Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Interview with April Aasheim Author of The Witches of Dark Root

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I live in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. I am married, a parent, and have just found myself the ‘mommy’ to a four-month old kitten whose teeth could rival that of any vampire’s.
I was inspired to write in the paranormal genre because I grew up in a world of ‘magic’. My mother was a dabbler and having things like Ouija boards and crystal balls around the house was the norm. Later, she stopped dabbling and embraced the New Age culture of the mid 80’s. She taught me about crystals, empathic healing, spirit guides, and channeling. Though I’m not a practitioner my mother opened my eyes to the possibilities that there may be something more going on in our world than we can see with just our eyes.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book was not originally about witches. It was originally about a woman who leaves her hometown and is forced to return to care for her sick mother. It wasn’t until I sat down and typed out the first sentence If I were a real witch, the kind you read about in storybooks… that I realized there was more to this story than I had at first thought.
Please tell us about your latest release.
The Witches of Dark Root is about four sisters who return to their hometown of Dark Root, Oregon, The Most Magical Town in the Pacific Northwest, to take care of their sick mother. The story is written from Maggie Maddock’s point of view, a young woman who, since birth, has possessed some extraordinary powers that she doesn’t really want. But in order for her to save her mother and her town, she must learn to embrace her abilities. In a nutshell it’s a story about love, family, healing, and magic.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
I don’t have a formula for creating names, I just follow my intuition. In The Witches of Dark Root Maggie’s name is short for Magdalene, named after the bad girl of the New Testament. Maggie was given this name because her mother sensed that her strong-willed, red-haired daughter was going to cause her all sorts of problems. And of course, she was right. But the reader learns that Maggie isn’t bad, she just has her own ideas about life, just like the rest of us.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Maggie was the most challenging character for me to write because she was so multi-layered. She was both selfish and giving, vain yet unconcerned about what others thought of her. She could turn from kind and warm to angry and sulky with the flip of a switch. She’s a conflicted individual and it was a challenge to showcase all these elements of her personality while keeping her relatable and sympathetic.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I LOVED writing the character of Maggie’s younger sister, Eve. Eve is the dark seductress type, the flippant girl we’ve all met who is more concerned with her looks than her brains. She is also the type that will speak whatever is on her mind without caring if she comes across as a bitch. Eve is so much fun and will figure prominently in future books.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I love experiencing life so every time I’m presented with the opportunity to try something different, I generally dive in. Because of this I’ve joined a cult, attended a séance, consulted with a psychic medium, and sat in on an exorcism. These were all experiences from my past that had nothing to do with this book, but I feel they enriched my writing in this genre.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
In the first book we are introduced to Maggie, her sisters, and her mother. In future books we will learn more about the families history, particularly Maggie’s mother, the town’s coven leader. She has an interesting story of its own.
Also, I don’t get into the history of the town of Dark Root too much in this book, but in future books we will learn (spoiler) that Dark Root is a vortex, or a magical spot in the world, much in the same way some people view Sedona, Arizona. In a vortex magic is heightened increasing the powers of Maggie and her sisters as well as some of their enemies.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
Maggie, Merry, and Eve are all aspects of myself (and probably many women). Maggie is the self-doubting, guilt ridden woman with a quick tongue and a temper. She is also constantly questioning herself and her decisions. She was the me of my teenage years. Merry is the Earth Mother, the healer and compassionate counselor. I would like to think that Merry is the me I became after having children. And Eve is the beautiful temptress who can get whatever she wants with a wicked, dimpled smile. She is the me I try and become when I put on high heels and lipstick for date night with my husband on Friday nights. Try being the operative word.
Do you write in different genres?
I have another book and maintain a blog that fall more in line with the humor/chicklit genre.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
I think of myself as a storyteller. If a story comes to me, I write it, regardless of genre.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
I’m a junk food fiend, another quirk I passed on to Maggie. I eat my Twinkies and Oreos vicariously through her.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I love studying religion, history, archeology, and psychology. I also love to talk to people and hear their stories. I could spend my whole day listening to someone tell me how they came to be who they are. I think it’s very important to hear someone’s story. It puts our own lies into perspective.
What can readers expect next from you?
I’m currently working on The Magick of Dark Root. In the spring or early next summer I will be working on the sequel to The Universe is a Very Big Place, my romantic comedy.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Twitter: @aprilaasheim
FB: aprilaasheimwriter
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
“Dark Root, Oregon. The most magical town in the Pacific Northwest...” Shane recited the town’s slogan after a long silence. “Bet you are excited to get back.”
I was leaned over the seat, rummaging through my open bag in the back of the cab.
It was less full now that I was wearing half my wardrobe. Finally, I found my package of Oreos and pulled them into the front. I hadn’t eaten since morning and my stomach was not happy. Once I had scarfed down a half-dozen cookies, I responded to him.
“First of all,” I said. “Towns can’t be magical. Secondly, you are terrible at small talk. Thirdly, I’m not staying in Dark Root. It’s just a stop until I figure things out.”
“How can you say towns aren’t magical? You of all people should believe in magic, considering your upbringing.”
I snorted. “Why? Just because I am a supposed descendant of Juliana Benbridge, our town’s first witch?”
“Well, yes.”
“It’s just lore. And lore isn’t necessarily true,” I said, offering him a cookie which he took. “Especially when a town’s economy is based on it. Lore is used to sell postcards.”
“Well then, Dark Root needs a new slogan,” he laughed.
“Among other things,” I said.
Shane flipped on the radio, settling on one of those sad, storytelling songs on the country station. It was sappy in all the wrong ways.
“No one has ever proved that magic exists,” I argued, realizing I could have let it drop and wondering why I didn’t.
“No one has disproved it either. And...” he added thoughtfully. “Sometimes people want to believe. Nothing wrong with that. Makes life more interesting.”
“Doesn’t mean they should.” I thought of Michael, staring absently out the window, wondering why Woodhaven was failing. “When you get too locked into a set of beliefs, you can’t see anything else.”
I blew on the window, watching the fog cover it. I began to etch out my name, or at least the first few letters. The fog had lifted before I could write the letter ‘g.’
“No magic, huh?” He opened his console and handed me my cell phone. “Well, how do you explain the fact that your phone called me, even though you had dropped it in the parking lot? Had I not gotten the call and heard you scream, well...” Shane scratched his head and blinked his eyes.
Was that how he had known I was in trouble? I had never asked.
“I had just programmed in your phone number,” I replied, trying to come up with a logical answer. “When it hit the ground, it dialed you. Lucky coincidence on my part.”
“Uncle Joe used to say there are no coincidences. He said there are forces in the world at work, whether we see them or not.”
“That’s the problem with coincidences,” I said. “You can never prove them.”
“You’re jaded, Maggie. I’m not sure why, but it’s kind of sad. I hope Eve hasn’t become jaded, too.”
Hearing him speak Eve’s name darkened my mood. I turned the radio dial away from his hillbilly crying music. I found a station playing Metallica and I blasted it, mostly because I thought it would annoy him.
Instead, he started banging his head to the beat.
“I’m going to sleep,” I said, closing my eyes.
Surprisingly, he kept the radio on the heavy metal station. We listened to songs from Van Halen and Motley Crew. Then ‘For Those About to Rock I Salute You’ came on. My eyes flipped open. Shane was drumming his fingers against the wheel.
“Please, turn this off,” I said. But he didn’t hear me. I sat up and repeated my request, this time louder. “Please, turn this off.”
He gave me a curious look. “You picked the station.”
“Turn this off now!”
A spark shot from the radio and then it went quiet. Shane did a double take as he fiddled with the knobs. Nothing came on, not even static.
“You did this?” he asked, his face a mixture of fear and incredulousness.
I didn’t respond.
“You did this,” he repeated, a smile spreading across his face. “Maggie. What they say is true. You are––”
“Careful,” I said, looking at him out of the corner of my eye.
“...Special,” he concluded, shaking his head in disbelief.

