One question I’ve already gotten a few times about SPELLCASTER goes like this: “How much research did you do? How much did you read up about Wicca? Did you speak to any real witches?”
The answer is — nearly none, nearly none, and no. Because SPELLCASTER is a fantasy novel about witches, and should not be taken in any sense to say anything about the reality of Wicca, its practitioners, or really any of the religions/habits/etc. that have been called witchcraft. Why? Well, first of all, witchcraft has always excited people’s imaginations. This means that fiction gets woven into fact in so many retellings and legends that, unless you’re fully immersed in that world, it’s difficult to weed out what’s real and what’s not. I don’t want to add to that confusion.
Secondly, real life Wiccans and pagans are SICK AND TIRED of being hauled out to serve as villains-of-the-week on TV shows, etc. I know this because I have friends who practice; while most of them find the bad portrayals more hilarious than anything else, I’ve also seen how annoyed they get, and I don’t blame them.
(Yes, the heroine of SPELLCASTER, Nadia, is a witch — but so is the villain. Her Craft can work either way.)
Finally — and, I’ll admit, most importantly for me — is the fact that using real witchcraft would have been too limiting for me as a writer. Making up my own magic system was fun, and it allowed me to bring in certain themes that I might not have been able to address as well any other way. I wanted that freedom, which meant making it absolutely clear that I was using only my own imagination.
That said, there are a handful of real terms that I used. Probably the most significant one is the term Book of Shadows for a spellbook. (I used it for the following reason: That’s just beautiful.) (Now that I think about it, that may be the only term I used, save for things like “the Craft,” etc., which are a lot less specific.) So I added a bit of dialogue in the book where Nadia says she thinks her Craft and Wicca might once have been connected, but they haven’t been for a very long time. Is that enough? I hope so.
I’d never want to add to the misinformation out there. Hopefully it’s clear that SPELLCASTER is pure fantasy.
(Is that an odd disclaimer for a paranormal novel? Not sure — I still get asked whether I believe in vampires!)
(No, I don’t believe in vampires.)