Today I am interviewing Louisa Morgan, author of the new fantasy novel, The Age of Witches.
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DJ: Hi Louisa! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Louisa Morgan: Hi, DJ, and thank you so much for inviting me. I’m a former classical singer, which is probably the most curious fact about me. I’m also a mother, a wife, a devoted yogini, and an equally devoted dog lover. My current dog (who I also think of as my spirit familiar) is a handful of a Border Terrier called Oscar. There are pictures of him on my website–he’s the cutest one of the family.
DJ: What is The Age of Witches about?
Louisa: This is always a hard question to answer concisely, because as the author, it’s about so very many things! This novel is set in the Gilded Age, in 1890. It’s about three women with abilities which they use, with varying degrees of success, to try to free themselves from the pre-ordained roles of women of their day. It’s also about a very sweet, very gentle man whose life is as proscribed as those of the female characters. In addition, there’s a hefty dose of herbalism as well as horsemanship (horsewomanship) and a good bit of cultural critique.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Age of Witches?
Louisa: As a Downton Abbey devotee, I became fascinated by the wealthy American girls who were more or less sold off to obtain noble titles. It’s a complex and rather strange history, and I was deeply interested in what became of these girls after the grand marriages and the handover of the dowry. I’m always interested in horses, and herbalism as well, so that came naturally for me. And witches–well. I’m into all things magical.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Louisa: I find this particularly interesting because of the rather large cast of The Age of Witches. I don’t think I’ve had four point-of-view characters before, and while it was a challenge, I’m convinced it was the right choice, because each of them looks at the same situation from a different perspective.
I think of the novel as essentially the story of the oldest protagonist, Harriet, who at fifty years of age has a wealth of experience and knowledge (and power) but is lonely. My first reader thought the principal character was the youngest, Annis, who is coming of age in a society where her life has been decided for her in advance. The discovery of her power is a transformative experience for her, and for the reader, the intrigue is to learn how she decides to use it.
Annis’s stepmother, Frances, is also a woman of power, but one who takes a darker path, for reasons of her own. And James, the Marquess of Rosefield, is an old-fashioned gentleman, who knows his duty, and means to fulfil it. Meeting Annis shakes his world to its core. I know that sounds like a love story, but it’s much more than that–it’s a societal disruption, a jolt to take these characters into the twentieth century.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Louisa: I love minor characters! I always strive to make certain that each member of the supporting cast has a story of his or her own when possible. In this case, James’s mother, the Dowager Marchioness Eleanor, is my absolute favorite. I love her so much I almost made her a point-of-view character. She is a woman of old-school nobility, who see her life as one of duty and honor, and who regards her deep affection for her son as a weakness rather than a strength. She is, in a way, a bridge between the old world into which she was born and the new one, which will be created by young women like Annis, who fight to shed the constraints of traditional society.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Age of Witches like?
Louisa: Since it’s a historical setting, and because I’m essentially a writer of historical fiction, the details of government and society are strictly those of the Gilded Age, the waning years of the 19th century. It’s a time of great inequality between the ultra-rich and the very poor. Society of the time is poised on the doorstep of enormous change, and there are many who resist that, who cling to the habits of the past.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Age of Witches?
Louisa: I was always happiest writing magical scenes! I love spells and the rituals used to perform them. I love visualizing women wielding power.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Louisa: Hmmmmm . . . a hard question to answer! Several readers have told me they found this rather light-hearted novel soothing to read while we’re all dealing with the panic and chaos of a pandemic. It’s not exactly a happy ending (I really, really don’t do romance) but it’s not a dark one, either.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Age of Witches? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Louisa: I never set out to write feminist fiction, but in the end, I find I’ve always done just that. I certainly, with all three of my witch books, intended to write about women who either have power or acquire it.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Age of Witches that you can share with us?
Louisa: Yes! The book opens with one:
“Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.–Harriet Bishop, 1890”
DJ: Now that The Age of Witches is released, what is next for you?
Louisa: I’m at work on one more witch book, a prequel to A Secret History of Witches. Enough fans asked to know more about the great witch Ursule that I was intrigued myself, so the novel I’m writing now is her story. The next book will be something quite different, although still historical.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Age of Witches that we haven’t talked about yet?
Louisa: I’d like to mention the Audible version of the novel, because it’s so beautifully narrated. Polly Lee is the reader, and she’s just magical. I got to choose her myself, which was a thrill! (She also narrated A Secret History of Witches, and it was so good I sometimes forgot, as I listened, that I actually had written those words!)
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Louisa: I just hope all your readers are staying safe and staying healthy! It’s a great time to stay home, read a lot, and stay in touch in safe ways.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Louisa: Thank you so much, DJ!
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***The Age of Witches is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Harriet Bishop, descended from a long line of witches, uses magic to help women in need — not only ordinary women, but also those with powers of their own. She must intervene when a distant cousin wields dangerous magic to change the lives of two unsuspecting young people… one of whom might just be a witch herself.
Frances Allington has used her wiles and witchcraft to claw her way out of poverty and into a spectacular marriage with one of New York’s wealthiest new tycoons. She is determined to secure the Allingtons’ position amongst the city’s elite Four Hundred families by any means necessary — including a scheme to make a glorious aristocratic match for her headstrong and reluctant step-daughter, Annis, using the same strange power with which she ensnared Annis’s father.
Louisa Morgan writes historical and mainstream novels. As Louse Marley, she is an award-winning writer of fantasy and science fiction