Witch Dust by Marilyn Messik
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) When my children were small I used to do a lot of writing for women’s magazines including a diary series (nowadays we’d call it a blog) on the ups and downs adventures and misadventures of life with a toddler and a baby.
I also set up a business selling party goods. The business grew and I took a shop and then opened a second one. In my spare time, I trained and taught as an ante-natal teacher, this at least meant when life was stressful in the shops, I knew how to lie back and breathe in short pants!
When I sold the shops, I set up an advisory, planning and travel booking service specialising in New England, USA. I also launched a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour accommodation guide. In 2007, I set up a copywriting consultancy, working with small to medium sized businesses.
I’ve written the Little Black Business Book series and the novels Relatively Strange and Even Stranger. Been married to a very patient husband for more years than he deserves and we have two children, five grandchildren and several grand-dogs.
Witch Dust – Synopsis
When you’re brought up watching your father saw your mother in half most nights, it’s not always easy to know what’s what.
Sandra, daughter of Adam Adamovitch – God’s gift to women and the entertainment industry – and the lovely Ophelia, who can throw a wobbly, faster and farther than anyone else, is regretfully aware that average isn’t ever going to describe life with her parents. She’s further put out as she grows, to discover circles within circles. Take the difference between real magic – hours of rehearsal and carefully crafted collaboration involving carpenter, mechanic and performer – and the other, far fishier business her mother resorts to when push comes to shove. Mercifully, Sandra finds that people, witnessing the impossible, generally re-work things in their own mind – moving swiftly and smoothly from couldn’t possibly have happened, to unlikely, to that’s not what I saw at all.
When Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest it proves a chorus girl too far for Ophelia and Sandra is caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her – and she’s had thirty years of bizarre – is somewhat unnerving.
From being without a single relative, not only does she suddenly acquire several she’d far rather do without but also learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things.
There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as she can between herself, her newly discovered family, their peculiar tendencies and the possibility she might be more like them than she wants – the happier she’s going to be. But Ophelia, mistress of emotional blackmail, has suddenly developed not only a conscience but an intractable determination to act on it
Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. The ghost of a hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist, all handled correctly should, she reckons get the family hotel enterprise up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can and in the opposite direction.
And it should all have worked out nicely, but in coming to grips with this particular family tree, nothing it seems is straightforward. Things move rapidly from bad to farce. And isn’t it amazing how quickly events can slide the slippery slope from dodgy to disastrous to lethal. One moment Sandra’s struggling to get a marketing campaign off the ground to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives.
Amongst new-found nearest and dearest are Mimi who’s cultivated vagueness to the nth degree; Felicia who retired hurt to her room twenty years ago and hasn’t come down since and entrepreneurial Cousin Bella, with a line of beauty treatments which, whilst gratifying are not always predictable. Presiding over all is indomitable matriarch, Etty Goodkind – short on patience and money, over-endowed with dependents and forced to swallow her pride and turn the family home into a country house retreat which is heading neither for profits or Hotel of the Year Award.
For someone who simply yearns for a life more normal, Sandra finds herself hurtling at breakneck speed in entirely the wrong direction, it seems she’s stirred up all sorts of problems which, for everyone’s health and well-being, were best left well alone.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) I don’t know exactly where my ideas come from – which in many ways is a little concerning, but we won’t dwell on that.
The writing process is always initially a bit stop and start until I get into the rhythm of the book and then it becomes like running – if you’re a runner you need to run every day and if you don’t, you feel there’s something missing. In the interests of honesty, I should point out that the very last thing I am is a runner (no, not even after a bus!) but the writing routine, once you get into it is addictive and I think endorphins are probably involved, so you get what I mean.
Because I’d been in charge of my own publishing set-up when I worked on the travel books, I wanted to publish my fiction independently – I love all the stages of the publishing process. In fact, I only fall flat on my face when it comes to publicising and promoting myself and the books, when I suddenly discover I want to put a paper bag over my head – pretty darn useless huh?
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) Goodness, this list could go on and on but because I’m guessing your time and patience aren’t endless, I’d say John Connolly, Stephen King and Alex Marwood are probably at the top of the list. My favourite reads? Probably Time and Again by Jack Finney, The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) As a child, I loved John Wyndham and anything and everything by PG Wodehouse. As a teenager Georgette Heyer was perfect and of course Beverley Cleary’s Fifteen was almost compulsory. Loved Daphne Du Maurier but also used to have the wits scared out of me by Dennis Wheatley – particularly remember The Devil Rides Out. Don’t think I slept for two weeks after that one.
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) Writing a book’s a bit like having a baby, you can’t believe it’s eventually going to make an official appearance. There’s also the feeling that you’ll love it but you’re not sure anybody else is will, so uncertainty abounding! But probably the best moment was having one of my granddaughters say she was ‘Head over heels in love with my book.’ The best review I could ever have.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) My husband, our cockerpoo and Cadbury’s!
*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
MM: Thank you for letting me waffle on. Xx