Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Irish Fiction Month Sneak Peeks: Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick - Hagwitch

Today as part of Irish Fiction month I'm bringing you a glimpse at YA gothic thriller, Hagwitch, by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick which is being published by Orion Children's Books on 21 March.  . 

16th-century London, Flea Nettleworth, apprentice to a playwright, watches as his struggling master's fortunes turn, and all of a sudden London is in his thrall. But soon Flea's master can no longer tell where the imagined world ends and the real one begins. Could the arrival of a mysterious Faery hawthorn trunk hold the answer?

Modern day, Lally lives on a barge, roaming the canalways and performing shows with her puppeteer father. Then, after Lally's father pulls an ancient piece of wood from the canal and fashions it into a puppet, his success seems unstoppable. As her father's obsession with his puppet grows and his plays become darker, Lally begins to wonder if there is something rather sinister, dangerous even, about the wooden doll.

Marie-Louise kindly agreed to answer a few questions including where the inspiration came from for Hagwitch so I'll pass you over to her...

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?  
It could be anything at all! Usually several ideas come together to create that spark. With Hagwitch it was emails I got from a cousin telling me of her adventures as an apprentice puppeteer on the real Puppet Theatre Barge. It sounded fascinating. That came together with a memory from childhood: one day I brought my gran home a bouquet of hawthorn flowers I'd picked on my way from school and she yelled at me to get them out of the house. Gran never yelled at me! Later my mother explained to me that it was considered very unlucky to bring those flowers inside your home. Remembering that and thinking of all the superstitions around hawthorn led me to wonder what would happen if someone carved a puppet out of faery wood and brought it onboard the Puppet Barge...

You started out as an illustrator before starting to write your own books, did you always know you wanted to write as well?
I write the picturebooks too! I've been telling stories through words and pictures for about twenty-five years. Picturebook writing is a very particular form, not at all like writing novels - more like writing poetry.

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it or is it top secret?  
I'm finishing a picturebook called Ellie, the Superhero. I have three more illustrations to paint and not much time left to do them! I am really enjoying having a paintbrush in my hand again, though. The book is about that wobbly moment when a child is trying to make new friends in a new place and everyone is a little bit excited, a little bit wary, trying to get the measure of each other and anxious about the change.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why? 
For me writing novels is that other genre! After years of writing and illustrating picture books switching to writing novels has been every bit as challenging, exciting and difficult as I expected
it to be. It is such a different form and I really wrestled with it to produce my first book, Timecatcher. The learning curve was huge but I anticipated it would be because I remembered how difficult it was to create my first picturebooks!

Why switch? Because there was an idea, a character burning in my head. People have often asked me over the years if I'd ever try writing a novel and I always figured I might, but only if a
really strong idea presented itself and demanded to be written.

Can you describe Hagwitch in 20 words or less? 
Witch-within-the-wood wreaks havoc in the lives of two kids, four centuries apart! 

If you'd like to read an extract to get you in the mood then you're in luck as there's one available on Amazon which can be read here. 

Hagwitch is published by Orion Children's Books: trade paperback £8.99. eBook £4.99.  

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