To All the Paranormal Black Girls I’ve Loved Before, a guest post by S. Isabelle
Jailah didn’t look like the Chosen Ones in books and movies. She’d been given the support to succeed but had never been told that she was destined for legendary greatness. There was no prophecy placed on her head, no witch that foretold her future to her parents on the night of her birth.
No swords to pull, curses to break, lore to be fulfilled.
So, she’d make her own.
-From chapter 8 of The Witchery
Without a doubt, one question that an author will be asked in the lead-up to a book release is what inspired you to write this book? As a debut, I was initially determined to make sure that I had a different response every time I was asked, so that if there was someone out there reading all of these interviews (*cough*, my parents) I wouldn’t sound repetitive. I would waffle between what route to take. Do I gush about my love of superhero team-ups and ensemble casts? My obsession with witchy media? My desire to write a book for teens that centered friendships rather than romance? Either way, I always included a mention of my One True Goal: to expand the canon of Black girls in paranormal/horror media.
Black girls in much of the popular speculative media I grew up reading and watching were offered very few storylines or goals. You might be a BFF-Bonnie, existing purely to sacrifice yourself on behalf of the white protagonist, or an Abbie, egregiously sidelined (and eventually killed off) in your own show to make room for white characters, or if you were lucky, you’d get to live to be a walking source of education for the white audience through racism. We should all want more for Black teen readers, and The Witchery grew out of that desire.
In YA specifically, the SFF books I had as a teen maybe had one Black character on the side. Today, I can give my library-teens Liselle Sambury’s Blood Like Magic, Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn, Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water, Riss M. Neilson’s Deep in Providence, and Lauren Blackwood’s Within These Wicked Walls, to name a few books that teen-Sophie would have killed to have (and adult-Sophie is thrilled to be publishing alongside).
Prickly Iris, ambitious Jailah, calculating Thalia, and sunshine boy Trent are my dream cast of imperfect Black teens in a fun, dark narrative, and I can’t wait to share them with the world.
Meet the author
Sophie Isabelle is a reader, writer, and hoarder of books. After earning a Master’s degree in library science, she took that love of reading to youth librarianship. Her short story “Break” was featured in the anthology Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA. The Witchery is her debut young adult novel. When she isn’t throwing books at teenagers, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, drinking heavily-sweetened coffee, or stressing over baseball.
About The Witchery
“The Witchery is a dark, delicious delight. S. Isabelle is a debut to watch.” —Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation
The Haunting Season is here and the Wolves are awake.
Haelsford, Florida, is a hellmouth. Or at least, that’s what Logan, a new witch struggling to control her powers, thinks when she arrives at Mesmortes Coven Academy. She is immediately taken under the wing of the infamous Red Three: Iris, a deathwitch, who wants nothing more than to break the town’s curse; Thalia, the talented greenwitch, on the run from her religious family and a past that still haunts her; and Jailah, one of the most extraordinary witches at the academy whose thirst for power may lead her down a dark path.
With the Haunting Season approaching, Wolves will soon rise from the swamp to kill, and the humans and witches must work together to survive the yearly onslaught. However, the history between humans and witches is long and bloodied, with the current truce hard-won and hanging in the balance. And this year, the stakes couldn’t be higher as two boys from Hammersmitt School prepare to make their first sacrifices to the witches in exchange for protection. But when students start turning up dead, Iris, Thalia, Jailah, and Logan realize they’ll have to harness their powers and stop the Wolves themselves. Yet old dangers lie in wait, and the cost to break the curse may be greater than any witch or human could ever know…
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/26/2022
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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