As a child that loved fairy tales, reading Victoria Schwab's, THE NEAR WITCH as an adult has been such a treat. This book is not all fairy tale, though. It is also a poignant love story.
Victoria Schwab’s debut novel, THE NEAR WITCH, establishes Lexi as a feisty, bright, layered character right off the bat—a character that a reader is eager to get to know more. The story itself is gripping; so many questions run through your mind as a reader, yet is it woven together all so eloquently. As weird as it sounds, it’s a calming page turner.
I was particularly impressed by this author’s ability to weave setting throughout and into the story—so much so that the setting, itself, is a character. By the time I closed the book, I felt like I had visited the village and had known the moors for years.
Description from Indiebound:
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.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? So…Let us welcome author, Victoria Schwab! (Cue wild cheers and confetti!)
1) The way you have drawn the setting in Near Witch is magical. I feel like I have stood within the village and walked through the moors. Is any of this based on a real place?
It’s not, really. It’s based on a feeling, and on my notion of what a fairy tale town would be. I’m always amazed by how sparsely settings are drawn in fairy tales, and I wanted to write one that was a character itself. I’m also fascinated by folklore, the way stories are passed down, and the kind of environment that breeds those stories. So Near was like a playground for me.
2) I was fascinated by the characters in your book. All so different and layered. Which one most resembles you?
I think I’m probably most like Wren. A little odd, in her own world, but much more observant than most give her credit for. She’s never deceived by the adults in the story. She’s a little ball of contradictions, keen, imaginative, skeptical. And on top of all of that, she’s in constant motion, just like me :p
3) Your use of the wind is genius! At what point in the writing process did you add this? Was it organic from the beginning or added later?
The wind was actually one of the very first elements in the story! The whole story grew out of two sentences thought up six months apart, and one of those lines was “The wind on the moors is a tricky thing.”
4) What did you find most difficult about the revision process?
Revision and I...we have kind of have a hate-hate relationship. I love polishing, so the later rounds of edits and I are fine, but earl edits, the tear things out, rearrange, rework kind make my soul sad, mostly because the book invariably gets worse before better, and in the middle of it being worse, I experience a good deal of self-loathing and blanketing angst.
5) I love Lexi! I won’t ask why you made her so strong and intelligent—she had to be. So, did you create her first or the story first?
I created the world and the story first. I created Near, and the kinds of people that inhabited it, and then figured out what would constitute an outsider in that village, what would go against the norm I’d made. And, of course, I wanted to write someone incredibly strong, while still having them fit the story world. She had to be believable as PART of the this world, even though she stands alone.
6) If you could take one of your characters out to dinner, which one would you choose? Why? What would he/she order?
I’d take Dreska. The elder sister of the witch duo, she is sharp (quite literally), and dry, and brimming with old magic. I’d spend the entire dinner trying to learn more about her and the way she moves the world. She and Magda hold more secrets than anyone, even Cole.
7) If you could give an aspiring writer a piece of advice what would that be?
Be brave. Don’t fear rejection. It’s woven into every stage of the game for a reason. Also, nothing you write is written in blood or stone.
8) Do you have/have had a mentor that has been especially helpful to you in the writing of NEAR WITCH and making your way to publication?
I have been so incredibly lucky to have friends that have kept me sane along the way. I didn’t meet many of them until after THE NEAR WITCH was on its way, but they’ve certainly made the journey to publication an adventure. Daisy Whitney, Myra McEntire, Leah Clifford, Kami Garcia, Magaret Stohl, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, Rachel Hawkins, and Jodi Meadows are only a FEW.
9) Can you tell us something about your next project???
My next project is called THE ARCHIVED. I’m not supposed to say too much, because it’s awhile out, BUT I will say that when I’m not cursing edits, I’m literally bouncing with excitement. It’s kind of like Buffy meets The Shining meets If I Stay. With a library.
Thanks so much, Victoria!
ARCHIVED sounds amaaazing! I’m quite sure that NEAR WITCH is only the beginning of your many successes! My THANKS to Victoria for allowing me the pleasure of reading, NEAR WITCH. These are characters that will definitely stick with me.