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  • Davina Stone

Spellbound! Fall in love with spooky romance this Halloween.



To be honest, as a kid I was never a fan of Halloween. Maybe because I had a colossally over-active imagination. I saw ghouls and ghosts lurking in every dark corner of my bedroom. I was positively OCD about closing cracks in the curtains so no warty-chinned witch could peer in, and locked my wardrobe door to ensure goblins had no place to hide.


I blame it on growing up in the UK, a land seriously overloaded with ghosts.


But when I came to Australia, all that changed. Soon I got into the spirit (pun totally intended) of it all, painting my kids' sweet little faces with fake blood, and decking out our house in cobwebs and jangling plastic skeletons. And of course, terrorising our neighbours for lollies.


This Halloween I decided to seek out a few writers in the Aussie romance scene who love to mix a bit of spook into their stories. Apart from being here to tell us about the magical happenings in their books, they also shared who would be their guest of honour at a Halloween party and why.


So pop a candle in a pumpkin, get yourself a plate of Witch's fingers, and settle in for some spell-binding fun.


Louisa West


Tell us what inspired you to write stories of magic and mayhem?

I've always been fascinated by all things supernatural; even from a very young age my favourite TV shows were things like Scooby Doo. When Goosebumps books became a craze in the 90s, I was well and truly in my element. Unfortunately, poor old R.L.Stine couldn't write them fast enough for my friends and I - so we took to trading our books at school. When we ran out, I remember being distinctly disappointed. As we waited for the next Goosebumps book to be released, I decided I'd have a crack at writing a spooky story of my own. The teacher read it out to the class, and a new craze was born. I wish I were as prolific now as my 11-year-old-self was back in the day!

Rosie's story came to me when I was walking my Great Dane through my neighbourhood. I thought about a woman who needed a fresh start, and what that might mean for her. She was a single mother on the run from a bad relationship, and longing to provide a good life for her daughter. My characters usually come to me fully-realised, just like friends I haven't met yet! It took about half an hour on that walk for me to know everything I needed to know about Rosemary Bell, why she left Atlanta, Georgia, for the small town of Mosswood in the dead of night with her daughter in tow, and what her life would be like when she discovered she was a Witch Queen. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you were having a Halloween party who would be your guest of honour, and why?

What a fantastic question! I will be greedy and answer in four parts because I thought about this for ages and couldn't narrow it down! Celebrity: Jack The Ripper. I have been to Whitechapel many times, and done numerous walks to the sites where Jack left his poor victims to languish until found. The case is inherently fascinating to me, and there are so many good theories that I find myself quite uncertain as to what my own might be! So I'd like him to come along to the party to satisfy my own curiosity.

Fictional character: Dracula. The OG of horror, and a literary character that birthed so many more since his inception. Dracula (the book) is written so cleverly and innovatively for its time, remains one of my favourite books, and Old Vlad is just seriously one of the creepiest dudes ever. 

Alive: My best-friend-slash-editor, Kim. She lives in the United States, and it's been almost a decade since we saw each other in the flesh. Even an ordinary day is a party in her presence, and I know we'd have a rad time no matter what, but adding dancing to Thriller and scream-themed cocktails would top it off nicely.

Dead: My dearly departed Nan, who passed away last year at the ripe old age of 93. She was a feisty Yorkshire lass from way back, and she didn't take any crap from anyone. I bet she would have loads of wicked tales to tell about the afterlife, and she was such an unintentionally funny person that I just know I would be in stitches the whole evening! Tell us about your current series, and new releases on the way?

The Midlife in Mosswood series has small town vibes, sweet friendships, a slow-burn romance, and plenty of sass! I want people to feel like they're visiting with friends every time they pick up a Mosswood book and put it down feeling like it was the best escape they've had in a while. Book 1, New Witch On The Block, focuses on Rosie and her daughter Maggie (Magnolia) fleeing a toxic relationship and seeking refuge in the small country town of Mosswood, Georgia. Town do-gooders are a hindrance, so are the sparks that fly when Rosie meets her strange-but-annoyingly handsome neighbour, Declan. Book 2, Jealousy's A Witch, sees a blast from Declan's past arrive to stir things up, and Rosie develop a firm friendship with one of the other ladies in town. Book 3, We Witch You A Merry Christmas shows Rosie really starting to come into her own and learn about her magical family history, even as she struggles with how to have a good Christmas with Maggie on a shoestring budget. And Book 4, Get Witch Quick, sees Rosie needing to find a way to teach Maggie the correct principles of magic, or face some pretty serious consequences!

