The Apprentice Witch
by James Nicol

Publisher: Chicken House 
Publication Date: July 7th 2016

Arianwyn has fluffed her witch’s evaluation test.

Awarded the dull bronze disc and continuing as an apprentice – to the glee of her arch-rival, mean girl Gimma – she’s sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull. 

But her new life is far from boring. Turns out Gimma is the pompous mayor’s favourite niece – and worse, she opens a magical rift in the nearby Great Wood. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, a mysterious darkness begins to haunt her – and it’s soon clear there’s much more than her pride at stake …

with James Nicol

1.     What was the inspiration behind The Apprentice Witch?

It was a combination of wanting to write a story that had magic at it’s heart but was also set in a world where the magic was real and everyday and not a secret.
The main character popped into my head one day she was casting a spell in a garden at night. I wrote it all down in a furious hurry and then took it from there!

2.     How did it feel to see The Apprentice Witch develop from your initial idea into a physical book?

SO amazing! But there were so many milestones between that initial idea and seeing the book whizzing around the printers warehouse that it’s all been pretty exciting one way or another. Seeing so many other people invested in something that I really just made up is a little bit weird in the most wonderfully bonkers way!

3.     Where did your love of writing come from?

From my love of stories and my love of reading. I think all writers are really just over excited readers who get a bit carried away. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and its very handy to have that when you are trying to write a book. Books have a great power to transport us, give us knowledge and to inspire us and I have always been fascinated by that.

4.     Who was your favourite and least favourite character to write and why?

Oh, I loved writing ALL the characters, each one for different reasons. They were all needed to create the story and all play their part. Some of the more minor characters  like Mr Thorn who drives the bus and Aunt Grace and Uncle Mat where trickier as they are not in the book as much as others so you don’t have so much chance to develop them on the page. Actually some of the more unpleasant characters were perhaps more fun to write than they should have been.

5.     What was your biggest challenge writing your first book?

Knowing what I was doing as I really didn’t know how to go about it! I wrote out of sequence, had about 36 different word documents on my laptop and wrote myself into several corners and out again (thankfully!)  Thankfully I was accepted to work with The Golden Egg Academy for Children’s Writers and they helped me a great deal from sorting out the structure of the book to helping to find my authors ‘voice’ I would not have gotten this far without them, and it certainly wouldn’t have been so much fun!

6.     Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes! I’m pleased to say that Arianwyn and her chums will be off on another adventure next year sometime in book 2, so I’m writing that currently and thinking about a 3rd adventure for them for 2018!

7.     Lastly describe your book in five words… Go!

YIKES!!! Magic, friendship, courage, enchantment, adventure!

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