Friday, August 26, 2011

Author Interview: Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch)

Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say "tom-ah-toes," "like," and "y'all."

She also tells stories.

She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.

What has been the most surprising thing about being a debut author?

It’s a tie between how much work there is to do besides writing, and how wonderful and supportive the community is! Honestly, both things completely knocked me off my feet.

Is the legend of The Near Witch that Lexi recites in the novel inspired by any real-world fairy tales?

Elements in NW were inspired by the WAY fairy tales are written and told, their archetypes and flavor, by the oral nature of folklore, etc. But I didn’t draw on any specific fairy tales when writing the story of the Near Witch.

It is clear that Lexi adores her little sister Wren (and who wouldn’t?). Do you have a little sister? Did that relationship influence the way you wrote Lexi and Wren?

I am actually an only child! But sibling relations have always fascinated me (they are really important in NW...Magda and Dreska, Lexi and Wren, Otto and Lexi’s father, etc). I’ve always wanted to have a sibling. As an only child, I spent half my time delighting in being the center of my parents world, and half the time wishing I had a brother or sister in that world with me. So I think my want of a sibling and my awareness of the lack of one made me want to write them even more.

What inspired you to make Lexi such an adept tracker? Is that a skill you also possess?

Not exactly. But I’ve always been, I think, a very observant person. My father is a Type1 diabetic and I grew up hyper-attentive to his tells (signs he was low in sugar). I learned to read him, and eventually others. Reading people and spaces are overlapping skills, I think, in that the require an ability to look at the details and the whole at the same time.

Witches in the world of Near control different elements. Given the choice, which element would you like to be able to control? What would you do with that power?

I would like to be able to control water, because it can be hard or soft, running through the land or falling from the sky. It is, in my opinion the most diverse of the elements, used to nurture but also incredibly dangerous. I like to hope I’d use it for good ;)

I have to ask, with your English heritage and the strong presence of the ghostly moor – are you a fan of Wuthering Heights?

Hahahahaha. It’ my favorite. I am a huge fan of The Secret Garden though, which I feel has a closer connection to Near and the nature of the magic there.

In your website bio, you mention that you changed paths quite frequently in college. If you weren’t writing, what do you think you’d be doing now?

Either owning a bakery or being an interrogator. I’m not even joking.

Does Lexi ever learn Cole’s real name? Will you tell us what it is? *bats eyes*

Lexi does. And I will say that I withheld it for a reason (I felt it was important that we not know Cole by another name in NW because I didn’t want who he was before, even in name, to alter the way we meet him through Lexi), but I don’t intend to withhold forever. ;)

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

I lived in a shed in Liverpool for three months with a spider I named Bob in the hopes that giving him a name would make him less terrifying. It did not work.

Will we see any of the inhabitants of Near in your future work?

I hope so. The next book I have hitting shelves is the first in a different series, but if things work out, I’m not done with Near.

Thanks so much for Victoria for taking the time to answer my questions! I definitely hope to see more of Near in the near (heh) future!

For more about this author, please visit:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.


Lauren M said...

I loved The Secret Garden, too! I used to make-believe I was part of the story when I was a kid.
I'd love to see more of Near in the future--glad Victoria isn't letting it go quite yet! :)
Thanks for the interview!

Deserae McGlothen said...

This was a really cool interview. Thanks, V, for answering questions, and the questions themselves were really cool and interesting so I look forward to reading more interviews from this blog!

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