Please welcome Katie Schickel to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Housewitch was published on February 17th by Forge.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Katie: My first job out of college was as a reporter for a daily newspaper in Upstate New York. It's one of the best jobs I've ever had. Every day was exciting. I stumbled upon a class in my senior year of college called Intro to Journalism that led me down that path.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Katie: I was a pantser for HOUSEWITCH, and a plotter for my next book. I have to say that plotting is a much more efficient way to go for me. There's always wiggle room with an outline, but planning the story cuts way back on revision time.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Katie: So many things are challenging for me! I guess finding the emotional reality of each character is something I'm always struggling with. I like to write action, and often have to remind myself about the internal struggles of my characters.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Katie: I turn to the classics a lot — Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, O'Connor, Salinger. I have too many favorite contemporary authors to list, but I'll pick up anything by Elin Hilderbrand, Liane Moriarty, Kate Atkinson, Elizabeth Strout, Jojo Moyes, Hugh Howey, Suzanne Collins.
TQ: What inspired you to write Housewitch? What appealed to you about writing in about witches in a contemporary setting?
Katie: I was a stay-at-home mom trying to write a novel about an alien smuggling ring in South Florida. The book was truly awful. After about four years of working on it, I tossed it, and decided to go back to the concept of "write what you know." I knew a lot about the culture of domestic perfection and motherhood in suburban America. The witchcraft element of the story is really secondary to the idea of raising a family and trying to fit in.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Housewitch?
Katie: I intentionally didn't do much research on witchcraft because when you start looking up witchcraft in the late 20th and 21st centuries, you end up talking about Wicca. Wicca is a religion and I didn't want to misrepresent anyone's religion. The challenge was to create a fresh spin on witchcraft, and to figure out how the magic actually worked.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Katie: Aurora came very naturally to me. For some reason, I love writing quirky older women. Allison was the hardest. I'm like her in many ways, and it's hard to bare your soul.
TQ: What's next?
Katie: I've just finished my second book, (working title MER), which is about a mermaid. It will be released in 2016 by Forge. I worked as a dive master, dive instructor, and editor of a dive magazine for many years and spent a lot of time under water, so it was really fun to write!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Forge, February 17, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
Former foster child, now a stay-at-home mom of three, Allison Darling desperately wants to fit in with the latte drinking and hundred-dollar-yoga-pants wearing moms that run Monrovia, her charming seaside town. Constantly feeling like an outsider, Allison dreams of more for her children.
When Allison’s estranged mother passes away, her previously dormant special talents emerge. Soon she is reunited with the family that abandoned her and learns of their heartbreaking legacy.
At the same time, the Glamour Girls, a soap-selling company run by the most popular women in Monrovia, recruits Allison to join them. They have a monopoly on everything in town, from bake sales to businesses deals. But once you’re a Glamour Girl, there’s no going back.
Suddenly caught between the rag-tag, hippie relatives she once so desperately wanted and the rich, charismatic Glamour Girls—Allison is unsure where she fits in. Could she come to trust the strange outcast family that abandoned her, or really hang with the most powerful, glamorous women in town?
For Allison, it’s like high school all over again, except this time, the mean girls have more than killer manicures and the nobodies aren’t sulking in the band hall. They’re adults. They’ve got husbands, children, and livelihoods on the line. And they also happen to be witches.
Allison’s decision to lend her powerful magical talents to either group will change Monrovia—and Allison—forever.