interview by Michael McCarthy
April L. Wood has published two novels, both in her Season of the Witch series, which I have been mighty impressed by. The series is what’s considered urban fantasy, which is what you get when you take a contemporary setting and add supernatural elements. The series can also be described as young adult, also known as YA, since the books are about young adult characters and intended to be read primarily by people that age. Of course, that didn’t stop me from highly enjoying them, so don’t let that keep you away either.
The first book in the series is Winter’s Curse. It’s a tale about a fish out of water, in this case, a girl named Winter who has been forced to flee the north pole to go live in Springfield, Massachusetts because vicious witch hunters attacked her community. Winter figures her biggest problem will be acclimating to Springfield, Massachusetts’ less than freezing weather (she arrives just as the weather is turning warm), but soon she has a bigger problem: her grandmother loses a bet on a broom-riding contest in which she’d bet Winter’s womb. Yes, her womb! I had a hard time believing that initially. After all, what grandmother would bet her innocent granddaughter’s womb? Seems like one of the vilest things a person could do to another person, right? Well, her grandmother may or may not have ulterior motives; you’ll have to read the book to find out. What I will tell you is that Winter is a very well-written character who’s impossible not to love. The secondary characters who she befriends are all exceptional, too. The book is in the first person from Winter’s point of view and I loved her voice. The second book in the series is called Spring in Summerland and it is told from the point of view of Spring, another female witch who’s been forced to go live in Springfield to avoid witch hunters. Spring’s big dilemma isn’t her grandmother but her mother — and several other spirits. You see, Spring is an air witch and they are what Wood calls Spiritists, witches whose job it is to help spirits cross over to where they belong now. At first, Spring is terrified of these spirits. Once she gets past her fear, she still doesn’t see why it should be her responsibility to look after them. Eventually, she comes warms up to the idea, but by that time a conspiracy is revealing itself and gives her something even bigger to worry about.
The second book in the series is called Spring in Summerland and it is told from the point of view of Spring, another female witch who’s been forced to go live in Springfield to avoid witch hunters. Spring’s big dilemma isn’t her grandmother but her mother — and several other spirits. You see, Spring is an air witch and they are what Wood calls Spiritists, witches whose job it is to help lost spirits cross over to where they belong now. At first, Spring is terrified of these spirits and they are presented as being scary. Once she gets past her fear, she still doesn’t see why it should be her responsibility to look after them. Eventually, she comes warms up to the idea, but by that time a conspiracy is revealing itself and gives Spring, even more, to worry about. One of my favorite things about Spring in Summerland is that all the main characters from Winter’s Curse are back and befriended by Spring, who even goes to work for Winter. At first, I was a little bothered that it was a new character telling the story in this book and not Winter again, but Spring soon proves to be just as charming, possibly even a little bit more so, thus it didn’t take long before I fell in love with her, too.
As a Wiccan myself, I loved how Wood presented her witches in a realistic manner. Sure, the broom flying thing is the stuff of urban legend and kind of silly, but that aspect is the only far-fetched thing in her books and it’s presented more like an inside joke than anything. Otherwise, I could see just about everything else in Wood’s Season of the Witch books actually happening, which made them highly believable when I was reading them. That said, I’m sure they’re just as entertaining even if you’re not a witch and know nothing about modern witchcraft. And that’s enough of my thoughts. Now for the Q&A!
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a kid? If so, what was it and what was its name? What did you do together? (For example, mine was a panda named Ailey and we played hide and seek.)
Not only did I have an imaginary friend, but I had a whole imaginary family! I remember “Sonya” in particular, a young blonde girl about my age (maybe six or seven years old) and her brothers and sisters, father, and mother. The funny thing is that my sister would also “play” with my imaginary family.
How old were you when you started writing? Do you remember what the first story you wrote was called and how old you were when you wrote it? How long was it?
