As lockdown set in, I and many of my local writing friends realised our plans had to change; that we were struggling to write what we had planned. We began to talk witches; witches living in the parts of Aotearoa we knew best.

From that grew that Contemporary Witchy Fiction project; a series of novellas set in Aotearoa New Zealand about modern day witches. It was something fluffy and optimistic, something to enjoy working on, and something I very much hope people will enjoy reading.

My novella Succulents and Spells is one of the first to be released, on 21st September. You can pre-order it on Kindle here - there will also be a paperback edition. I am delighted by the cover, created by Jacqueline Sweet:

[For those who cannot see the image it is a green cover with a collection of Succulents in pots and magic swirls and sparkles in yellow and gold around them.]

Succulents and Spells is about Laurel, a young witch who lives in Wellington’s Aro Valley with her flatmates, familiar, and collection of houseplants, and what happens when she meets Marigold, an excitable, autistic scientist who also knows a few things about witchcraft. It’s about finding identity, monsters, uncovering the past - and there’s a gentle f/f romance underneath it all.

I really hope you like reading it! I’m looking forward to working on the sequel, Microscopes and Magic, in the coming months.

You can see (and pre-order) some of the other novellas here. There will be plenty more to come that aren’t quite ready to be promoted yet - stories about witches across the country, witches who are into baking and tarot cards and protecting the environment - there will be a range of romantic pairings/groupings as well, so I’m pretty sure there’ll be some readings for everyone. I look forward to sharing more with you as I read other people’s contributions to the series.

Two of my favourite writers have debuts out about now: The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg and Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger.

I haven’t been able to order them from the bookshop just yet (I like to talk to them in person but I’ve been self-isolating with a cold, just as a precaution) so rather than shout about works I haven’t read yet here’s how I fell in love with their work:

I adore all of Lemberg’s Birdverse work. It’s about craft and trade and finding ways to live around others and community. It’s powerful and careful and rich and sometimes funny. But there’s one work in particular I keep returning to: the novelette “Geometries of Belonging” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2015). It’s a story about cure and relationships and consent, with a carefully crafted intrigue plot over the subplot - and it hit some incredibly personal notes for me. It was the first time I’d seen so many aspects of my life in story. It was validating and healing and I love this work so much.

The first work I read by Little Badger is still, in many ways, my favourite: the short story “Black, Their Regalia” (Fantasy Magazine, 2016). Not only does it have two of the things I’m most interested in in fiction trains and pandemics (my partner calls me Plague Hipster for being into pandemics before everyone else) BUT it blew my mind. The ending threw me. And I started questioning so many assumptions about the rules of stories and structure and the impact work can have. I love Little Badger’s work in general, but I always come back to this one.

So you can imagine why I am so excited to be getting my paws on booklength work by both of them. I wholeheartedly recommend you do too.

[Disclaimer: when I include Amazon links I use their affiliate programme. I know people have a different range of needs and options when it comes to buying books, and encourage you to also consider independent bookshops and local libraries as options where available.]