Monday Merry Meet: Kate Johnson

Welcome to the last Monday of September. With celebrations of Mabon over, the staff at the Emporium are gearing up for the busiest times of the year, Halloween. Where as Willow used to have a subtle approach to the season, under Amber’s influence and Rosa’s romantic view of the Halloween decorations have exploded this year. Amidst the chaos, they are delighted to catch up with author Kate Johnson. Her latest novel, The Hex Appeal was loved by everyone and provided chuckles and endless imagination on every page.

Amber sees it as a blueprint of how a witch should live without the constraints of normality while Willow thinks she has enough to contend with with the clashes between Vincent and the resident ghost feline, never mind flying glass parrots.

Monday Merry Meet: Kate Johnson

Cobwebs at old window
Image by Myri Roet from Pixabay

Willow: Hi Kate. It’s so lovely to see you. Mind your head when you come through to the back, Amber attempted to talk to the spiders to make extra cobwebs for Halloween decorations and they’ve taken it to the extreme. It’s like walking into Shelob’s lair. She has convinced them to depart the Emporium while we chat, just in case you are arachnophobic.

Kate: That’s fine. You should see my house. The spiders are both entertainment and food for the kittens.

Willow: That sounds mayhem. Rosa’s putting the kettle on. What would you like to drink? We have a range of teas, including Yorkshire, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger? We had a good harvest of damsons last year so have some damson gin.

Kate: Damson gin will do nicely, thanks.

Amber: We’ve all read your new novel, Hex Appeal and were blown away by your world building in Beldam House. It was full of small details that made the house feel alive. Did you have as much fun writing this book as it appears on the page?

Kate: So much fun! I sat back and thought about the things you get in witch stories, and the things that had been weird or amusing to me recently, and then just… amplified them. I started growing carnivorous plants in the first lockdown, and they can be quite spectacular. So they had to go in the book. And I really liked the idea of a house that changed to suit your needs, like the house in Encanto (and how’s this for a sign: my new kittens were nicknamed the Encanto kittens by the RSPCA: it was meant to be!). The village of Good Winter is a mixture of the village where I live and others around it—even the names aren’t entirely out of the realms of possibility: we have a Good Easter and a Cold Christmas, and there’s a Beldam’s Lane and Gall End (that being short for gallows) around here too.

Willow: They’re fantastic names. Essie and her family are a fantastic group of witches, each with their unique abilities. What came first in the writing process, characters or plot?

Characters, always. I spent a while thinking about Essie and her backstory, and Josh and his, and how the two would come together, clash, push and pull each other. I kind of thought of the household a bit like What We Do In The Shadows: a disparate group of people who only have one thing in common, but it’s a really big thing, so it’s what binds them. As for plot… I never usually plot. I just went, “Blah blah, Witchfinder General, great evil threatens the earth, somehow they’ll fix it, now on with the witty banter!”

Amber: He brings us to the next question. The threat in Hex Appeal is based on the Essex witch trials and the general witchfinder. What made you choose this part of history as the novel’s foundation?

Kate: Well, he’s the most famous person associated with witches hereabouts. Essex has a strong association with witches, and in fact more people were executed as witches in Essex than any other English county. This is almost entirely down to Matthew Hopkins, who was less a witchfinder than a con artist who profited from the persecution of helpless people, mostly women, and didn’t care much that they could—and often did—end up being hanged. It honestly amazed me that he isn’t considered a serial killer. The number of deaths he’s responsible for is in the hundreds.

An etching of Matthew Hopkins the General Witchfinder. Man wearing tall hat, breeches and moustache and short pointy beard.
Mathew Hopkins The General Witchfinder

Willow: We agree.  Evil man. I’ve also read Little Haunting by the Sea about the relationship between Jen and a Victorian child only she can see. Have you had any paranormal experiences and has that influenced you work?

You’d expect so, but no! But then again I have fierce protection. A while ago one of my cats sat on the sofa beside me, and really took umbridge at a patch of empty air a foot or so in front of her. Hissing and growling like mad. Then she suddenly stopped and began to purr. Now, was she fighting off an invisible demon for me? She’ll never tell.

black kitten hissing
Image by ktphotography from Pixabay

Amber: She sounds a good protector. We’re gearing up to celebrate Halloween, is it something you celebrate or avoid?

