Welcome to this months Indie Author spotlight. This month i am featuring the very talented, multi-genre and award winning author Sarah Northwood. Before i share an excerpt from the first book in the YA Fantasy series The Westwood Witches, Sarah has shared her process on how she got the idea for this series and how it wasn’t always easy.
Ideas are interesting things; what inspires them, are they always conscious and where do they come from?
Around two years ago when I was trying to come up with ideas for my next book, I found myself feeling stuck. Lacking in confidence with what I had already written and just generally not feeling it. I think I was partially suffering a bit of a hangover from the last book I’d written too.
At the time, my eldest daughter, who does not really enjoy reading all that much, wanted to read some of my psychological/thriller stories. I didn’t feel these were appropriate for her really as they are for over 18s but obviously I wanted to tap into her enthusiasm.
Then in my newsletter, I featured an ask the author section and one of my lovely friends asked the question, Would I ever write about witches? The immediate answer was no, after all with books like Harry Potter around, there’s no way I could compete or could bring anything new to the genre. Or could I?
Anyway, another great author friend of mine suggested that I help my flunk by taking a blank piece of paper and doing some free writing. This is where you literally sit down with no ideas and let your mind go where it wants to. Scary stuff!
But out popped the prologue to this story and lo and behold it was about magic. It seems whilst my conscious mind would never go there if I just let my imagination have a little rope, it would!
As I developed the idea, it became clear that real events in the world also influenced the story. Whilst I try not to be especially political, readers I’m sure will connect with the analogies of the social issues I’ve touched on.
The first book in my young adult fantasy series, The Westwood witches, A Secret Discovered was born out of all these things. Stirred up in my imagination, in the cauldron of my mind, all I needed to do to set it free was say the magic word. Or rather, in this case, write them!
Two years later and A Secret Discovered is now an award-winning story and I’ve recently released the second in the series, A Sorcery of Shadows.
Writing a series is a new adventure but I especially loved developing the story and characters further and watching as things got a whole lot darker. I’m excited to be plotting out the third book in the series and I know there’s going to be some great stuff to come.
Who knows, perhaps there is something magical about letting your subconscious take over once in a while?
Blurb Aero trembled as she held the box sealed inside black paper. The dilemma was a difficult one – her mum had told her the box contained secrets she might not be ready for. Once she opened it, there would be no going back… Aero has always felt like a misfit and an outsider. Thankfully, having a best friend like Lilly, along with a grandma like Joanna, makes life worth living. But a terrible event tears her world apart, and Aero Westwood is about to discover that her family has more secrets than most.
Aero had always been fascinated by Grandma Joanna’s ability to turn up at family events just at the right time. It appeared to her that Grandma had a special sense when things were about to turn ugly. Then suddenly she would arrive, with a few new magic tricks up her sleeve, to be greeted with a chorus of oohs and ahhs. Whatever argument had been about to break out would disappear and every family member from the youngest who could just about sit up, to the eldest who needed a comfy chair to sit down on, would gather around and pay attention. Joanna would give her signature cough, announcing to all that the show would begin, and a hush fell over the room. Every single person waited with anticipation to see what new magic she came up with. Aero loved everything about her grandma, even the way her grey thinning hair flopped about as she leant forward to give one lucky person the chance to choose a card. She always tipped her own chair and herself as far forward as possible, hoping she might get picked. Sometimes she was! Aero relished the way her grandma’s tired eyes were still playful. They would sparkle with something that looked almost like the sun had slipped inside them, as the excitement in the magic trick mounted. The ability to diffuse a situation with a few card tricks might not seem incredible but Grandma Joanna’s tricks were mesmerising. You could say that her granddaughter wanted nothing more in life than to be exactly like her. Aero’s family was close, even those who she thought of as aunts and uncles but were distant relatives. Her dad was an only child and her mum had one sister; with all the joys a family brings, disagreements seemed to be a natural part of the equation. Family gatherings were something of a regular event in the family home, usually marking the beginning of a school holiday or a weekend, and were almost always held at the Westwoods’ house. Inevitably, at some point a discussion between a couple or sometimes more of the guests would turn darker and an argument would erupt. They loved to speak out on all kinds of things, and though it took a while before Aero understood what they were arguing about, she couldn’t help but be entertained by the sheer theatre of it all. It was then that Grandma would appear, as if summoned on command, and lo and behold the rows would be forgotten. The partying could continue, often into the late hours of the night. Life was magical. Grandma Joanna, grey-haired, with a tall thin face, which looked like worn-out leather, had been that way for as long as Aero could remember. She simply never seemed to age, and all was well with the Westwoods, her family, until that dark day Grandma passed away. As she was elderly, Aero supposed she should have expected it, but death has a way of creeping out from dark corners and taking you by surprise. To this day, she wasn’t sure exactly how old Grandma had been when she died, but whatever the age it was too young, as far as she was concerned. She remembered it well, because not only did Aero lose her great love and hero but the year marked her seventeenth birthday, and although she didn’t know it then, everything would change.
It was this year the secrets of the Westwood family were exposed, when Aero learned Grandma Joanna had been murdered. A year when something dear was lost and more than one thing was discovered.
About The Author
British fiction author Sarah Northwood lives in a small village with her husband, two children and writing companion, a King Charles Spaniel. She is the author of multiple books, which cover poetry, psychological thriller and children’s works. When not writing, she enjoys making good piano music sound passable and inventing new pieces.
Her poetry books include: Butterfly Dreams, The truths We Tell and Little Moments of Calm.
Her children’s books include: Unicorns are real and other cool poems, Legend of the Night Unicorn and Aerwyn, the girl who dreams.
Her thrillers include: The Unravelling, The Volunteer and She’s Not Gone.
“Growing up in a little town, I was surrounded by animals and a loving family. However, I never quite knew what I wanted to be when I was older. I’ve spent most of my working career working in science until a new life beckoned. Now I believe in never growing up! I am a Wife and Mum to two wonderful girls, who rock my world, they inspire me every day. I enjoy writing stories for children and adults. I’m a fan of romance, rhyme, poetry and composing songs. In addition, I also work part-time at my local school, which I love! I have a trusty companion, Charlie, who is my King Charles spaniel. Wherever my adventures take me, he is by my side.”
You can follow Sarah Northwood on social media to hear about special offers and her latest projects:
or look at her website and check out her blog:
Purchase Links for all of Sarah’s Books
The Westwood Witches (book 1) A Secret Discovered
The Westwood Witches (book 2 ) A Sorcery of Shadows
Chilling thrillers (18+) that should not be read alone!
The Unravelling: viewBook.at/learnMorenow
The Volunteer: getBook.at/Horror
Short story, The House That Evil Made:
She’s Not Gone:
Best Friends Forever, A free short story:
Little Moments of Calm
The Truths We Tell
Life According to Poetry
A big thank you to Sarah for sharing that with me. I hope you my followers have enjoyed reading the excerpt and that you check out this fabulous authors books.