Hello everybody! Today, I’m super excited to be part of the blog tour for Skye McKenna’s wonderful debut Hedgewitch, which I reviewed in this post. Onto the post, in which I was lucky enough to interview Skye about her writing!
1.Hi Skye, thank you so much for being here! First of all, can you please describe HEDGEWITCH for us in 5 words?
Witches aren’t born, they’re made.
2. This is your debut, so I was wondering what has your writing journey been like up till now? What has been your most exciting moment on the road to publication, and what moment are you still looking forward to?
I spent many years teaching myself to write and rarely sharing my work, so the last 18 months have been a bit of a whirlwind by comparison. I signed with my agent in October 2020, got my first book deal in early 2021 and Hedgewitch was published in April 2022 – that may sound like a long time, but it’s lightning fast for publishing! There have been a lot of exciting moments, but holding the very first copy of the finished book has to be up there. It never seems quite real until you have it in your hands. I’m looking forward to seeing it side by side with Woodwitch (book 2) on the shelf and I’d also love to meet a young reader who enjoyed it and hear their thoughts.
3. You already know this because I’ve told you, but Montague was undoubtedly my favourite character. I’m sure he’d object to being called a sidekick, so I’ll instead ask who your top 3 animal companions in books are?
Reepicheep the mouse from the Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis, Wiz the hare from Harriet’s Hare, by Dick King-Smith, and Throgmorten the cat from The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Diana Wynne Jones.
4. Something else I really loved is how unique your magic system is, and especially the fact that it’s kind of like Girl Guides but with magic. Were you part of a club like this growing up? What gave you the idea to turn it into a fantasy book?
I was in the Brownies and Girl Guides and my father was a Scout leader, so I was involved with the movement for most of my childhood. I knew I wanted to write a story about girls learning magic but didn’t want to set it in a school. I happened to see an old photograph of Girl Guides from the 1910s, when they wore wide-brimmed hats and carried poles that were essentially broomsticks. It was a happy coincidence and allowed me to develop a witchcraft that was outdoorsy and hands-on rather than academic.
5. Perhaps on a similar note, I love that in your world magic isn’t inherited or only available to the chosen few. Was it very much a deliberate thing to have it be a skill you can learn? And do you think you would like having magic, and if so what skills would you like?
I thinks stories where the main character has supernatural powers are a lot of fun – they appeal to that side of us that likes to imagine we have secret hidden talents or a special birthright. However, I rather prefer the idea that magic can be learned by anyone if they put their mind to it. I also wanted the magic in Hedgewitch to come from the natural world and from Faerie, so understanding those realms is really the key to being a good witch. I’d like to learn ‘mending’ which is the healing magic that Tabitha is especially interested in, but I’d also love a flying broom!
6. I also need to mention how incredible this world you’ve created is in general, because I loved it so much. What are your favourite parts of it? Do you think you’d enjoy living in Hedgely? What are you most excited to explore in the rest of the quintet?
I would love to wander down Loft Street in Hedgely and would definitely visit Widdershin’s bookshop. I’d also like to stay at Hartwood Hall and see the Hartwood tree, but most of all I’d want to explore the Hedge; the great enchanted forest that lies between England and Faerie. I’ve always been fascinated by forests and I get excited every time Cassie enters the Hedge because I never know quite what will happen there. I’m looking forward to exploring other parts of Britain that have a connection to witches and faery folk in the next few books, and meeting more witches and faery characters.
7. In terms of writing this world, what were the most fun and challenging parts? What tips would you give to people looking to craft their own fantasy settings and magic systems?
I always enjoy world building and it comes far more easily than crafting compelling plots. Once I had an idea of how the Hedge, Hedgely and the Hedgewitch were related, the rest of the world came to life quite naturally. My advice is probably different to a great many fantasy writers, but I recommend letting your world be a little ‘messy’ – the real world is rarely neat and orderly, and so imposing too much order on fiction makes it feel artificial. Magical worlds should retain a bit of mystery and not be too bound to rules, especially when you’re writing for children. That sense of wonder is more important than clever systems.
8. Also on the theme of writing, what’s your writing routine like?
On an ideal day, I get up about 6 o’clock, eat breakfast and write until 9 o’clock when I start my day job. I get to write for longer on the weekends, which is nice. That is not always possible though, so often I just grab an hour here and there when I can, but I’m very much a morning person and quite useless after 8 o’clock in the evening.
9. Finally, before a couple of quickfire questions, can you tell us anything about book 2 in the series? I’m already so excited for it!
Woodwitch will see Cassie and her friends venture deeper into the Hedge, encountering the ancient faery creatures that reside there. Cassie will also uncover more family secrets and struggle to protect Hedgely from a shadowy threat.
Since I love your nature photos on Instagram, your favourite moment you’ve ever had in nature?
Probably the first time I met a red squirrel in a Scottish forest – it was telling me off but I was delighted!
Song you have stuck in your head right now?
Happily, just the blackbird singing outside my window.
The animal you’d most like to be for a day? A swan – so I could fly but would stay fairly safe from predators.
3 books you’ve enjoyed so far this year?
The Sky Beneath the Stone, by Alex Mullarky, A Snowfall of Silver, by Laura Wood and Fearsome Faeries, edited by Elizabeth Dearnley.
3 2022 releases you’re excited to get to?
The Secret Wild, by Alex Evelyn, The Asparagus Bunch, by Jessica Scott-Whyte and The Frost Fair, by Natasha Hastings.
Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna (£12.99, Welbeck Children’s) available now.
Thank you so much for reading! Are you planning to read this, or have you already read it? Which debuts have you read and enjoyed this year so far? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!
2 thoughts on “Hedgewitch Blog Tour: Author Interview with Skye McKenna”
Brilliant interview as always and it’s definitely been the extra nudge I needed to try Hedgewitch now rather than wait for the pb!
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Thank you so much!! I really do hope you enjoy it xx
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