Paul Mann

The Witch's Code

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The Witch's Code

Kindle Reviews: " enthralling tale that shines within the compelling genre of witch stories..." See more reviews

Writing The Witch’s Code was intended as a kind of treat to myself. And, having earned no money during the four years it took to write ’The Leek Club,’ and with no idea whether it would sell, I promised my eternally patient patroness, my wife, I would write something that might bring in a few dollars.

I liked the idea of a witch detective because I’ve always written in ultra-realism and I wanted to do something that was fantastic and fun. In creating Kate Asher I was looking for a character who every girl wishes she could be and every guy wishes he could have. She’s young, smart and beautiful and she’s on the fast track at Salem P.D. She looks like she’s got it all under control - and then her whole world is turned upside down. She learns she’s not the person she thought she was. She’s a witch with witch powers and witch responsibilities. And, as if it’s not enough being a cop, she finds herself dragged into an ongoing struggle between good and evil for the soul of Salem. Somehow she has to manage her powers and navigate her way through the real world and the supernatural world.

It comes from the fantasy we all had as kids that we had a secret identity, that we were really a superhero with super powers. I’ve always liked stories about how ordinary people do extraordinary things when confronted with extraordinary problems. It tells us that if just for a moment, when we have to, we can all be a superhero. So I wanted to make Kate a credible character with real world problems and explore how she would balance her life in the real world with her life in the supernatural world. Especially when they overlap with often deadly consequences.

The research was a lot of fun and I came out of it with a whole new appreciation of what it means to be a witch. Witches and sorcery have been with us since human beings gathered together in wattle and daub huts in Sumeria six thousand years ago. They started out as innovators with a talent for identifying natural remedies and, to protect their secrets, they cloaked them in spells and rituals. Their knowledge expanded over the years and was handed down generation to generation until long before the modern era there was a treasure trove of information on how to heal common ailments, how to prevent sickness, how to overcome infertility, how to ease childbirth, how to practice basic hygiene and how to live wisely. Witches and sorcerers were combination doctors, psychiatrists, life coaches and financial advisors and some achieved great eminence as advisors to kings and queens. Superstition, ignorance and religious fanaticism inspired a fear of witches that culminated in the witch hunts of the 17th century in Europe and the American colonies to the point where our present view of witches is colored by myth and skepticism. But the thing is, a lot of what witches did worked – like magic.

The Spanish film director Fernando Trueba said recently a story does not have to be real to be a good story. And, however you feel about witchiness you have to admit, it offers a great context for storytelling.