Kate: Unsurprisingly, I absolutely love Halloween! I always have. I take my costuming quite seriously and have an impromptu lecture prepared for when people tell me “It’s all very American,” because my friend, it’s more British than queuing in the rain to see the Queen. In fact it’s the origins of Halloween that form an important plot point in Hex Appeal: the festival of Samhain, which wasn’t always a fixed date but fell at the midpoint between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. It’s very much the nightfall of the year, when there is more dark than light and the cold settles in for the winter.

Rosa: We love being nosy. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Oh… long. Recently at a writing event the chair of the panel referred to me as the “longest-serving” and none of us could work out how many books I’d written (including me). I started writing for small presses, then slightly larger ones, then larger still. There have been a few small disasters, but nothing I really regret doing.

 I think the only change I’d make to that journey was holding my horses a bit when I first began submitting, because none of those books were remotely ready! I’m very glad self-publishing wasn’t around back then, because I’d probably have thrown up some very green books and set myself back.

Amber: I like to dabble in writing. What advice would you give new writers?

Kate: It’s like any craft: you’ve got to put the hours in. Read everything in your chosen genre (and outside it too!) and write lots. Be prepared to discard a lot, and I mean a lot. Be sensitive to the world around you but develop a thick skin for criticism.

Willow: 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?

Kate: Ooh. A good night’s sleep. Or confidence. (Do you have one that helps with indecision?)

Amber: Now that would be a bestseller. We have a candle that invokes memories of your perfect season? Where would it take you?

Kate: Autumn. A proper crisp autumn, where it’s cold enough to wear a pretty coat and a cute hat. Crunchy leaves underfoot, the scent of woodsmoke in the air, a cosy blanket in the evenings. Bliss!

Autumnal coloured maple leaves
Image by Shirley Hirst from Pixabay

Willow: I agree with you there. 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?

You know what, I’d like a potion that helps me learn things really quickly. So I could play the piano, speak fluent French, understand the causes of WWI, that kind of thing. So long as I don’t lose the memories after 24 hours!

Willow: Losing all that knowledge would be cruel. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is always on the lookout for new books. What book would you add to it?

Kate: Jessica Thorne’s The Water Witch. It weaves in wonderful Breton folklore with a modern romance. I love Jessica’s books (also check out her Ruth Frances Long YA titles, which are brilliant and include English and Irish folklore).

Rosa: I’ve seen The Water Witch on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf and She’s rumoured to be popping in soon. I adore romance novels and have a box full of them to share with customers. What would you add to it?

Kate: My absolute favourite romance author is Jennifer ruise. I pick her up whenever I need to remember how to be funny. I also want to recommend Jeevani Charika, who writes lovely warm romcoms with British Asian characters.

Willow: Finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Kate: Hex Appeal has been such a whirlwind I haven’t started work on a new book yet—but I have a couple of projects on the back burner. I’m hoping to do more paranormal romance, but exactly what flavour…? We’ll see.

Willow: Thanks for visiting and if Essie, Blessing, Avery, Maude, or even Lilith are in the area, please tell them to pop in. We will have lots to talk about.

Kate: If Lilith pops in, I apologise in advance.

Willow: Ha ha we’ll have to make provisions for that outcome. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Johnson. Smiling white woman with pink wavy hair
Kate Johnson

Kate Johnson is a Romantic Novel of the Year Award-winning author of romantic, mystery, and science fiction and not a stack of cats inside a raincoat, as many people believe. Kate lives in Essex with a small pride of cats, and writes books because actually being a space pirate, witch or murderer sounds like hard work.

Social media

Twitter, instagram & TikTok: @K8johnsonauthor

Facebook: @catmarsters

Book cover for The Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson. Dark purple backgound, white font entwined with green foliage. A cottage is at the bottom and a dungaree wearing woman is on the upper right side while a man is on the left looking at her
The Hex Appeal by Kate Johnosn

Blurb

Encanto meets Hocus Pocus in this perfect witchy romcom. An absolute must-read if you love Erin Sterling’s The Ex Hex and Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch!

It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus…

Essie Winterscale lives in a huge and ever-changing house in the village of Good Winter, in deepest, darkest Essex. She lives with various witches of various ages, one of whom is still a bit salty about having been burned at the stake in 1635, one who keeps accidentally casting fertility spells, and one who knits things that create the future.

All Essie ever wanted was to have a normal life but in the end she found herself drawn back to Beldam House because she just can’t stop her witchiness (although the ability to instantly chill wine is pretty awesome, even she has to admit).

