Blog Posts

Ravens and riddles

I love ravens. A “conspiracy” of them dwells in the woods behind my house. When I stand on the balcony outside my writing studio in the loft of our barn, my “perch” puts me nearly eye to eye with them. I talk to them daily and delight in any squawk, chortle, tuck or caw the give in reply. They may not always respond, but they’re always watching. It was inevitable that one of these intelligent, beautiful creatures would come to inhabit the pages of one of my novels. Enter, Perdu, the magical raven who lives with The Witches of New York. For fear of spoiling his part in the story,

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A picture is worth…

While working on a project, (whether a novel, play, or piece of non-fiction,) I surround myself with images that relate to the writing. This part of my process becomes especially important with historical fiction, since I’m striving to create a world that I hope readers will “experience” as they read the book. With The Witches of New York, I wound up with loads of period photographs and illustrations that I pinned to the walls of my writing studio or kept on my laptop for inspiration. A few of the images even found their way onto a thumb drive that I carried with

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Advice for New Witches

Writing a novel can take years. The Witches of New York took five. Along the way, I learned a lot of things about the world and those around me, and above all, myself. One of the biggest revelations that came to me while writing this novel was the realization that magic is everywhere. And the more you’re open to it, the more it will present itself to you in ways large and small. In August, I was given the wonderful opportunity to share a night of storytelling at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts. I was supposed to meet

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the first day of autumn

I woke up Thursday morning to the joyful sound of honking geese wafting through my window. Their “conversation” was filled with impatient exuberance and, as Joni Mitchell once wrote, “the urge for going.” A lone raven that often perches atop one of the spruce trees beside my house barked a string of surly caws to send them on their way. It was the first day of autumn—a time of passing, a time of new beginnings, a time of change. The Witches of New York begins on the cusp between seasons—when the heady, bright days of summer are giving way to

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step right up!

On Monday I posted a six second video teaser of this amazing thing-ma-jig on Facebook and Twitter. The video was shot from the back, where all you could see were the inner workings of the contraption, rather than its swanky facade. I’m pleased to announce that this lovely contraption (designed and constructed by my talented husband, Ian McKay) has now been installed at The Box of Delights Bookshop in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. As you can see from the placard that graces its front, it’s being used to issue tickets for the upcoming launch of The Witches of New York at

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when it pains you not to speak

I’m reclaiming the word witch. To do so, I’ve got to take things all the way back to its roots…which are, much like the way we regard the word itself—shadowy, misunderstood and not completely clear. Even renowned scholars of etymology can’t quite agree on how it first sprang up, but they all admit its origins are tantalizingly old, stemming from times and places where those labelled with the word witch were revered rather than reviled. Here are just a few of the earliest meanings to be found in the word’s possible origins: One who bends (like a willow,) one who dances and makes mysterious

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