Posts Tagged ‘Camilla Chafer’

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.

Illicit Magic

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? 

There is only one secret that someone will do anything to keep quiet, but whose secret is it and will Stella have to pay the price for silence? 

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

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/iFNS1c
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/lX5PLb
Nook: http://bit.ly/jmrAO9
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/iEShAn

Author bio: 

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. 

Web links: 

Website: www.camillachafer.com

Blog: www.camillachafer.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CamillaChafer

Twitter: @camillawrites 


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Camilla Chafer is a freelance journalist, non-fiction book writer (and editor) and debut novelist. She’s written for dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the world on a wide range of issues from politics and technology to education and lifestyle. At times she’s worked as a copywriter, book editor, blogger and something dull in central government that she can’t tell you about. A graduate of the University of Leeds, with degrees in European Politics and Security and Defence Analysis, Camilla now lives in London, UK with her family and geriatric cat.

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m Camilla and I’m a journalist/author from London. In the book field I started out writing non-fiction, predominantly in the education/parenting sector. Meanwhile my novel Illicit Magic languished on my hard drive and there’s an even older one lurking there somewhere and probably some even older ones hand written (gasp) in notepads that date back to my teens. When I’m not writing fiction, I’m writing for newspapers, magazines and websites.

Do you have another job besides writing?

No, I’m a freelance journalist so writing is what I do. However that does mean I’m involved in a wide range of topics for lots of different clients. I could be writing on anything from technology to politics to lifestyle or giving a lecture in any given month. I also have a background in book editing so I know what it’s like being an editor as well as an author.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

I wanted to write a book that had a really strong heroine – not invulnerable, but thoughtful and who would grow as a character – and that combined with me being interested in witches. They are very much an embodiment of female power in the supernatural field and I really wanted to write about a strong character who would be able to have her own adventures.

Who is your target audience?

I wanted to write a supernatural mystery that was the next step up in age range from the myriad of YA paranormal fiction novels out there. I asked myself, what do these readers move on to when they get a bit older, when they’ve got through college, and that was part of the creative process to define my audience and the content. My heroine, Stella, is in her mid-twenties and we’re going to be able to grow up with her through the series.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

Generally just after I’ve turned off the lights for the night and snuggled under the covers. Then ping! I get an idea and have to turn the light back on, disturb the cat, find a pen and make some notes. By then I’ve got cold again.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

Disappointing my reader, without a doubt. I want to offer them the best book I can so they can enjoy it and muse it over in their minds, wishing there was a little bit more. I also fear typos. Irritating little beasts.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I tend to write chapter by chapter – though often a scene will spring out at me that I know will be in there later on, but I won’t know where to place it yet. So I write these scenes out of sequence and eventually they slot in. I’m not too precious about the process. In Unruly Magic, the sequel to Illicit Magic, I wrote the ending before I found out exactly how I was going to get there.

Sometimes, I’ll edit as I go along, generally because I’ve written something in a later chapter that needs some support or a clue in an earlier chapter and I don’t want to forget about it. Once I’ve got a full first draft, I start the first big edit where I copy edit and add extra description or dialogue and so on. After I’ve done all that, I start the process of several big edits to get the flow right and then there’s the final proofread to catch any errors.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

You can find out more about me and my books online at www.camillachafer.com and I try and add extras such as playlists and book group guides to give readers a bit more. I also write about the writing process using my background as book editor/ proofreader along with that of being an author of both non-fiction and fiction.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Illicit Magic is the first of the Stella Mayweather paranormal series. The sequel Unruly Magic, due out in July, picks up six months after Illicit Magic ended and takes us into a new era of Stella’s life. When a young girl turns up on Stella’s doorstep saying an ancient book told her Stella would be the one to protect her, she is reluctant to get involved. Dragged into the mystery of why several factions want the young witch, Stella is torn between two worlds: magic and a normal life, if only that decision were so simple. The third book, Devious Magic, is due out December 2011 and will see Stella come face to face with an arch enemy.

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