Into this coven of chaos stumbles gorgeous, clueless Josh, their new landlord – and he’s just discovered his tenants haven’t paid rent since the 1700s! As Josh is drawn further into the lives of the inhabitants of Beldam House, Essie is determined to keep him at broomstick’s length. That is, until a family secret, lying hidden for centuries, puts Josh firmly under her spell…

‘Funny, smart and sassy…No one creates such brilliant worlds quite like Kate does’ Julie Caplin

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: Kat Chant

Logo for Kat Chant. Kat is vertical in purple elaborate font. Chat is horizontal and the C is a crescent moon with ivy climbing it. It's beautiful

Today, we’re thrilled to host debut writer Kat Chant. Her novel God of Summer is released next week, 12th September and is available to pre-order at a discounted price for buyers on Amazon! Scroll down for the link

Monday Merry Meet: Kat Chant

Hi Kat, welcome to the Enchanted Emporium. Come through to the back. Did you find us okay? We’ve had problems with a disgruntled customer, so the shop is on the defensive. It keeps hiding itself when people walk by. Not handy when we have a business to run.

What would you like to drink? We’ve a full selection of teas from Yorkshire tea, Earl Grey to matcha. Many herbal tisanes. Coffee, or  something stronger?

I’m an herbal tisane fan, so any chance of a Pukka tea? Otherwise, anything with cinnamon or cardamom because I’m into spicy!

Willow: We may have some Pukka tea kicking about but if you like spicy, why not try some of our own blend, Autumnal Cosy Chai? The black tea is blended with ginger, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and hits the spot on these cooler evenings. It’s one of our top sellers as we head into Halloween. I’ll get you some.

Amber: Don’t be fooled by the word cosy, that tea has a kick but people like it. Your debut is out next week. How are you feeling?

<Laughs nervously> Excited. Also faintly nauseated. I mean, people I don’t know are going to read this book. People I know will usually say something polite or nice….

Willow:  I’m sure you’ll be fine and other readers will see the magic. We’ve all read the blurb and not only does the hero on the cover look swoonsome, and the premise of a Celtic god coming to the modern world is intriguing. What was your inspiration?

My husband claims he’s my inspiration and he’s… not wrong? After all, he was a tour guide at Newgrange, the home of said Celtic god, which gave me a lot of insider knowledge. But the inspiration was really the question: the Irish god of love was supposed to live there. If he’s still around, why would he show himself now?

Willow: We’ll be reading the book to find out why.  The novel involves a banshee attack which is an uncommon mythical creature to write about. What attracted you to them? Did you do extensive research for this novel?

Banshees are that rare mythical creature people in Ireland still admit to, um, hearing. (Seeing, not so much.) I love that there’s still a thread of mysticism there that hasn’t died, and I’ve tried to respect that in my story. The locals have a pretty good idea of who my Celtic god is, but they keep their distance—just like in earlier days, you’d mind what you said about the Good People whether you believed in them or not, because it wasn’t worth the bad luck if you were wrong.

This takes me to a related story… When Newgrange—the 5,200-year-old temple/tomb where my story is set—was excavated in the 1960s, the locals insisted light used to shine inside the hill and illuminate the trispiral (the design on my hero’s chest). The archaeologists dismissed this until they checked the midwinter alignment and went, hang on… So, Professor O’Kelly, who led the dig, sat in the chamber and waited, and lo and behold, the sunlight comes in through its very own VIP entrance as a beam of light that penetrates the utter darkness until it’s bright enough inside to see the stunned faces of those around you.

That last part was my own reaction because my boyfriend at the time gave me his place one midwinter solstice and I had the privilege of witnessing this truly magical event myself. This is the part where I say: reader, I married him.

Does that also answer the question on research? Sort of? I might have also spent about twenty years absorbing Irish culture while investigating every piece mythology to do with the Tuatha Dé Danann I could find, while also nicking all my husband’s archaeology books.

Amber: That’s a lot of research and you must have enough info to write many books.

Willow: And archaeologists should have learnt by now to trust what the locals say. They often know more than they are given credit for. You’re a bookworm as well as a writer. Do you have a favourite place to read and does this differ from your writing space?

Since libraries have always been my safe space, naturally I’ve created one of my own. My office is a teeny tiny room that is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling filled with Billy bookcases. I’ve tried to create a reading nook by my window but it’s not very comfy. Hmm, I really need one of those hanging egg chairs, stuffed with cushions to properly nestle in.

