Author Sibéal Pounder talks about writing a companion book to her middle grade Witch Wars series, Witch Snitch.
What is Witch Snitch about?
Witch Snitch is all about Witchoween (the witch equivalent of Halloween), when witches throw a big party and celebrate each other. Peggy tasks Tiga with making a Witchoween documentary all about the weird and wonderful witches of Sinkville, so she sets off with Fran (who is presenting), Lizzy Beast (who is on camera duties), and Fluffanora (who is head of wardrobe), to interview some old favourites and new characters – including Felicity Bat's big sister Idabelle, and Melodie McDamp, who runs Sinkville's mermaid museum.
What inspired the book?
I was so inspired by all the incredible Witch Wars costumes created by readers and all the fun things they send me. One reader made Broomstick Boom! – a board game that gets a passing mention in book 2. She made the board, counters, tiny broomsticks, the works, all from that barely-there reference. I loved the idea of writing instructions for how to create Witch Wars costumes, or brew a Clutterbucks cocktail. And the story itself was inspired by some of the incredible women I know and recent events. There's been a lot going on, particularly over the last year, and seeing things like the women's marches all over the world is a reminder of how strong we are when we're together. There's a chant one of the Witchoween witches comes up with in the book, which goes "witches together are stronger than spells". There's also a lot of falling headfirst into foodstuffs, which isn't inspired by anything, aside from perhaps what I was eating when I wrote it.
Why did you decide to write a companion story to the main Witch Wars series? How is this book different from the others?
My genius editor, Ellen, and I are always admiring all the cool things the readers create from the books, and we thought it would be fun to incorporate things like that into the story, so when people are reading about Tiga and Fluffanora having a Clutterbucks cocktail, for example, they'll get the recipe so they can brew their own. In many ways it's still a typical Witch Wars book, only it's more interactive. You can go all out and celebrate Witchoween with your friends, using the instructions to throw your own Witch Wars party this Halloween! You also see more behind the scenes – Idabelle, Felicity Bat's sister, isn't in the other books because she's too busy working at the Place Where The First Witch Landed In Sinkville, or being in the popular witch clique, The Points. So we get to meet some characters we ordinarily wouldn't see – to get a little peek at what else goes on when Tiga and co are on their adventures.
What was the inspiration for the world of Witch Wars?
Lots of things, really! Dublin played a big part. It's where my family are from and I would have so much fun over there when I was little – it's such a hilarious place, filled with the best characters. I was also really inspired by "Absolutely Fabulous". The first time I watched it I was only nine (not age-appropriate, most of it went over my head), but I remember being struck by the fact that the core cast was made up entirely of women – Eddie, Patsy, Saffy, Mrs M, Bubble. They drove the plot and owned the jokes and were all so different. I was blown away by it as a kid (and am still a huge fan). I wanted to create a similar feel (but kid-friendly), with lots of different and wonderful witches, driving the plots and owning the jokes.
How do you and Witch Wars illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson work together to create the books?
We, weirdly, tend to work separately when it comes to Witch Wars, with Bloomsbury coordinating things. I finish the text and then the team at Bloomsbury hand it over to Laura, and she gets to work on illustrating it. We're friends and meet up and eat cake and laugh about nonsense, but work pretty separately. We have a similar weird humour and from day one we've just really "got" each other. She's amazing.
What can we expect next from the Witch Wars series? Are you working on anything else at the moment?
The next book is out in October 2018 and I'm not allowed to say much about it just yet but I'm due to start work on it very soon. At the moment I'm working on the next book in the Bad Mermaids series, sitting on the floor next to a huge watery map of many hidden places...
Witch Snitch is published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 5th October.