Hi Dark Phantom, it’s been almost a year since I last joined you for a chat about my writing life. I’m really glad to be back today to tell you more about my research into witches and the witch hunts that sparked the idea for Illicit Magic and the Stella Mayweather series.
The Salem witch trials are well known for the brutality and ignorance. Many of us have heard of this period of history and the barbaric way of “encouraging” confessions. I asked myself what if the witches were really magical beings and what if the witch hunts were really to eradicate actual witches? What would happen if the years interceding then and now were quiet with no signs of witches, then suddenly there was another uprising? Would people be horrified at the accusation or the existence of witches, or neither… would they believe and be behind the witch hunts?
What surprised me most about my research was finding that a similar witch hunt had occurred in the English village of Pendle some 80 years before. Eleven people were charged with murder by witchcraft; ten were found guilty, including four members of the same family after being testified against by the nine-year-old daughter of a family, a legal precedent at the time. Pendle Hill only reappeared in the news recently when the site was being developed and a witch’s cottage was discovered along with relics of witchcraft. This period of English history is largely unknown but readers probably won’t be surprised to find that given the circumstances, Pendle has ties to Salem. Indeed, the evidence provided at Pendle was used by magistrates in Salem and it was the Pendle case that allowed the testimony of children, a crucial part of the evidence-giving eighty years later.
Finding that the Salem witch trials had roots in England was an amazing discovery for me, especially as Illicit Magic is very much a transatlantic story with roots in London and the (fictional) Yorkshire village of Hawksley, and across the pond, New York and the (fictional) US town Wilding.
That said, I didn’t want Stella Mayweather’s story to be a historical novel or too mired in the tragedy. Though the facts gave me a starting point and sparked the “what if?” questions, the novels are an adventurous romp with magic, mystery and intrigue. Though the magical powers are made up, other research involves reading up on common symbols in witchcraft so more familiar folklore lies alongside the new elements.
By Camilla Chafer
More than three hundred years after the most terrifying witch hunts the world has ever known, it’s happening again.
Racing from attack by the ruthless Brotherhood in London to the powerful witch council in New York, twenty-four-year-old novice witch Stella has to put her faith in strangers just to stay alive but she might not be any safer in their midst than from the danger she is running from.
Sent to an extraordinary safe house by the sea to learn her craft, Stella finds there is more than one dark secret in her new family: Étoile’s sister is spoken of in fear and sadness; Marc is supposed to be a powerful witch but is missing his magic; where does the owner of their safe house vanish to every day and why does Evan have the eyes of someone not quite human?
Amazon UK Top 10 contemporary fantasy bestseller
Amazon US Top 45 fantasy bestseller
Amazon US Top 50 contemporary fantasy bestseller
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/mzGZrI
Hi, I’m Camilla and I’m the author of the Stella Mayweather Series, an urban fantasy/mystery. The series starts with Illicit Magic and a lonely young woman, Stella, who has been caught up in a terrifying witch hunt and is whisked thousands of miles away to what she thinks is safety to learn her craft. The series is a blend of magic, mystery and romance with a splash of humour – and while the girls really do go all out to save themselves, there’s always a hunky guy or two on hand to help them out. The series continues with Unruly Magic and Devious Magic, both out now.
I live in London, England, but I try to travel as often as I can – I’ve been all over the US and Europe. In my day job I’m a journalist and editor so I write for magazines, newspapers and websites throughout the world (my favourite assignment was spending a week riding rollercoasters – if you listen carefully you can probably still hear me screaming) but writing fiction has always been my first love.