Willow: That sounds a bookworm’s dream apart from the uncomfy chair. I’ve often considered a hanging chair myself, though Vincent may not like it or if it was a cane one, he’d shred it to pieces. Cats and weaved furniture never mix well.

Hanging egg chair with a cushion on it
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Several customers tell us their life stories and some of them would make wild, fantastical novels. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Writing is like parenthood. Everyone is ready to give advice about how to do it ‘properly’, but you have to find what works for you.

Willow: Good advice. 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?

It’s tempting to take the Focus candle because I can be scatty, but you know what? I want (good) Luck, because while I do believe persistence pays off, it’s the lucky breaks that lift you to the next level.

The word luck with horseshoe as the u and a four leave clover
Image by Gerhard from Pixabay

Willow: Listening to authors that pop in it does seem serendipity places a role in some cases though it can’t happen if you’ve not written the book in the first place. It requires a particular sort of dedication and mindset.

Amber: That Willow doesn’t have despite liking the idea of writing. The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity? Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing.

<Nods in sympathy> Oh yes, my husband and I (don’t I sound like the queen?) used to live in a 300-year-old farmhouse. Before we took it on, a lot of the guides used to stay the summer there and move on. At least one said she wouldn’t stay because of the resident ghost. He dwelt on the third step from the bottom of the staircase—so he could observe the main room vet who went upstairs. After a couple of years living there, I lost my temper with him being all judgy and told him if he didn’t like us living there, he could move on. That seemed to settle him for a bit. I think ghosts like to be acknowledged.

I put him into an early draft of God of Summer, but he didn’t stick. Hopefully, he’ll find a place in another story, another day.

Illustration of a ghost reading a ghost story

Willow: Ghosts do like to be acknowledged though some are awkward. We have a cold patch on the stairs we believe is a ghost, but no amount of cajoling makes it appear. It just freezes your bones as you walk past.

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

Easy – Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s chock full of witches, sacred gardens, curses and foretelling, but everything comes with a twist. I adore it.

Amber: We need that book. It’s on my TBR list now it sounds ideal, and I can’t believe I’ve not heard of it.  What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Another easy one— The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. This is a proper Rom Com with enemies-to-lovers and every word flows.

Willow: Another good choice. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

I’ll tell you so I have to do it: I’m writing a prequel novella to God of Summer, currently titled Heart of Darkness.

Willow: We’ll be cheering you on to finish it and you’ll have to come back when it’s being released. Thank you for visiting and here is some tea to take with you and a focus spell candle – we need to know more about Angus.

About Kat Chant

Phot of Kat Chant wearing a sleeveless red dress leaning on her hands. She is a white woman with long dark straight hair
Kat Chant

Kat Chant is an award-winning writer. A bookworm who grew into a history buff, she exchanged beaches for castles move from Australia to the UK. There, she fell in love with a lad from Ireland…and fell in love with his country, too.

She and her family live in the heart of Ireland, surrounded by fields in forty shades of green.

God of Summer

Book cover for God of Summer by Kat Chant. The font is is god and the Aztec style edging of the book is also gold.
A handsome muscly bare chested man has a trispiral tattoo on his chest, long brown hair and he is looking up at a ray of sunshine
God of Summer by Kat Chant

Back in the Bronze Age, Angus McCraggan sacrificed his life to break the Celtic curse laid on his kind. He failed. Millennia later, he returns to modern Ireland to find his people have become feral, vengeful shadows. With his hollow hill now packed with tourists, he uses his power to keep his past hidden.

Until an American calls him out.

Since a banshee attacked her as a teen, Erin De Santos has been tormented by dreams of a boy she’s never met. Armed with a new identity, she returns to the Emerald Isle determined to face her nightmare. But her discovery turns fatal.

When the banshee strikes again, Angus surrenders his heart—and his hope of freeing his people—to save her. With his life now hers and his curse descending, Erin must make a terrible choice: kill her saviour or share his doom.