The Witches of Dark Root
The Daughters of Dark Root Series
April Aasheim

Genre: Paranormal/Fiction
Publisher: Dark Root Press

Date of Publication: June, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0615819327
ISBN-10: 061581932X

Number of pages: 350
Word Count: approx. 112,000

Cover Artist: April Aasheim

Book Description:

Deep in the forests of Central Oregon is a town called Dark Root, a place shrouded in secrets, mystery, and witchcraft.

But for Maggie Maddock, Dark Root is also a prison, a place where she is forced to spend her days working in her mother’s magick shop, forfeiting any dreams of her own. So when a mysterious stranger suddenly appears and offers to take her away from it all, Maggie jumps at the chance.

Now, seven years later, a strange phone call sends Maggie back to Dark Root and she is unprepared for what awaits her: a dying town, a sick mother, a renewed sibling rivalry, and a past she had hoped to forget.

Part Practical Magic, part Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Witches of Dark Root is a tale that seamlessly weaves the normal with the mystical, the mundane with the fantastic. Zipping in and out of time from Maggie’s childhood as an apprentice witch to current day, where Maggie struggles with her increasing powers, as well as family obligations, The Witches of Dark Root is a book rich in both fantasy and heart which will leave readers believing in magic.

About the Author:

April Aasheim spent her childhood traveling the Southwestern portion of the United States with her fortune- telling mother and her get-rich-quick dreaming stepfather. During that time, April and her family toured with a carnival company, sold bug repellant door to door, and resided in an abandoned miner’s shack in The Superstitious Mountains of Arizona. 

When April became a teenager she went to live with her biological father in California. Her father saw April’s need to express herself and encouraged her to write her stories rather than tell them. By learning to write April was able to make sense of her family and the world she lived in. She continues to do that to this day.

April currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She is the mother of two incredible sons and the step-mother to a beautiful little girl. She is the author of numerious short stories, has contributed to several anthologies, and is the author of the well-received novel: The Universe is a Very Big Place.

The Witches of Dark Root is The first in the Daughters of Dark Root series and April looks forward to writing the second book in 2014.

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