work in used to be a jail cell and it’s rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a man who died there. Almost everyone I know who’s been down there has either seen or heard the ghost, or at the very least has picked up on the strange energy of the place. I was down there one day, and I turned around to go through the main door (which is a really thick, heavy door that used to be the prison door so that’s a pretty spooky experience in its own right!) just in time to see a figure vanish through the wall. It has definitely influenced my writing, and I think a version of that particular story might make it into a future book!

Photo of a old chest full of potions bottles, a striped feather and other spooky memorabilia
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Willow:  We’ll keep an eye out for it. If the witches could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours what would it be and what would you do with it?

Lilian: I would go really old school and traditional and ask for something to be enchanted so that I could use it for flying! I’m quite clumsy though and I’m not entirely sure I’d trust my balance on a broomstick, so maybe a flying armchair would be more practical.

Willow: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Lilian: You’ve probably got a copy already, but ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ by V.E. Schwab is a great read.

Amber:  That’s one I need to read. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Lilian: ‘The Ex Hex’ by Erin Sterling is a really fun, romantic read.

Amber: We loved that one and will definitely check it’s there. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Lilian: I’m actually working on the sequel to ‘Dormant Magick’ at the moment. The details are still under wraps, but it’s going to pick up six months after the events in ‘Dormant Magick’ and look at the effect that the revelations have had on the witches in Whitby and in the Scarborough coven. I’m hoping to have it out in the world in time for Mabon in September.

Willow: That’s an ideal time to release a novel and you’ll have to pop back closer to the time. Thanks so much for visiting and here’s a complimentary sachet of sleepy tea for a good night sleep.

Author Biography

Lilian Brooks is a practising pagan, who lives with her partner in a little village in the north of England. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiking with her sister, hanging out with her coven, and posting pictures of her cat to social media.

‘Dormant Magick’ is her first book.

You can find out more on

Instagram @lilianxbrooks

Twitter @lilianxbrooks

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lilian-brooks

Book cover for Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks
Black background with a electric blue circle of water surrounding the book title.
Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks

Monday Merry Meet: Author Sharon Booth

It’s a new week and to help shift the Monday blues, we’re excited to host our first author visit at The Enchanted Emporium. Yes, it’s the Monday Merry Meet, and our visitor today is romance author, Sharon Booth.

Sharon has published twenty-three books, and is one of Rosa’s favourite romance authors — she’ll be here shortly I’m sure, when she has recovered from a fan girl moment – and is followed by Willow and Amber, thanks to her witchlit series based in the Yorkshire town of Castle Clair. With witch sisters and their familiars in a town where magic brews, they were hooked. With the upcoming release of her novel, it’s the perfect opportunity for a chat.

Photo of The Witches of Castle Clair series by Sharon Booth.
3 books each has a modern witch on it, 
Belle, Book and Candle is predominently purple
My Favourite Witch is orange
To Catch a Witch is blue
The Witches of Castle Clair series by Sharon Booth

Monday Merry Meet: Author Sharon Booth

Amber: Hi Sharon. Willow will be with you shortly. She’s just finishing brewing the novel dream time draught in the back. It’s a potion created by me but it has to be dealt with carefully, otherwise fumes will put you to sleep in minutes. It makes you dream about the latest book you’ve read. Ideal for romance readers who want to escape reality for a while and linger in communities where everyone pulls together, or explore lush landscapes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to linger in Castle Clair and visit the museum? It doesn’t work so well for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. I’ve had complaints about that one.

Do you want a drink? We have tea, coffee or something stronger. One of our customers brought us some homemade raspberry gin, Willow has hidden in her workroom.

Sharon: Thanks so much for inviting me to The Enchanted Emporium, Amber. All the times I’ve visited Whitby and I never knew it was here! How fabulous. I don’t suppose you have any raspberry lemonade? I’ve developed a bit of a passion for it lately. If not, coffee will be fine, thank you.

Photo of raspberry lemonade in a jug and glass. Garnished with fresh lemon slices

Amber: Sit down and don’t worry if you feel any cold patches on your back as we talk, it’s just Mrs Marley, our ghost. She adores romantic novels and will just be being nosy. It’s the ghost on the stairs you have to worry about.

Willow: Amber, stop scaring our guests.

Hi Sharon, glad you could make it and you have a drink. It’s lovely to catch up with you as we all adore your books. They are all set in Yorkshire, a place we all love. Was this a conscious decision?

