Laura, can you tell us about your first book in the series?
The first book, Seeing Magic, is a coming-of-age story. Maggie is thrust into this strange world of magic and Appalachian rural culture against her wishes and has no choice but to make the best of her time there. When the queen of the local fairy contingent casts a spell on her that exposes dormant magical gifts, Maggie has to learn to control them as well as use them to solve a medical mystery plaguing the community. In the end, Maggie accepts her heritage, magical abilities, and responsibilities as a valued member of this secret coven.
What was the inspiration behind it?
I came across an article on Granny Magic several years ago while researching possible eco-tourism sites for my sister, Dia. She is a hospice-care nurse by profession, but has also trained in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, New Mexico and West Africa as a shamana. She is well-versed in homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine. I wondered what interesting places might exist in our own country for those studying medical anthropology. Granny Magic is a cultural phenomenon unique to the Appalachian region of the U.S., where Scottish immigrants merged Celtic folklore with indigenous Tsalagi (Cherokee) healing methods and herbal medicine. All of the books in this series borrow heavily from the oral traditions of Granny Magic practitioners.
I grew up in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California. When you live so close to Hollywood, artistic endeavors and performing arts are just a way of life. I loved music, but have an awful voice. I loved ballet, but have never been athletically inclined. I enjoyed acting, but in LA that’s a cutthroat business even for third graders (eight-year olds), so after witnessing my acting coach take a bribe from a grandmother and then give my part away to the granddaughter, I joined the writing class at the Parks & Recreation Department instead. I found a niche and have enjoyed writing ever since.
The second book in the series (which I’m currently reading) is called “Healing Hands” can you tell us a little about this book?
Healing Hands is a romance in every sense of the word. Maggie is drawn to Evan, a psychic, but their union is forbidden by coven law. Their need to understand why a love that feels so right is considered wrong drives them to uncover a horrible secret: the moon goddess has arranged the untimely deaths of dozens of Maggie’s ancestors in order to prevent a prophesy from coming to pass. In her zeal to stop the prophesy, she inadvertently sets events in motion that make it come true. Maggie and Evan expose the moon goddess as a murderer and convince others to repeal the coven law banning their relationship.
And what of the third in the series?
Saving Daylight is an epic tale of war. Once the moon goddess is exposed, and the prophesy comes true, she declares war on the entire community. Maggie, Evan, and the coven leadership must pull together to defend their home and way of life.
The trilogy is set in the semi-rural backdrop of Berkley Springs. I actually looked this town up after reading the first book because I wanted to know if it’s a real place or not…it is! What enticed you to use this location for the setting of your stories? You seem to know this town very well, do you have ties to it?
Berkeley Springs is located about fifteen miles from where my mother lived for many years, and about thirty miles from where I live now. From the first time I visited I knew there was something unique about the place. Shops on the main road through town feature new-age boutiques, herbal supply stores and a food cooperative. The natural hot springs have always been rumored to heal the sick. The natural landscape is breathtaking. Wiccan practitioners flock to the place, so although I don’t live there myself, how could I not set my story there?
You have a peculiar and at times, quite difficult, writing environment. I know that you’re often up at very odd hours writing away (as I can sometimes tell that you’re on-line at such times) can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
After college I gave up artistic pursuits in lieu of a career in telecommunications, but fate dealt me a serious of unfortunate events which sidelined my corporate career. Within weeks of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001, my son was diagnosed with Autism and my husband was let go from his job. 9-11 had a devastating effect on the telecommunications industry, and within nine months I had also been laid off. Instead of trying to compete with the masses for another corporate position, I chose to open a daycare for children in the autism spectrum out of my home. That worked for three years until my second son was born with Spina Bifida. Between the two of them, the demands of motherhood precluded any attempt at keeping a job or running my own small business, so I became a full-time stay-at-home mom. We also became desperately poor and homeless for about two-and-a-half years. I returned to writing fiction as a way to distract myself from real-life problems, particularly because we didn’t have access to cable television in our campground. My fictional stories were a form of entertainment. Nighttime, after the family is safely asleep, is still my best time to write. My oldest son, Chris, was accepted into a residential school program for developmentally-delayed and behaviorally-challenged kids at the Grafton Institute about a year ago, so I have more time now during the day, but I like the quiet of midnight.
In the second book of your series I think you’ve managed a particularly nice blend of Christian and Celtic lore and beliefs, it seems seamless and quite natural the way you present it. Did you find that difficult to accomplish?
That blend of pagan and Christian beliefs actually feels more natural to me than the fanatic Christian faith which is so prominent in this part of America. I am a confirmed Episcopalian, but also fascinated with the religious beliefs of my ancestors. Part Scottish-American, part Native American, and part Mexican, I have a lot of heritage to choose from. The more I study comparative mythology, the more I realize that there is always a fundamental set of morals which exists in every religion. I try to focus on those common values.
Amongst other things, you’ve managed to provide a fairly good background into herbalism, native beliefs and you seem to have a fairly intimate knowledge of life in West Virginia. Did you have to do much research for this book series?
I have done a great deal of research for these novels, but I’ve also utilized other resources. My sister has reviewed every herbal potion in the books and has verified them for authenticity.
Although the Queen of the Night series is a fantasy series, what are your views on magic? Is there magic in our world?
I certainly hope so, although I’ve not seen it for myself. My ten-year old believes that magic exists. I’d like to believe that there are forces beyond our understanding that balance out good and evil and that some people can tap into those forces.
Are there any other books on the horizon? What can we expect from Laura Emmons in the near future?
I plan to release Saving Daylight early in 2015. I’m also finishing up my first YA murder mystery tentatively titled The Pitbull Plaything. I’ll post to my blog as often as possible. Plus, my first real publishing credit will debut during Halloween week when Morning Rain Publishing will feature my flash fiction horror story, “Strange Donation” on their blog. Lastly, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month which starts on November 1st. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. I’ll be writing a fourth book set in my fictional Queen of the Night universe. The story will focus on Maggie’s little brother, Corey, who is unhappy and unlucky after the third book in the trilogy. I felt bad about leaving him like that, so hopefully I’ll be able to write him a happy ending next month. Is it wrong that I talk about my characters as if they’re real people? Hmmm… Thanks for taking the time to interview me. This was fun! Here are links to follow my progress:
“Strange Donation” will be available sometime between October 27 and October 31 at http://morningrainpublishing.com/blog/.
My weekly blog can be found at http://lauraewrites.blogspot.com/. Find SEEING MAGIC at http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Magic-Queen-Night-Book-ebook/dp/B00NHRIOYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1414041753&sr=1-1&keywords=Seeing+Magic/.
Find HEALING HANDS at http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Hands-Queen-Night-Book-ebook/dp/B00NIXZO98/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1414041839&sr=1-6&keywords=Healing+Hands/. Follow my novels on Facebook at http://www,facebook.com/seeingmagic/ OR http://www.facebook.com/lauraewrites/.