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Katherine and Elizabeth Corr
THE WITCH'S TEARS and THE WITCH'S KISS follow teenaged Merry, who is training to be a witch.
It hasn't been long since Merry had had to confront the wicked Gwydion. But with mysterious deaths, stabbings and the disappearance of her gran, Merry has new problems to face. With her brother Leo attracted to a stranger in town, this time she is on her own...
We speak to authors ELIZABETH AND KATHERINE CORR about their enthralling new novel, THE WITCH'S TEARS.
Q: Your debut, The Witch's Kiss, was published last year. Why did you decide to write it together?
A: ELIZABETH We had both always written when we were younger but it was after having children that I started writing again. We both read Twilight and that inspired me to write my own stories. I started writing a novel and 60,000 words in, I showed it to Katherine who was doing a writing course at the time, and she helped me to get it finished.
KATHERINE That was a completely different story called The Shadow Wood, we had two agents interested in it but it wasn't enough of a page turner. When they asked, 'What else do you have?', we wrote The Witch's Kiss at warp speed - it was done in six months!
Q: How do you go about writing your stories collaboratively?
A: ELIZABETH The original idea for The Witch's Kiss came to me randomly one night. It was a strange time for us. My husband was going through chemotherapy for a brain tumour and has since passed away. So writing the book gave me something else to think about, where I could switch off from everything going on around me.
KATHERINE We had always been keen on fantasy from when we were little, we watched Robin of Sherwood and Star Trek and read Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, so that's what we ended up writing. We started off by dividing the book into chapters but, as it went on, we each found we were enjoying particular sections so we agreed we could each continue those, and then we'd both edit each other. We have different skills, so I will do the historical development when we need that while Elizabeth is much more aware of current culture and dialogue than I am.
ELIZABETH It helps that we're very close and we spend a lot of time laughing about things and running ideas off each other. We put everything in Dropbox so it is all shared and we can see all the files at the same time. I tend to write once my children have gone to bed; Katherine's children are teenagers and a bit more self-sufficient so she can write more during the day.
Q: What was it about The Witch's Kiss that made you want to write a sequel to it?
A: KATHERINE We wrote the first book as a stand-alone story but we felt we wanted to take the story further, even before we got the publishing deal. In The Witch's Kiss, the evil that has been inhabiting Jack is thrown out but we wanted to explore the aftermath of that happening. We liked the characters and felt that there was more to say about them, especially the two main characters, Merry and Leo. We also thought that there was more to say about wizarding in this story, and the different kinds of magic that exist; the covens haven't all be sweetness and light through the centuries....
Q: In the first book you explore what happens as Merry discovers her inherent powers as a witch. Book two says much more about the 'rules' of witchcraft. How did you establish what the rules would be?
A: KATHERINE I was very interested in the historical side of witchcraft and I did a lot of research into this for the first book, especially the Anglo Saxon era where the whole story has its beginnings. At that time they didn't separate magic and science and nature; it was all part of one world view. So the herbs and chants and singing that are part of the witchcraft setting came from that time. We also decided our witches would be more in tune with nature than the wizards; the witches are not using power for its own sake.
We decided that the books would show that there are consequences in everything we do and say. In The Witch's Kiss, decisions were made some 500 years ago that would have consequences that fed the evil wizard Gwydion's power. Those decisions play out in today's world in the second story, too.
Q: Why did you choose a lakeside setting as the place where most of the action occurs in these stories?
A: KATHERINE It's partly because of where we live, we have both spent a lot of time in the Surrey Hills, so it's a landscape we're familiar with. It also goes back to the Anglo Saxon ideas that places in landscape were sacred or magical. They weren't just the focus for the magic, they were doorways where you could travel from one world to another and these places were where you could get to different worlds. So the lake in The Witch's Kiss is a portal and the site itself was sacred.
Q: While THE WITCH'S KISS is focused on the relationship between Merry and Jack, in the second book the focus is on Merry and Leo's sibling relationship. Can you tell us a little about that?
A: KATHERINE We loved the relationship between Merry and her brother Leo and wanted to explore that more, as well as looking more closely at what happens to Leo after he loses his best friend, Dan. Leo is gay and was a bit in love with Dan, who was straight, so Leo has never been in a relationship.
In The Witch's Tears, Leo is very vulnerable and Ronan, who is new in town, takes advantage of that although he does love him as far as he is able; Ronan's ideas of how love works is very twisted by his own experiences.
Q: Merry, meanwhile, has lost Jack, whom she loved, and is now sparring with Finn. Will we see more of that in book three?
A: ELIZABETH The books are planned as a trilogy and we will continue to see love play out in all its different forms, although the relationship between Merry and Leo will remain as the most important one. But there are others, like Leo's relationship with Ronan and also Merry and her grandmother, who has an important role in these books. She is partly based on our own gran, who we were very close to.
Q: What else can we expect in the next book?
A: KATHERINE Well, we will have the two villains together, Ronan and Gwydion - who is back, and Merry will have to face the potential destruction of everything she knows...
Q: Would you ever want to write books on your own?
A: ELIZABETH Maybe one day! Although I'm sure that Katherine would probably like to go off and write an historical novel. If I did one on my own it would probably be something funny like Bridget Jones. But for now we have a lot of other ideas that we're looking into, including a trilogy and a couple of stand-alones.
KATHERINE We hadn't ever planned to write together, although we were both thinking about writing at the same time, while we were stay-at-home mums. We had both done a little on our own but writing together has given us the impetus to actually finish something.
Q: Would you recommend that young people coming into writing should also try to write with someone else?
A: ELIZABETH For it to be successful, they would have to be very close and willing to be very honest because if you can't tell the other person that you don't think their idea is very good, or you don't want to hear that your idea isn't good enough, then it won't work.
KATHERINE Working with someone else is very motivational, though; perhaps look at someone you can run ideas off, rather than writing a story together?
Q: There are some fabulous spells described in these books - which ones would you bring back to your world, if you could?
A: KATHERINE Definitely the broomstick spell, which can get you from one place to another very quickly. That would be such a life saver...
ELIZABETH I think the scrying spell sounds fun, to find out what people are getting up to!