April 21, 2015
We are thrilled to have author, Paula Brackston, back on the blog with an interview.
And thanks to the wonderful people at St. Martin`s Press, we are giving away one copy of
The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston!
Be sure to complete the Rafflecopter at the end of the post!
A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.
On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.
In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.
CxC: Hi Paula! Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!
PB: Thank you for inviting me.
CxC: Describe The Silver Witch in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)
PB: Two women of magic separated by a thousand years but connected by a lake of secrets. Secrets that are as deadly as they are ancient.
CxC: What was your inspiration in writing The Silver Witch? Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?
PB: On this occasion, my inspiration came from the lake. I live in the Brecon Beacons, and Llangors Lake, where the story is set, is just a few miles from my home. There have been settlements on its shores for over two thousand years, and as you might expect, it has inspired story tellers long before me! There are many myths and legends about sunken kingdoms and water horses and the lake turning red as an omen of war… rich pickings for a writer.
CxC: Tell us about the main character(s) in The Silver Witch.
PB: There are two. Tilda is a ceramic artist who comes to live in a little cottage on a hill overlooking the lake in the present day. It is a year since the tragic death of her husband, and this was the new life they were supposed to have together, so she has a lot to overcome. She is resourceful and tough, runs every day in all weathers and is used to her own company, but she tends to keep things bottled up. Living and working in such an isolated place suits her temperament, but there is a danger she will withdraw more and more. However, she finds that her new home – and particularly the lake – has a powerful effect on her. She experiences visions and acquires strange abilities that she finds disturbing and yet fascinating. To understand what is happening to her she needs to know more about the history of the lake and who lived there, so she seeks the help of a local historian, Professor Williams. Through him she meets Dylan, who becomes very important to her.
The second main character is Seren, who was a witch and a shaman in the early part of the tenth century. She was held in high esteem by her community, but they feared her too, so, like Tilda, she lived a solitary life, set apart from the villagers who lived on the shores of the lake. She is loved by Prince Brynach, who has built a palace on the crannog, the man-made island that sits upon the ancient water. Seren prophesises disaster and warns the prince, but she knows she may not be able to save him.
CxC: Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?
PB: Oh, it’s hard to choose when you are so close to the story! There are lots of scenes that made me really feel for the characters one way or another. I think one tiny scene that strikes me every time I read it (I do a lot of editing!) is where Seren is struggling to hide her own feelings for Prince Brynach. He is married, so she knows they cannot be together, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t tempted. One day he finds her gathering plants in the woods on the far side of the lake. He makes his feelings clear but she does not dare respond. She thinks:
Still I do not trust myself to speak, for a woman’s heart can be a faithless mistress of her mind, and her tongue is more than able to betray them both!
She must have suffered raw loneliness at times, so it would have been really difficult to keep turning away from a man who loved her so much.
CxC: Was there a specific part in The Silver Witch that you had an especially difficult time writing? If so, why?
PB: Really, once I have the story more or less formed in my head, and once I know the characters well, I find the book almost writes itself. That said, of course there are days when it doesn’t seem to want to get from my head to my digital page easily! The nuts and bolts of plot can usually be sorted out with careful rereading and rewriting – not the most exciting part of the process, but necessary to make the book tighter and altogether better. Sometimes it’s the strangest things that take a bit of getting right. I did have a particular issue with Tilda. She loves to run. It is part of her daily life wherever she is, and she really pines for it if something prevents her from going out. Now, I’m a walker, so I could relate to being out in the countryside and the way that influences your mood as well as your body. What was more difficult was to express the effort of running, the rhythm, the dance of it, almost. I hope I managed to convey it. Here’s an example taken from the start of the book:
Feet find firm ground, thudding into dry mud. Nike on hard earth. Breathe in. Breathe out. In on second left footfall. Out on second right. Lengthen stride, a couple of inches, no more. Pace, rhythm, run, step, the poetry of movement, of exertion.
Tilda loves to run. Tilda needs to run. Her style is loose, fluid, easy, but with power and purpose. And with every step she lets her mind overlay the beat with plump, juicy images – images she will gather together for when she returns home, a crop harvested from the amber autumn landscape through which she now runs. All her best work has been created this way. Running charges her body and her mind. If she does not run, her thoughts become composted in her head, over-heated and overcrowded, potentially fertile but unusable. Too much of a mass to be employed as separate artistic ideas. She turns off the woodland track and follows the slender path out of the trees and across the open fields.
CxC: What sort of projects do you have going on right now. Any new books coming out?
PB: I’m currently working on the sequel to The Witch’s Daughter (my first witchy book). It’s fun revisiting the characters, they have become like old friends to me. I’m really enjoying continuing their story. With luck and a following wind the book should be out in 2016.
And if readers would like something else to keep them busy between witchy books, one of my earlier novels is coming out in the US in August for the first time. Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is set in the present day and 13th century Wales, and involves the legend of Merlin, and of course there are spells and magic in that one too!
CxC: It was great having you on the blog today, Paula! We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success in your writing future!!
PB: I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, and I’d love to hear what readers think of The Silver Witch.
Paula Brackston is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, The Winter Witch,and The Midnight Witch(2014).
Paula has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. In 2007 Paula was short listed in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book ‘Nutters’ (writing as PJ Davy) was short listed for the Mind Book Award, and she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.
Paula lives in Wales with her partner and their two children.
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