My latest published book is out now! It’s called Overdues and Occultism and I wrote it as part of the Witchy Fiction project. The project was conceived by a handful of New Zealand speculative fiction authors as a kind of balm for 2020. We all wanted to make something optimistic, something fun and something set locally. So we all came up with ideas for witches, where they live in New Zealand and the basics of plot and got to it.
Overdues was written after the strictest round of lockdowns New Zealand had, in June. I found lockdown pretty hard, the uncertainty and the fear for my friends and family took a toll on my creative output. In June things were starting to look up, so I poured myself into my memories of being a librarian in a public library (1997 – 2006 ish) and the things I love about my adopted home city of Auckland and got to it.
The project has worked incredibly smoothly, we agreed to use the same cover artist to give the books a uniformity, despite the variations in subject matter. We also covered editing, proofing and continuity checking for each other – each book was read through by two other Witchy Fiction authors, changes made, and then a third Witchy Fiction author did the proofs. We did all the formatting as an exchange programme as well, and some of our books have cute graphics for the end of chapter breaks.
It’s been a wonderful community, and a genuinely fun thing to be involved in. Mine is the latest out, but there are more to come, and some are releasing well into next year, so I recommend you sign up to the Witchy Fiction mailing list if you want to be kept up to date.
All that being said, Overdues and Occultism wasn’t the easiest manuscript for me to write. I’m used to writing with alternating viewpoints, and one of the rules we have for the project is close third person, on the witch character only. I also had trouble because my main character, Basil, is an introvert, and I’m really not. It was trickier than normal to get into his head and accurately reflect his reactions to things without letting my natural extroversion in.
I’m also aware that witchcraft is a real practise that I do not do, so I didn’t want to get anything wrong or make something jarring for a reader who is closer to the craft than I am. My solution for this was to make Basil a sort of lapsed witch. He grew up with witchy and enthusiastic parents, as a teen he came to feel that he knew it all, so when he got to adulthood he let it slide, knowing he had a solid foundation to come back to. That attitude felt relatable to me, personally, and also allowed me to write him freaking out about not being ‘witchy enough’.
My love interest character, Sebastian, is very dear to my heart. He’s an extrovert like me, and he is based on a number of roleplaying characters I’ve played over the years. He’s a paranormal investigator with a YouTube channel who’s been travelling around New Zealand’s most haunted spots trying to find evidence of the supernatural. His character also gave me a quick and easy way to slip in some Easter egg style references to some of the other books in the project.
Even though this book didn’t come as quick and easy to me as some of my other works, I’m very proud of it. And look at that gorgeous cover!
Here’s the blurb:
A witch in the broom closet probably shouldn’t be so interested in a ghost hunter, right?
That Basil is a librarian comes as no surprise to his Mt Eden community. That he’s a witch? Yeah. That might raise more than a few eyebrows.
When Sebastian, a paranormal investigator filming a web series starts snooping around Basil’s library, he stirs up more than just Basil’s heart.
Between Basil’s own self-doubt, a ghost who steals books and Sebastian, an enthusiastic extrovert bent on uncovering secrets, Basil’s life is about to get a lot more complicated.