Ruth Warburton, author of A Witch in Winter, joins us on the blog today to chat about her debut novel. Click here to see my review.
A Witch in Winter has quite a historic feel — the idea of witchcraft being passed down through the centuries, the history surrounding the town Anna moves to — all of which I loved. Did you ever think about making A Witch in Winter a historical novel, or did you always know that you wanted to write a contemporary book?
It was always a contemporary book in my head — I don’t know why — that was just how it started! I could definitely see myself doing something set in the past in another book though. I loved doing the research and weaving it into the plot.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
Mainly it was research in order to write the spells the girls use. They had to sound really convincing and authentically “old”, but the real spell books I found didn’t quite work in the plot. There are lots of real grimoires which survive from the middle ages and even earlier, but they aren’t what we would really think of as spell books — they’re often in Latin and full of complicated instructions about astrology and spirits and demons — they were designed to be read by learned men and are more like a whole study guide.
I wanted something a bit more rustic and domestic, with spells and charms the girls could pick out and use individually, a bit like recipes. So I researched the language and style of real spell books, as well as the language of early recipe books, and I also researched folk charms and superstitions, and tried to kind of combine all three into something close to what I wanted, but convincingly 16th century. Continue reading →