Sharon: Hi, Willow. No, it wasn’t. In fact, initially, There Must Be an Angel, which was my first novel, was set in Glastonbury! But as the writing developed, I realised the voices I was hearing in my head all had Yorkshire accents, and since I’ve lived in East Yorkshire all my life (apart from those years we were in North Humberside which we don’t like to talk about as it’s still too traumatic) it made sense to set my books in a county I knew and loved. 

Willow: Both Amber and I love Castle Clair and would love to visit. How did you go about your world building to make it a vivid place for readers?

Sharon:  If I’m being really honest, I didn’t have to do a lot of world building to create Castle Clair. It was already there. It just needed a bit of tweaking! Castle Clair is based on the North Yorkshire market town of Knaresborough, quite near Harrogate, and it’s one of my favourite places. It really does have everything: ruined castle, cliffside shrine, legend of the prophetess, the beautiful river, the riverside walk, the market place, the museum in the castle grounds… There’s even an old chemist’s shop which was the inspiration for The Broom Closet. In real life it’s now a gift/sweet shop, and there really are steps in the shop leading up to The Lavender Tea Rooms, which I changed to The Rosemary Tea Rooms. All I had to do was create the legend of the St Clairs. Everything else was in place.   

Willow:  Tell us a bit about your new book.

Sharon: Will of the Witch is the fourth in The Witches of Castle Clair series. I only ever intended there to be three books, but they proved to be surprisingly popular, and I got lots of messages pleading for more. Since I loved writing them, I thought, why not? So in Will of the Witch you’ll meet three new St Clair sisters: Keely, Harley, and Romy. They never knew their Castle Clair cousins existed, and it’s a bit of a shock to them when they receive a mysterious invitation to Cornwall and discover Sirius, Star, Celeste, and Sky have all been invited too. There will be two more Castle Clair books after this one, so still lots to look forward to.  

Willow:  We can’t wait to read. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Sharon:  I’m a bit different to most of my writer friends, in that I started writing with indie publishing in mind. Finding a traditional publisher was never really on my radar. I was lucky enough to get scooped up by blogging group The Write Romantics and realised pretty quickly that most of them were looking for deals. I was too embarrassed to admit I wasn’t! Yes, I really was that person back then. So I subbed to about six publishers and got one request for the full manuscript, but by then my Write Romantic friend, Jo Bartlett, had decided to set up her own publishing company, Fabrian Books, and asked me to be her first signed author. I was delighted to accept, and Jo sent my book off to be edited and proofread, and I got to choose my cover, which was exciting. But Jo had a change of heart about running a publishing company, and after she and I, and another author, had a chat, we decided Fabrian Books should become an author collective instead. We would all indie publish our books under the Fabrian Books imprint. After a few years, I set up my own imprint, Green Ginger Publishing, and now I’m happily indie all the way. I’ve had two pocket novels, five large print books, and two audiobooks published by other publishers, but mostly it’s just me. What would I change? I’d stop dithering, thinking I really should be traditionally published to achieve anything, and realise that it’s perfectly possible to make a living and find fulfilment forging your own creative path.   

Willow: Wise words. What is your writing routine?

Sharon:  I’m kind of an all or nothing person. I’m either up early, writing furiously for hours, then sorting admin and marketing etc before finally finishing work at 7pm. Or I’m pretty much faffing around doing bits here and there and achieving nothing. I’ve stopped beating myself up about it. I know they say you should write every day, but the truth is I don’t. I still get the work done, so I’ve stopped worrying that I’m “doing it wrong”.

Willow: We have several customers who wish to write. Do you have any advice for them?

Sharon: My only real advice for writers is not to worry about most of the advice you’ll be given. There are so many “rules”, and you’ll get told frequently that “this is the way you should do it”. You have to find your own way. We’re all different. Eventually you’ll figure out the best way for you.

Rosa: What are you working on currently? Can you say, or is it top secret?

Sharon: Right now I’m working on a Christmas book. I know! We’ve had a record-breaking heatwave, and I’m sitting here with an electric fan on full blast, trying to muster some festive feeling. It’s actually the 26th book I’ll have written but will be the 25th book to be published. It’s the first in my new Tuppenny Bridge series, set in a Yorkshire Dales market town. It’s also a follow-on from my How the Other Half Lives series and will give a couple of characters some closure at last — something that so many readers have requested — although it can be read as a standalone.

Rosa: 25 books published, I need to catch up with some I’ve missed.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sell a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

A lit candle

Sharon: Ooh, that’s tricky. I think Luck. So much in life is down to luck, isn’t it? You can work your socks off, but if you don’t get lucky, it won’t make a jot of difference. Mind you, I’ll be honest and say I could do with all of those except the “help without asking” one. My kids have all left home, and my husband is an absolute star. I couldn’t do any of this without him.

