I recently wrote an article reviewing a book that I'd read and absolutely loved, The Last Witch. If you haven't had a chance to read the post click here to check it out. I reached out to the author, M J Lawrie, and I was lucky enough to catch up with her the other day. The Last Witch is a finely tuned and quite brilliant book and I was keen to explore the creative genius behind it so let's jump right into the interview.... read to the end though as there is a chance to win a signed paperback.
Author of The Last Witch, M J Lawrie
Hey MJ, welcome to my blog. Introduce yourself to my readers.
Hello everyone. My name is Melissa (friends call me MJ), and I’m a mum to two little boys, wife to an ad man, and in my spare time, a writer. I’m originally from Suffolk but now live in the quiet town of Epping, England.
What inspired you to write?
Nightmares. I’ve had vivid nightmares for as long as I can remember. I would frequently be found wandering the house in the middle of the night talking utter nonsense and chasing monsters. Always chasing. Never running.
It really freaked my parents out. My dad thought it would be helpful to keep a dream journal. One day he said, "some of these would make an amazing story”. So I decided to do exactly that and started turning them into stories. I showed one to my English teacher in high school and she really enjoyed it. And having someone - not related to me and with no obligation to say that it was good, say it was good, and that she would like to see more of my stuff, made me very happy and proud.
I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
That's weird because my book House of Scarabs is based on a dream I had... maybe our creativity resides in our subconscious. So which genre/s do you write in and how many books have you published?
I write fantasy. Mainly Urban. With romantic and action elements. My stories tend to have a dark side and I don’t shy away from difficult subjects. I love strong female leads and characters that make you ask yourself…are they the good guy?
I have published one book so far - The Last Witch. It’s the first in a trilogy (Second one due end of 2019. Third next year.) And my standalone novel entitled The Verity is out in the summer. Zombies. A sword-wielding heroine on horseback. And set in England, fifty years from now.
Which of your book reviews meant the most and why?
The review that means the most to me is the first one I received on Goodreads. Because it was from a complete stranger who I hadn’t asked to read the book at all.
And he loved my book. I think he actually wrote a better blurb than I did. It’s really a lovely review. You should check it out :) - thanks again, Raj!
I write about resurrection and ancient Egyptian mythology because I’m an Egyptology nerd. What attracted you to writing about witches and the arcane craft?
Because I’m a witch :) Only joking…well, depends on who you ask I suppose.
Magic fascinates me. Both in fiction and in history. England is steeped in myths and legends, and I love it all. Getting lost in the idea of an impossible world where anything is possible is much more enticing to me than living in reality.
I also had an obsession with ancient Egypt as a young girl. Because it was such a magical notion. The rituals. The beliefs. The gods and ceremonies. They’re as close to a magical civilisation as we’ll ever get if you ask me. There was even a point (not now sadly) that I knew the alphabet in hieroglyphs! (Thank you, James Henry Breasted)
My childhood was mainly me, a library card and my membership to Blockbuster. I did my homework while watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer and fell asleep to The Craft.
Girls that kick the monsters asses. They’re a real inspiration.
If you could have one witch like power which would it be and why?
Telekinesis. You could really screw with people, and you would never have to get up for the TV remote again.
Which paranormal authors inspire you and which book is your favourite?
Easy. JK Rowling. Harry Potter.
Or Phillip Pullman. His dark materials.
Charlene Harris. The Sookie Stackhouse series.
Wait. Wait. My absolute favourite, which will be apparent when and if you read The Last Witch (HL: I did and I loved it!), is the Grimm Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Wow. Just wow. If you haven’t read them, you really must. Cinderella will never be the same again for you. I promise you.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done and has it influenced your writing?
Not the most interesting. But certainly the most impactful. For a college project, I made a documentary called Fact Or Fantasy. I spent months talking to people about various encounters/events/experiences that they had in the realm of the paranormal. I stayed in haunted houses. Visited cursed rectories. Spent the night in a woods that had been visited by aliens etc. All very intense places. Especially at night.
But it was the people I spoke to that really made an impact on me. When they were telling me their stories, as I listened to how they felt and what they experienced, I was completely absorbed. Most of the time, when it got too scary for them, they said: “they got the hell out of there!”
And I thought…well, that’s no fun. What if they stayed? What if they didn’t run away?
And no. I didn’t see any ghosts or little green men. But the people I spoke to, many of whom were completely rational and reasonable people, they still swear blind that they saw “something”.
*Gets out pen and paper.
I love the paranormal genre yet I’ve never been keen to explore the more obvious areas of Vampires, Werewolves etc. I’m keen to explore new relatively untrodden territory like resurrection and Egyptian Mythology. Is there an area of paranormal that you’d love to explore?
Ghosts. Spirits. Ghouls.
I think that the dead have more tales to tell than the living.
I’m keen to give that a go.
So tell us a little about The Last Witch.
The Last Witch is the first in a trilogy. It is a dark fantasy set in modern day England. Mainly in and around the Cornish coast.
Many years ago, magic was lost from the world, and those with the ability to use it were forced into hiding. Today, their descendants are still hunted, persecuted and killed by ruthless Witch Hunters.
To save them all from certain death, magic must return. But only one woman has the power to make that happen.
Lilly Hooper has a fear of touch, terrible nightmares hinting to the horrors of her past, and mysterious scars covering almost all of her body. She is also the most powerful witch alive, and the only one with the ability to return magic. Taken in by two witch brothers, Gabriel and Grayson Kendryk, she must now face her destiny.
With a group of witch hunters trying to kill her, a crippling fear of her own magic and a sadistic old flame determined to reclaim her as his own, Lilly may not even be able to save herself. Never mind hundreds of innocent witches on the verge of annihilation.
Pass it forward. Which book and author would you recommend my readers try?
I literally just finished reading this today, and I really enjoyed it. Ashes of Revival by Alex Shobe. A feisty queen has her thrown taken, and she won’t stop until she gets it back. With the help of a gladiator of course. Very good. Not a paranormal or fantasy. But still…very good.
Or go for a classic. Pet Sematary. Mr King. Great book.
It was great catching up with MJ and I truly can't recommend her book enough... I'm going to be chomping at the bit to find out what happens to Lilly in the next volume of the story.
Competition - win a signed paperback
MJ's spread a little of her magic our way and has offered one of you the chance to win a signed paperback edition of The Last Witch. To enter the competition you need to answer the following question:
Q: How long had the war raged between witches and humans at the start of The Last Witch?
Clue: The answer's in the book's description on Amazon.
To enter the competition send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. A winner will be drawn from the correct answers and notified by email. The competition ends at 11.59pm GMT on 18th June 2019. Competition limited to one entry per person.
The Last Witch (Vol One) is out now! A dark fantasy novel. Click HERE to learn more. Click HERE to buy. Click HERE to read the first chapter for free.
That's it for now. Until next time... happy reading!