Today Astoria Wright is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Mysterious Merchandise, her first novel in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.
Welcome, Astoria. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
AW: Mysterious Merchandise is the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series. The story begins when antique shop salesclerk Alice Adelcraft follows a black cat into an alley, which turns out to be an entire hidden street with stores exclusive to witches and wizards. That’s right! There’s a secret magical community in Alice’s college town of Urbana. But that’s not all. Along with A Witch’s Thrift Shop, Alice finds a dead body! Now, she has to find the killer and keep the others from finding out she’s not really a witch, or they’d wipe her memory – all of it!
It’s one mystery after another on Magic Row. Join the fun and intrique by reading Mysterious Merchandise today!
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
AW: I love thrift shops! You can always find something unusual, rare, or unique. Occassionally, I also find a thing or two that makes me ask: What is this? Maybe it’s something magical. And maybe there are customers out there who know just what to do with these magical items.
My first thoughts were of a character named Alice, working in an antique shop where these strange customers come in looking for those kind of magical items. Then, I thought: What if there was an antique shop, or better yet, a thrift shop with inventory just for those kind of customers – witches and wizards? Thus, A Witch’s Thrift Shop was born.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
AW: Yes on both! The theme in all the books I’ve planned for the series is about belonging and connection. We live side by side with others and we don’t connect. I live in a community where I don’t know most of my neighbors. Sure, it’s peaceful and quiet, but that’s not a community. In some cities, connection and community are so rare I’m sure there are hidden communities that we don’t know exist. OK, maybe there’s not one like Magic Row, but who knows?
As to the subject matter – Alice’s identity is in question through each book and that will be a topic underlying the series as a whole.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
AW: I don’t know. They just kind of appear on page. I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I do really like the main character in this series, Alice. She’s down to earth, can be defensive but recognizes that about herself, and is protective of people she sees as vulnerable because she sees herself in them. She has a lot of growing to do and I’m glad to be able to write about that.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
AW: Urbana was a name I made up, because I wanted a cozy mystery about a smaller community within a larger urban setting. The character of Alice I felt like belonged in a city and specifically a college town. But, and here’s the weird part, there is exactly 1 town in the USA named Urbana. And it’s a college town!
I will say that the Urbana in the books is not meant to be the one that exists in real life. Whenever I write a setting, I draw from books I’ve read, movies and shows I watch, but more than anything from my own experiences. I’ve lived in cities, small towns and even in another country for a while. But I’ve never been to the real Urbana and couldn’t describe anything about it accurately. So, the Urbana of A Witch’s Thrift Shop is, for all intents and purposes, a completely fictional place.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
AW: When I first got the idea, I read about witches & wizards, various systems of magic (fictional and real), orphans, and how foster care works to get ideas about the characters. For settings, I use Google Images to help me picture various backgrounds and then I sort of merge images in my mind to create a fictional place. I have to see it in my mind – so, yes, I’ve got a city, the streets, the layouts, etc. in my mind that I can “travel” through as the stories unfold.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about th: e book?
AW: If you like paranormal cozy mysteries, black cats, witches and wizards, genies, and all things magical, I hope you’ll pick up this book.
Thanks for answering my questions, Astoria, and good luck with Mysterious Merchandise, the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Astoria Wright: She is a cozy fantasy author and a poet who is inspired by rainy days, good books, and positive people. She is often found sitting by a window or in her backyard sipping tea or coffee and writing or reading cozy mysteries, fantasy novels, or poetry. Join her mailing list at www.astoriawright.com to see stories, poems, and thoughts that she only shares there.