Social Media Links

Web                      https://www.katchant.com

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

Instagram            https://www.instagram.com/katchantauthor/

Pinterest              https://www.pinterest.com/KatrinaChantAuthor/god-of-summer/   

Twitter @katchantauthor / https://twitter.com/katchantauthor

TikTok                   https://www.tiktok.com/@katchantauthor

Bookbub              https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kat-chant

https://www.bookbub.com/books/god-of-summer-by-kat-chant

Goodreads         https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22710441.Kat_Chant

Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Today we’re thrilled to have YA fantasy author, Emma Bradley visit. She has just released the third book in the Arcanium series, The Issue with Fairies which follows Demi, the only fairy in her family as she trains at the Arcanium, a prestigious of fairy organisations and battles those who are intent on overthrowing the Queen of Faerie. Amber’s review for the first book The Trouble with Fairies is here.

Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Willow: Hi, Emma. Come through to the back and Amber will pop the kettle on. What do you fancy to drink? We have tea of all descriptions, coffee or something stronger? Just be careful where you step. Inspired by your books, Amber tried a spell to communicate with fae and we now have an explosion of toadstools and fairy rings inside the shop.

Emma: This sounds so much fun! And yes, the toadstools will likely vanish during Faerie hour, but the fairy rings are immovable once they set up roots, so just leave little offerings of Jelly Babies and they’ll do you no harm! I will take a coke zero and also a job application form…

Amber: If Willow let me read the old grimoires she has under lock and key, I wouldn’t have to resort to experimenting and getting it wrong.

Willow: They’re locked away for a reason. I don’t want to imagine what chaos would happen if you read them. Emma doesn’t want to hear all this.

Emma: (I really do!)

Amber: Your books are popular with visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf. I fell in love with the Arcanium and the dilapidated amusement arcade façade. Can you tell us about how the series came about?

Emma: Absolutely! I tend to do my worldbuilding before all else until the world is almost a character in its own right, and I imagined the Atrium first, just the mayhem and chaos and noise. I think the golden lifts were there as well, but the ivy walls came later (and also have some small relevance to the series now). Then I wondered what it would be like to have a completely random entry-point from the human world, like Diagon Alley or the Empire State Building. I live by the coast and there’s an arcade I walk past which is always empty yet always open, so this made total sense – how do they earn a living if there’s nothing ‘other’ going on? So Arcanium existed first, but for a long while Demi was actually the side-kick. Luckily she shouted the loudest and managed to take the top billing, and the rest of the series and plot sort of knit itself from there!

Willow: Demi is a relatable and likable protagonist but Leo is a star. What made you choose a chameleon as a character rather than any other animals?

Emma: He’s such a huge favourite with readers! I remember reading about chameleons during the whole Demi becoming the main character stage and thinking how cool it would be for her to have a pet. He was originally a snake that could breathe fire, but then I was reading about chameleons and figured the changeling aspect was very fae. Leo especially has very interesting depths what with him being from Faerie, but he’s still growing and developing his awesomeness.

Amber: Trevor adores jelly babies. What’s your favourite writer’s snack?

Emma: Mine would definitely be Skittles, although I don’t have them too often these days. I have a serious coke zero addiction though, so nine times out of ten there’ll be a can somewhere nearby! Strangely, it seems to calm me down rather than hype me up on caffeine, so I find it helps with focus when writing.

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

Emma: I started out writing pony stories at the tender age of 9. They were awful, but in my teens I moved onto loving fantasy and have been dreaming myself away ever since. The logical option was to start writing them all down, and all I wanted to be when I was younger was the next Sir Terry, Neil Gaiman or Anne Rice. I don’t think I’d change anything on my writing journey though, but I would definitely recommend anyone going into publishing a book (trad or indie) to focus on promotion and marketing very early on in the process. I think there are some traditionally published authors who still get a lot of help, advertising done and events set up for them, etc. but with self-publishing, it’s all down to you. I love the control element of that, but it can get a bit overwhelming when there’s nobody to fall back on if things get hectic or tough. This is why the writing community is an absolute treasure overall though, as everyone’s been so lovely!

Amber: Great role models. The Enchanted Emporium loves all of them. What is your writing routine? And do have a favourite writing or reading place?

Emma: My routine is basically write notes in any spare gaps, draft in evenings and downtime, and edit when you absolutely can’t avoid it any longer. I’ve now also mastered the art of convincing myself that I’m not actually editing, I’m just rereading because I love the characters so much and tweaking as I go. And in all great honesty my bed is my favourite place to write – curl up with my many pillows, my dog and a coke zero on ice and simply lose myself in whatever story I’m working on!