New Witch On The Block and Jealousy's A Witch are available now. We Witch You A Merry Christmas releases on 15 December, and Get Witch Quick will release on 30 March 2021. I have three more Mosswood books planned for the rest of 2021, but the details are still a bit hush!


More information on Louisa's books, and how to join her Facebook group, Magical Mayhem can be found at her website: http://www.louisawest.com/




Polly Holmes


Tell us what inspired you to write magical mysteries?

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing paranormal or magical mysteries, but never thought I had the imagination for it. I’ve always loved watching shows of that kind on TV, especially Bewitched when I was growing up, then Charmed; and one of my all-time favourite movies is Practical Magic. I was asked last year by an author friend, if I wanted to be in a Halloween paranormal cozy mystery anthology and it was either jump in the deep end, or get left behind. You guessed it, I jumped in feet first and realised I love writing in this genre and especially in first person. I’m now onto book two in the series, Happy Deadly New Year which is out 20th December.

If you were having a Halloween party who would be your guest of honour, and why?

This is a hard one as the list is endless; however, I am going to approach it from a character study point of view. I would invite the Addams Family character, Morticia Addams as my guest of honour. As long as it was American actress, Anjelica Huston playing the role. She has such a stylish and refined quality to her that just screams elegance. She commands the attention of the audience and holds Gomez’s love in the palm of her hand and I would love to study her character for a book.

Tell us a bit about The Melting Pot Cafe Mysteries and your latest release?

The Melting Pot Café series revolves around Evelyn Grayson, her aunt Edie and three best friends, Harriet, Tyler and Jordan (Jordi) who all live in the magical town of Saltwater Cove. Evelyn moved in with her Aunt when she was 11 when her parents were tragically killed. Aunt Edie owns The Melting Pot Café, a witch-themed café, where she and Evelyn work.

This series is fun and flirty, romantic paranormal cozy mysteries where the spells are flowing, and the adventure is just beginning. If you like witty witches, cheeky talking cats, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love this light-hearted Melting Pot Café series.


Details of where to buy Polly's books, sign up for her newsletter, and connect on social media can be found at her website https://www.pollyholmesmysteries.com/ (Polly Holmes also writes contemporary romance under the name P. L. Harris)



Debbie Johansson


Debbie Johansson grew up in Sydney’s inner west, near the largest necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere. A taphophile, Debbie is fascinated by the paranormal, mysteries, and the unexplained. She is the author of short stories, including The Ghost at Willow Creek and Legacy and Other Short Stories. First Christmas will be released in November 2020. When not writing, Debbie enjoys reading, going for long walks, listening to music, and watching too much television. She lives in country NSW with her husband, two children, and a dog named Fox.


Tell us what inspired you to write ghostly stories?

I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and enjoyed a good scary story – ghost stories, especially. I grew up near Rookwood cemetery in Sydney, where my family and I would visit the graves of relatives, and I often wondered what happened to us after we died. We also watched a lot of movies, so Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock and the work of Alfred Hitchcock have really influenced my life and my writing. Recently, I’ve been on a couple of ghost tours and had a few experiences, so these have only heightened my curiosity.

If you were having a Halloween party who would be your guest of honour, and why?

If he was still alive, then without a doubt it would have to be Vincent Price! Growing up on horror, he played a large part in my childhood. When I was ten, I discovered and devoured the Gothic romance novel, Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. It’s one of my favourites and Vincent Price played the role of Nicholas Van Ryn in the film. He was perfect for the role and I absolutely love his voice, which is so well suited to the genre. He could read the book at the party and captivate us all.

Tell us a little about your upcoming release, First Christmas?

First Christmas is a couple of short stories that came about thanks to RWA. One was written for the Aspiring Group, the other was an entry into the Sweet Treats competition. Both are paranormal romances but will also appeal to readers who like historical stories too. I’ve been told they should come with a tissue warning!



To find out more about Debbie and her books and to connect on Facebook and Instagram, visit her website:.https://debbie-johansson.com/



I hope you've enjoyed this little taste of spooky love. Until next month's Davina's Diary, take care and watch out for those "Ghouls next door."


See you in November!


Hugs

Davina xxx


(Title Photograph: Courtesy Kayla Maurais, Unsplash)

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