Award-winning author Louise Marley has long been one of my favorite writers. From the chillingly prescient The Terrorists of Irustan to the deeply touching The Glass Harmonica, to the YA "Horsemistress" series (as Toby Bishop), to the music-themed Mozart's Blood and The Brahms Deception, the scope and insightfulness of her writing mark her as a major voice in fantasy and science fiction. Her newest novel, The Great Witch of Brittany, will be released in February 2022.
Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to be a writer?
Louise Marley: Like so many of us, I was an avid reader as a child, and it followed logically—since I am by nature a performer—that I wanted to write stories myself. My musical ambitions dominated the first part of my life, but I always meant to return to writing. It has been amazing to learn how much the two careers have in common.
DJR: What inspired your book?
LM: There is no one factor that inspires any of my novels, but the witch novels definitely had their origins in my fascination with witchcraft and the practice of it. I had fallen into the habit of writing historicals, and so the historical settings for A Secret History of Witches and now its prequel, The Great Witch of Brittany, came naturally.
DJR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?
LM: I love many writers, from the Western authors I read as a girl to the Golden Age gothic mysteries to the great feminist science fiction writers of the latter half of the 20th century. I’m often inspired by the most recent really good novel I’ve read, and I find that enriches my own imagination. I’m not tempted to copy, fortunately, but I learn and absorb from some of the amazing prose and incredible plots I find. Thrillers have been my most recent indulgence, and wow! do those writers know how to plot!
DJR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?
LM: I’m extremely lucky to be in a place where I can write what I want to write. My last four books have featured witches and witchcraft, and I do hope they have my own particular stamp on them, which is working witches—women who have to study and practice and explore to make their magic work. I’ve found that the witch genre has many facets, and lots of excellent writers are working in it, with results that vary from terrifying to downright funny.