Willow: We have several customers who are writers. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Emma: A first draft doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to really make 100% sense. It’s literally just you getting the shape of the story and the odd bits of dialogue out of your head and onto the page. Writing can be daunting when you think of it as this great project and start wondering ‘can I even do this’, but of course you can. Anyone can. That first draft won’t likely get you an agent or tons of readers, but you work on it, hone it, change it, dramatically pretend to bin it a million times, and slowly it takes shape. If you put the work in, and writing is a lot of work if you intend to write for publication, the story will come. I know there are also a lot of people who just want to write for fun, but I think this is how we should all start. Explore, experiment, play with it!

Willow: 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?

Emma: I’m terrible with choices! I think I’m getting better with my ability to say no, and I sleep okay, so I suppose I’d choose the confidence one – to see what that would feel like. Most of my ‘writing self’ is online, which is much easier to handle and project confidently than in real life, so a confidence candle might just give me the boost to do more outside type things too!

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

Emma: I’m trying to think of something, maybe from childhood, but I recently got back from a Barcelona holiday and I would give anything to go back right now, but maybe with my dog. To nearest the estate agents! Or I would go back to one of the lazy summer days from my teens where all I did was read and write and still believed the magic places I was reading about could maybe be real somehow.

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

Emma: I think even the ghosts and ghouls would look at me and say ‘eh, too much flapping’ – I once went to the London Dungeon and was so paranoid about people jumping out that I screamed at a half-costumed woman coming out of a store room, startled the life out of her. We did do the whole ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ thing at a sleepover once though, and the girl did get fairly high in the air before we freaked out and dropped her. I also use tarot cards and pendulum for meditative thought fairly often – no guarantee there’s anyone listening or guiding, but you never know…

Willow: I’ve never attempted group levitation but people have varying results and you’ll have to browse our selection of tarot and oracle cards before you leave. They’re useful tools. 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?

Emma: The ultimate question, and I still don’t have an answer! I’ve done flying in Virtual Reality before and that was an amazing sensation, so I think I’d say flying. Ooh no, I would be able to know any language. I’ve been agonising about learning Finnish recently and also now want to learn Spanish, so being able to do that superpower-style would be amazing.

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

Emma: Oh, there are so many great fantasy books out – Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw) was a brilliant YA read with a 90s vibe and New Orleans vampires. The Autumn Moonbeam (Emma Finlayson-Palmer) books promise to be great for younger readers and I’m sure Toby and the Silver Blood Witches (Sally Doherty) needs no introduction! Also, The Unadjusteds trilogy (Marisa Noelle) is dystopian but the genetic engineering fantasy element worked really well. Ooh and look out for Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) – technically adult but works well for the YA readers who like Throne of Swans and similar! Okay, I got carried away…

Willow:  Our reading list has just got bigger. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Emma: *Inserts shameless plug for Arcanium book #3 without giving any spoilers!* I think fantasy and romance often go hand in hand, something about the wide-ranging ability of being able to dream maybe. Keeping it clean, I think the relationship in Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) was lovely, and I’m really excited there’s going to be a second book. Same with Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw). Sometimes I do go back to reread old favourites as well though, and the last one of those was the Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr) series which has multiple romantic plotlines!

Willow: More books to try and self promo is more than allowed. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Emma: The plot is top secret, but I can say that I’m focusing on the final two books (4 and 5) of the Arcanium series, plus some adult fantasy. I’ve also been writing a portal fantasy series of 4 trilogies which has wavered between adult and YA for years, so I’m hoping to focus on those and get those published next. But Arcanium first, although once people read book 4 they might not be talking to me… (it resolves in book 5 I promise!)

Amber: They sound great and you’ll have to pop by again with updates.

Willow: You must. Thanks for the chat and here’s some complimentary tea that tastes just like cola and an application form. I’ll keep you on file in case of emergencies or Amber breaks more rules than usual.

Author Biography

Photo of Emma Bradley white woman smiling with hair scraped back into a ponytail. Wearing a black hoodie.
Emma Bradley

Emma lives on the UK south coast with her husband, her plant collection and a very lazy black Labrador who occasionally condescends to take her out for a walk. Aside from creative writing studies, an addiction to cereal and spending far too much time procrastinating on social media, Emma is still waiting for the arrival of her unicorn. Or a tank, she’s not fussy.

Social Media

Website: www.emmaebradley.com

Twitter, TikTok: @emmaebradley

Instagram: @emmabradleybooks 

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