Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Accidental Witch" by Jessica Penot

The Accidental Witch
by Jessica Penot

The Accidental Witch is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway to win an Amazon gift card. Be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Phaedra Michaels is a small town psychologist who is beginning to lose hope. Two of her patients at the local hospital in Dismal, Alabama have just killed themselves, she’s still reeling from her divorce and what turned out to be a disastrous marriage, and her father has died, leaving her without any notion of who her real mother is. 
Just as Phaedra decides to commit herself to a serious drinking problem and an eating disorder, or two, a mysterious spell book arrives in the mail. Feeling desperate, Phaedra uses it to cast spells to save her fading patients. Suddenly, good things start happening.  Phaedra’s patients begin to get better and she even starts dating the sexy doctor from the hospital.
Phaedra is so happy she doesn't notice the small things that start to go wrong in Dismal, or the dark creatures slithering out of the shadows near her house. When Phaedra finally realizes her spells have attracted every card-carrying demon from hell, she has no choice but to accept help from a slightly nerdy, 500 year-old warlock with a penchant for wearing super hero T-shirts and a knack for getting under Phaedra’s skin. Now, if only she could get the hang of this witch thing, she might be able to save her town.

It is amazing how the most world-changing days can seem entirely mundane to begin with. Friday the 13th seemed no different than any other day to me. I woke up late, as always, and rushed to get dressed and make it to the car with my usual box of animal crackers and diet cola. I pulled my shoes on as I backed out of the driveway and ate while I drove to work.
I was late to work, but just early enough to not be noticed as late. The small hospital where I worked was a blip in a vast nowhere and the small psychiatric floor I worked on was a blip in a blip. I was a blip within a blip within a blip, making me practically nothing. I could’ve died in my sleep and the world would barely belch. I liked to think that I was good at what I did. I liked to think that even though I was a nothing, I made a difference in the patients’ lives. I was one of those deluded people that believed in saving the world one person at a time. I guess I still am. Certainly, I was one of the few people that actually cared about the patients. The management didn’t care that I cared. Management was too busy trying to balance the books and keep the floor profitable to care what the staff did with the patients. I could take all the patients outside and have them moo like cows and management wouldn’t care as long as I billed it as a recreational therapy group and got the proper reimbursement.

I enjoyed this dark tale about a cynical psychologist living in small-town Alabama. Her own life is a mess but she has a good heart. Once she "accidentally" gets exposed to the power of witchcraft, things look great at first but soon the sh!t really hits the fan. She has to figure out how to make things right, with her town, her past and current lovers, her patients, and with herself. The story weaves in alternative explanations of historical figures and events that were influenced by witchcraft, which was a bonus for me. It was a fun read.

Interview with the Author
Hi Jessica, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, The Accidental Witch.
Which writers have influenced you the most? Some of my favorite authors are A. Lee Martinez, Anne Rice, Christopher Moore, Simone St. James, Frank Herbert, and Joan D. Vinge.
What age group do you recommend your book for? This is definitely an adult book.
What sparked the idea for this book? My job inspired me. Mental health can be a stressful field to work in and most of my clients were suicidal. I often wished there was some kind of magic that could bring my patients the peace they deserved. In The Accidental Witch, the psychologist finds that magic.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel? In this case, the story for the novel, but I’m sure that isn’t always the case.
What was the hardest part to write in this book? I always struggle with the beginning. It is usually the slowest paced and I always can’t wait until I get to the meat of the novel.
How do you hope this book affects its readers? I hope they love it!
How long did it take you to write this book? It took my about seven or eight months.
What is your writing routine? I have three children so I don’t really have a routine. I work wherever and whenever I can. Sometimes I work late at night other times I work while I’m waiting for my children to finish violin or guitar. It just depends on when I can find the time.
How did you get your book published? I have a wonderful agent, Sharon Belcastro. She sold my first book to Lachesis and has sold every book I’ve written since.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? I would suggest they spend as much time as possible writing and then find a good agent.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? I don’t have much spare time, but when I have free time I love spending time with my family, reading, watching movies, and sleeping.
What does your family think of your writing? I have a big family and they all support e to varying degrees. My husband and my sister, Janice, are the most supportive.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. My childhood was complicated. It wasn’t particularly happy. I used to tell stories to myself to get through the hard times. Reading books and making up stories in my head got me through even in the hardest times.
Did you enjoy school? I love school. I keep going back. I’m working on my second Master’s Degree now.
Did you like reading when you were a child? I never liked children’s books so I didn’t start reading passionately until I was nine. I started sneaking adult books at that time. My mother would have killed me if she knew that I was reading all her Anne Rice books.
What was your favorite book as a child? I loved Interview with the Vampire and Dune.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? Anne Rice, Philippa Gregory, and Barbara Michaels. I loved vampires when I was a girl so Anne Rice was always my favorite author.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I have an old diary I wrote from when I was six. In it I said I wanted to be a writer.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? Of course. My love of ghost stories and scary stories come from my childhood.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? They usually have lovely things to say. They are the ones that keep me writing. My readers are all wonderful.
What can we look forward to from you in the future? I am currently working on the second book in The Dark Arts series. It is called Waking the Witch. I also have a middle grade book called The Monster Hunter’s Manual due out this spring.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Jessica. Best of luck with your new books.

About the Author
Jessica Penot is a therapist who lives in Alabama with her two corgis, cat, sons, husband and other strange creatures. She is the author of Haunted North Alabama, Haunted Chattanooga, Circe, and The Accidental Witch. She is also the editor of Insatiable: The Magazine of Paranormal Desires.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win one of five $10 Amazon gift cards.