Hello Delighted Readers! We have a special author guest today who has braved the cold to join us. She’s here to talk about her newest release, Wickedly Wonderful, from the fantastic Baba Yaga series and let us get to know her better. The snow is flurrying outside, the fireplace has a nice friendly crackling fire going and my array of comfy seasonal teas and cocoas and a plate of assorted cookies are ready. Just in time because here she is!
Welcome Deborah! Come on in out of the cold. Yep, kick those boots off and get comfy. Oooh, cute socks! And how are things from your neck of the Upstate New York woods?
Cold! Of course, that’s pretty typical of Upstate NY at this time of year. I will say, it is pretty with the snow dusting the pines in front of my house. Cold, but pretty.
I saw in your bio that you live in a lovely old farmhouse. Is it completely restored or a work in progress still? I love old homes (which is good because I live in one) and old home furnishings. Any fascinating features to it that you could share about?
“Completely restored.” (Rolls on the floor laughing.) My little piece of paradise is definitely a work in progress, although I love its quirks. I’m not sure if you would call it a fascinating feature, but the house is so old and rickety that when my massive cat Mystic (who does weigh 16 pounds) comes bounding down the stairs, the whole house shakes! And when the furnace kicks on, the lights flicker. Nothing to worry about. Really. M’kay, good to know that you’re not really living in a haunted house.
I’ll bet your kitties just love having such a place to call their own. We have one feline friend gracing us with his presence and he keeps it real around here. He loves the pine wreath I put up every year (jumps and hangs upside down from it like a loco) about this time and he dives right into snow head first once its deep enough. Do your fur babies have any quirky traits?
I have a couple cats. Okay, five. But one’s small, so she hardly counts. My black cat, Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe (that’s her whole title, and she’d prefer that you use it) is proof that you have to be careful what you name cats. I’m a practicing witch (that’s my quirky trait) and when my group comes over to do magical work, Magic strolls into the living room, walks clockwise around the circle, and then sits and supervises until we’re done. We always know the ritual is over when she leaves the room. Not one of the other four shows any interest at all…They do have a way of expressing their superiority for sure.
Speaking of quirky, Baba Yaga is such a relatively obscure mythical/paranormal character particularly here in the Americas. Several of us were talking up your first book and discussing who had even heard the Baba Yaga stories before. What was it about Baba Yaga that made you choose to bring her modern story to life?
I wanted to do an updated fairy tale (I love reading the ones other folks have written), but I didn’t want to use one of the standard oft-repeated characters like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. And my agent put in a request for a witch protagonist. So I thought, “What fairy tale has a witch in it who isn’t strictly a two-dimensional bad guy, and hasn’t already been used?” Which got me to Baba Yaga, who hadn’t been written about at all. I love that she is neither good nor evil (although she has a dreadful reputation), but her reaction to people depends on their behavior and intentions. Worthy seekers received her help, although they had to work for it. The unworthy, well, let’s not talk about them.
Actually, you included several myths and legends to support Baba Yaga. I am very intrigued about them all and how you moved them into modern times- a dragon, a magical hut, a posse of three helpers, the fae…just so magical! Would you give us the scoop or at least a tantalizing tidbit about a magical someone or something from the latest book’s supporting cast?
Believe it or not, ALL those elements came out of the original Baba Yaga stories. That’s part of what made these books so much fun to write. The dragon, the three Riders, the magical hut…all there, as was the Otherworld. In the first book, I got to use a classic Russian fairy tale nasty, the Rusalka. This time around, I did steal a bit from other mythology and included mermaids and selkies. Beka, the Baba Yaga in Wickedly Wonderful, is very attuned to the element of water, and the book takes place on the California coast, so it just made sense to bring in some paranormal water creatures.
What’s the latest Baba Yaga in Wickedly Wonderful like? Does she have a special interest or hobby? Does she have a magical hut and dragon dog too? What’s the hero, Marcus’ favorite thing about her?
So many questions! I know, I get excited about these books. Beka Yancy is the youngest and least experienced of the three USA Baba Yagas and she is struggling with self-confidence issues. In fact, she isn’t really sure she is cut out to be a Baba Yaga at all. When she’s not taking care of magical issues, she loves to surf, and she makes jewelry that she sells at Renaissance Fairs and places like that. Her “hut” looks like a cool refurbished school bus with water scenes painted on the outside, and her Chudo-Yudo, who she calls Chewie, is disguised as a huge black Newfoundland. (They tend to be pretty big to begin with, and they love water.)
Marcus’s favorite thing about Beka is how she seems to bring out the best in everyone around her with her upbeat attitude. Even him, despite his best efforts.
And while I’ve got you dishing- take some cookies and enjoy one of these teas if you’d like- I don’t suppose you can share something special about the latest hero- a scene, a quote, etc- that was one of your favorites from the book that was a big moment for him? Was he an original creation or inspired by someone in life?
Oooh, thanks for the cookies! One of my favorite scenes with Marcus, the hero from the book, is when he and Beka are fighting the bad guys towards the end of the book. I can’t tell you what he does, but I can tell you that they work together to win the day. And I’ll confess it here, if you promise not to tell anyone. *looks around to make sure no one is listening* My hero Marcus was inspired just a little bit by actor Gerard Butler. I was watching a bunch of movies about surfing (as research for the book) Uh-huh, research, ri-ght. and there was one he starred in and I said, “That’s him! That’s Marcus!” It doesn’t hurt that I think he’s gorgeous. Right there with you on that one.
I know you’re probably hip deep in promoting Wickedly Wonderful, but I’m one for looking ahead (and that translates as ‘when I devour the latest Baba Yaga, when can I anticipate the next one?’). What’s next for you that you can share with everybody?
I’m still waiting to hear if Berkley is going to be publishing the third book in the series, although I’ve got my fingers crossed so hard it is kind of hard to type. And I have another completely unrelated book out on submission, ditto. My next nonfiction book on witchcraft, Everyday Witchcraft will be coming from Llewellyn in March, and I’m also working on a very cool project for them—a tarot deck!—with a great artist. Oh, and later this month, I’m going to be on the front cover of Witches & Pagans Magazine, which is kind of exciting. Oh, nice! I’m also giving some thought to self-publishing another series with a completely different witch protagonist…so you’ll just have to wait and see. Whew! Yep, that’s a lot. I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes too that they publish book three.
It was a delight to have you stop by and visit us today, Deborah. Let me wrap up some of the cookies to take with you because if I don’t, I will eat them all (no self-control here) and if you give them to your cats to bat around as hockey pucks around the floor, I will never know or care. Haha! Feel free to drop back in with us at The Delighted Reader to chat any time.
Thanks so much for having me! It has been so much fun. And yes, let’s pretend I’m going to give the cookies to the cats and not eat them all myself.
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