Hello Bookworms, today’s post is one that is very new and exciting for me! I have longed to interview an author for the longest time, and today’s post is an exclusive interview with Sasha Laurens, the author of A Wicked Magic, a new YA fantasy novel. We are going to be discussing her new release, and how it came to be! Make sure to read on for more information on the novel.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.
During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?
Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.
When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.
Erin : Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Sasha : Writing definitely energizes me. I write in the morning when my mind is clearest—and before I have to deal with work from my “real” job, which is being a graduate student. Starting the morning with creative work first really helps focus me for the rest of the day too. It also helps me deal with anxiety, especially when I’m falling asleep at night. Instead of stressing out about work, I think about my characters, the setting, or the conflict.
Erin : What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Sasha : For A WICKED MAGIC, I didn’t do much research, because it takes place in a setting I’m really familiar with, which is the Northern Californian Coast, not too far from where I grew up. I took trips to West Marin and talked to some friends who grew up there to share stories about their hometowns. Almost all of the minor characters in A WICKED MAGIC, from Brodie, the local guy who dates high school girls, to Swann, the witch who works in a tattoo shop, are based on real people. I also researched what kind of plants grow in a pygmy forest, California’s coastal caves and Gold Rush-era ghost towns.
Erin : Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
Sasha : A few ideas came together at the beginning of A WICKED MAGIC: a pair of best friends who weren’t aware of how toxic their relationship had become, a rockstar who had gone missing, a scrap of Russian folklore I’d heard that having three people stand at a crossroads was bad luck, the isolation and wild beauty of the California coast. All of that came together as a story when I started thinking about a situation I’d been in in high school, where my best friend started dating the boy I’d just had my first kiss with. Once I realize that conflict was core to the downfall of Dan and Liss’s friendship, I had enough to start writing.
Erin : If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Sasha : Relax! When I was younger, I was really into writing serious fiction. I thought literary fiction was the only legitimate kind of writing. I didn’t start reading or writing genre fiction until I was in my mid-twenties, when I discovered I’d been missing out on years of fun!
Erin : What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Sasha : I could talk about how much you learn about writing from critiquing other people’s work and being critiqued, but really, I value my writer friends because they understand the struggles, anxieties and triumphs of writing and publishing in a way other people in my life don’t. Most people never even try to write a novel, so they really don’t know what it’s like to sit there for hours trying to put on paper what you see in your head (or trying to get something to appear in your head at all…). Even fewer people make it to the publishing stage. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone who knows what you mean when you say you’re freaking out over your edit letter or irrationally annoyed by a Goodreads review!
Erin : How many drafts do your books generally go through before publication?
Sasha : The answer depends on how you define a draft. I didn’t write the ending of A WICKED MAGIC until just before my agent and I sent it out to editors. But by that point, my agent had already commented on at least two versions, I’d had critique partners take a look at a few different stages, and I myself had outlined and re-outlined it probably a dozen times. The book went through two rounds of full revisions with my editor before it moved to copyediting and proofs.
Erin : Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Sasha : Alexa was a much harder character to crack than Dan or Liss. That’s partly because Dan and Liss are more or less in the midst of a crisis throughout A WICKED MAGIC, whereas Alexa is in a place of new stability. it took me a longer to figure out what her story was really about. Alexa goes through some rough times over the course of A WICKED MAGIC, so she’s also a character I really wanted to have reach a happy ending; those scenes are some of my favorites in the book.
Erin : Which scene was most difficult to write? Why?
Sasha : There are a few emotional scenes in A WICKED MAGIC that were tough to get through. Not wanting to spoil too much, I’ll just say that there is a very intense scene focused on Dan that happens right before the climax of the book that was really challenging. There are a lot of emotional layers to that scene, and at the same time Dan is very upset, so making the arc of that scene clear was a struggle. The scene also involves a depiction of self-harm, which is naturally very sensitive, and I tried my best to show that without glamorizing it.
SASHA LAURENS grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science.
You can find her here:
Thanks for reading! I loved chatting with Sasha, and if you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out A Wicked Magic!
Are you excited to check out this book? Let me know in the comments below.