Amber: One candle, when lit, invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day? Where would it take you?

Sharon: Oh, another tricky one! Maybe a holiday I had when I was little. We always had big family holidays in Primrose Valley near Filey on the North Yorkshire coast. There was me, my brother and sister, my mum and dad, grandparents, auntie, great aunts and uncles, half cousins… we were in caravans and bungalows, and we’d go to the beach together every day, visit the pub at night (peanuts and cola for us kids in a separate room, naturally) and walk along the sands to Filey for fish and chips. I remember going winkle picking on Filey Brigg with my nanna, great-aunt and sister. So many of those people are no longer with us, even my dad, so yes, I’d definitely like to invoke all those memories again.  

Image of a ghost reading a book

Amber: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Sharon: When I was little, I had a friend called David. He was a little boy, about my age, and he wore a blue dressing gown, and every evening he’d sit on the bottom stair waiting for me, and I’d float down to meet him. I can’t remember anything else about him, but I saw him so many times and told my parents about him. My mum still remembers me talking about him. I haven’t had any other really spooky experiences, but I do have the weirdest dreams. They’re fascinating, like mini movies, and some of them may feature in a future book.

Willow: Amber knows all about lucid dreams. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Sharon: Wow, you really do ask tricky questions! You know, thinking about it, I’d like absolute confidence and self-belief for 24 hours, because I’d love to know how different that would make me, and if I could achieve more with that superpower. What must it feel like to be absolutely sure of yourself and your abilities? Yes, I’d love that potion.

Willow: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Sharon: There are sooo many books I could add. I absolutely adored Threadneedle by Cari Thomas, Deborah Harkness’s Discovery of Witches, Alys West’s Beltane and Storm Witch. I love The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper, and I also love The Whitby Witches series by Robin Jarvis. Can I really only add one book? You know what, I think I’ll go for The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis, because it’s the beginning of a cracking series. It’s supposed to be for children, but I read it in my early forties and loved it. And it’s set in Whitby, so very appropriate for your bookshelf.

Willow: Good choices. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Sharon: Hmm. So many to choose from. I’d go for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, so it’s clearly made a big impact on me. I love the character of Jane. She sets herself to high standards and lives by them, and even when society looks down on her, she holds her head high and knows her own worth. She’s wonderful.

Rosa: Jane Eyre is one of the best. Do you have a favourite place to write and read?

Sharon: I mostly write in my little writing office. It’s a small bedroom that’s completely mine, with a desk and chair, sideboard, and bookcase. There are magical canvas pictures up on one wall, along with Dr Who stuff, inspirational quotes, and gorgeous cards that my friends have sent me over the years. I find it really difficult to write anywhere else, although I can do other jobs like marketing and editing anywhere, funnily enough. I can’t seem to read for long in bed, as I always fall asleep, so I prefer to read on the sofa in the living room, with my dog snoozing on the rug in front of me.

Willow: That sounds perfect. Thanks so much for dropping by and good luck with your new book, Will of the Witch out 26th July.

Sharon: I’ve really enjoyed my trip to the Enchanted Emporium, and to glorious Whitby. I hope one day I’ll find my way here again. Thank you for inviting me, and kindest regards to Mrs Marley and the other ghosts for not spooking me!

Author Biography

Photo of author Sharon Booth. Smiling woman with long blond hair.
Author Sharon Booth

Sharon Booth writes about the lighter side of life, love, magic, and mystery. Her characters may be flawed, but whether they’re casting a spell, solving a mystery, or dealing with the ups and downs of family life or romance, they do it with kindness and humour.

Sharon is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and an Authorpreneur member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. She has been a KDP All-Star Author on several occasions.

She likes reading, researching her family tree, and watching Doctor Who, and Cary Grant movies. She loves horses and hares and enjoys nothing more than strolling around harbours and old buildings. Take her to a castle, an abbey, or a stately home and she’ll be happy for hours. She admits to being shamefully prone to crushes on fictional heroes.

Her stories of love, community, family, and friendship are set in pretty villages and quirky market towns, by the sea or in the countryside, and a happy ending is guaranteed.
If you love heroes and heroines who do the best they can no matter what sort of challenges they face, beautiful locations, and warm, feelgood stories, you’ll love Sharon’s books.

You’ll find all my links here:

https://linktr.ee/sharonboothwriter

WILL OF THE WITCH (THE WITCHES OF CASTLE CLAIR 4)

https://getbook.at/cc4

Will of the Witch