Oh, God… I wrote my first short story when I was eight years old. It was about our German Shepherd dog and our adventure walking together alongside a babbling brook. Seriously. I can remember describing this stream in great detail–the way it sounded, the small pebbles, and the temperature of the water. Here’s the best part: I wrote this story on construction paper, three-hole-punched it, and bound it together with yarn. I also slapped some contact paper on it to laminate it. I was very proud of this “book” masterpiece.
I know we both live in Massachusetts. Were you born here? If not, where were you born? Also if not, when did you move here?
Why did you decide to set your books in Massachusetts? What made you choose Springfield?
Springfield is charming in the sense that it is full of old, historic homes that just lend themselves to paranormal ghost stories. Besides being witchy, both Winter’s Curse, and Spring in Summerland are heavy on the paranormal side. The original concept for Winter’s Curse was spawned out of the real Forest Park neighborhood, where Winter and her Grandmother Iris fictitiously reside.
Is Winter’s Curse the first book you ever wrote or did you write others that are unpublished?
No, I have several other manuscripts collecting dust that came before Winter’s Curse. I am determined to find homes for them, someday. Both are adult, romance suspense novels, titledPathological Lover, and Skin for Sin —quite different from the Season of The Witch book series!
You have your own version of witchcraft in your books, which I really like. Can you talk about the different types of witch clans in your books for my readers?
Winter Rose-Thorne, a hyperborean earth witch escaped from the Terrestrial North pole, came to me first, and from her three more witches and their stories were also born. I based their personalities on the elements they were aligned with, by land and clan. For instance, Spring Widow-Tears is an eastern air witch, closely aligned to the spirits, therefore she is a spiritist.
Are your main characters, Winter and Spring, different parts of yourself on some level? If not, are they based on people you know or 100% fictional? What about the other characters?
Ha! God, no. Winter and Spring are 100% fictional and nothing like me–at least, I don’t think they are. And some characters are *loosely* based on people I know.
I would say your books fall under the “clean” young adult category. Were you trying to write clean YA when you wrote them or did they just turn out that way?
Well, I suppose the language is clean, yes, but that’s more of a reflection on how I speak. Although, I don’t use most of the slang my teenage characters use. ? Really, my target audience was a younger generation, but I’m thrilled it’s appealing to a wider audience.
Do you plan to write YA for your entire career? If not, do you have plans to write a “literary” fiction type of book at some point?
There’s a romance writer buried inside me who is just aching to get out… and she will… someday.
Did your books end the way you envisioned them ending when you started writing them or did your characters “write” a different ending?
Despite being obsessive in every aspect of my life, I don’t outline my plot ideas. I’m 100% pantser, and the story comes to me as I write it. And funny enough, I wrote Spring in Summerland backwards. I knew how I wanted it to end, and I wrote the *big* scene and rewound from there. I’m happy with how it came out.
Is there a certain time of day you usually write? How long do you usually write for before taking a break? Or do you not take any breaks when writing?
Early mornings with my coffee are a great time to write, and late at night. It just depends on whether I’m in the editing stage or writing stage. I spend more time editing than anything, so sometimes I’m on the computer all day.
Have you written any short stories or novellas or do you just write novels?
I have written a yet-to-be-published horror novella titled Brenna’s Revenge about an old, boarded up fireplace haunted by a Witch of Fire, and the unlucky couple who have just bought the house it belongs to.
Did you go to college? If so, what was your major and minor? If you didn’t go to college, have you taken other writing courses?
I went to Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, CT, where I majored in Human Services and received my certification in Phlebotomy. After I graduated, I transferred to the University of CT, where I majored in Psychology, and double-minored in English and Women’s Studies. I took tons of writing classes along the way.
Has either of your books been shown to anyone in Hollywood? I think Season of the Witch would be a great TV series.
Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! And no, I have no Hollywood connections, sadly. ?
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
To start a blog. BEST. ADVICE. EVER. My blog has connected me with so many writers, (indie and traditionally published), bloggers, and even publishers!
Visit April’s Book Review and More Blog: A Well Read Woman
Extra special thanks to April for taking the time to complete this interview! I’m dying to read the next Season of the Witch book already!