Author Laurel Wanrow and I met through an online group for novelists of young adult books a few weeks ago. She announced the publication of her newest novel, Witch of the Meadows, and that it had an environmental theme. We discussed that we both had eco-fiction/contemporary fantasy novels and decided it would be fun to do a blog swap for Earth Day 2018. I interviewed her for this blog, and she is interviewing me about The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy for hers. Here's a blurb for Laurel's novel:
For months, seventeen-year-old Fern has been sneaking out on her mother—really sneaking out—through a magical portal to an island halfway around the world. There, the grandmother Fern never knew existed needs her help rejuvenating their ancestral land. She has always been good at growing things, but that’s not magic. And magic is what the island needs.
With its energy running out, the land is breaking apart, and the caretakers demand a real witch to take over the Meadows, not a teenager with a green thumb. Elbow-deep in dirt, Fern confronts a splintered community, unsure who to trust, but grateful for the support of a Scottish boy who looks at her with green eyes shining with magic—and something more powerful.
Caring for this land is Fern’s birthright, one she longs to claim. But to take her place in this magical world, Fern must first figure out how to use her unique gift.
THE WITCH OF THE MEADOWS begins the journey of a generation of magic-wielders as they restore their connections to nature and community.
That cover is gorgeous! I love the colors so much!
Here's my interview with Laurel Wanrow about The Witch of the Meadows.
D. G. : From Colorado to an Irish isle is a massive change of scenery for Fern. How did you decide on the two locations for your story? Is the island based on a real place?
Laurel: I’m originally from Colorado and have many connections to it, including a family property very similar to Fern’s cabin in the mountains. I admit to choosing the isle because it was far-flung and romantic sounding—who doesn’t wish they could travel somewhere in a snap? It instantly gave Fern an ordinary world—one I know very well—and new world to explore and learn about. I had to do that, too. The magically hidden Isle of Giuthas—which means the Isle of Pines in Gaelic—is patterned off of the Isle of Man. For the most part, I used Manx flora and fauna, but took liberties, particularly with the ancient stands of Scots Pine the islanders are protecting—they are a native species to the British Isles, but don’t reach that size today.
D. G.: Fern is a witch with magical powers that help the land become more fertile. How did you come up with this interesting concept and magical gift?
Laurel: Some people would like magic to do things like fly or ace an exam. Fern’s love is growing plants, and in The Witch of the Meadows, she wants more than anything to help her Gran. Her magic is simply making that wish come true.
D. G.: Is Fern aided by other magical creatures besides the winged wizards? When I think of Ireland, I’m thinking of leprechauns, elves, or fairies. Do they play a part in this nature story?
Laurel: Sadly, no mythical creatures live on the isle. However, several of the Windborne wizards have an affinity for wildlife and are able to communicate with the isle’s native animals…and Fern, being descendant from them, might just share that ability.
D. G.: Fern is a very appropriate name for a girl whose magic is connected to nature? How did you decide on this name?
Laurel: As readers delve deeper into the story, they’ll discover that Fern isn’t the only one who has been named for a natural element. * grins * I specifically chose a plant-related name because of Fern’s affinity for plants…though how a parent would know that upon seeing a newborn would be…magic.
D. G.: Are you interested in gardening or farming yourself? Tell about your relationship with nature and how it affected your writing this novel.
Laurel: I love nature. I’m a life-long camper and hiker, love plants and animals and frankly find any wild place I go fascinating. Nature has been around me my entire life since I grew up as a kid of a National Park Service naturalist. I followed in the same career, earning an Outdoor Recreation degree and working at a number of parks and nature centers ‘before kids’ and a bit afterwards. While homeschooling my son, I turned to writing as a creative pursuit, and naturally my interests and background in teaching environmental education crept in.
I do garden. I’ve never been a super-successful vegetable gardener but, like Fern, I grow flowers of all kinds, sticking mainly with natives. I think of it as more of an extension of exploring nature—experiments to see what I can grow and what those plants will attract: insects, salamanders, birds, snakes, frogs, raccoons… I’m always thrilled to find an animal in our garden.
(A side note: While I haven’t farmed, I really like the dream of living on a farm, so much so that my other series, The Luminated Threads, takes place on a farm—in a valley of shapeshifters and magic-wielders, of course!)
D. G.: This is the first book in this series. Do you know how many adventures Fern will have?
Laurel: Fern has a major role in the second novel and will appear in a number of other planned stories. That said, I’m a ‘panster’ writer—I write by the seat of my pants—meaning I don’t yet have the entire series plotted out. This is a community of wizards, each with special gifts used for working with different habitats on or around the Isle of Giuthas. As the series unfolds, stories will feature different teens who are working with the isle’s various habitats. Fern cannot specialize in everything, and I think it’s important to note that no one gets things done alone. We need to work together within our communities of like-minded people to make things happen, in this case, to save a special island—which I hope readers understand represents saving the earth, our island home.
Thank you, Donna, for having me on your blog!
D. G.: You're so welcome. I'm looking forward to reading The Witch of the Meadows.
You can find The Witch of the Meadows in ebook and print at the following vendors:
Amazon Kobo iTunes Nook
And please visit Laurel Wanrow's Blog to read my interview with Laurel about my YA fantasy series The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy.
Before kids, Laurel Wanrow studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower walks and answers calls about the snake that wandered into your garage. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils, and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.
Visit her online and sign up for her new-release newsletter at www.laurelwanrow.com.
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As always, I welcome your comments. Feel free to roam around my website and read some excerpts from my books. Happy Earth Day! Remember to recycle and reuse.
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D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.