Sunday, October 9, 2022

Q&A with Jenna Evans Welch




Jenna Evans Welch is the author of the new young adult novel Spells for Lost Things. Her other YA novels include Love & Gelato. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Q: What inspired you to write Spells for Lost Things, and how did you create your characters Willow and Mason?


A: During the height of the pandemic, a wonderful group of women invited me to be part of their "moon circle." We started meeting during the full moon--usually outside--to discuss our lives, magic, and anything else we were interested in.


It quickly became my favorite night of the month and I started researching more about pagan and witch traditions. I ended up learning a lot about tarot and spell work, and I was so delighted by it all I knew I had to write a book about it. 


Willow's character came from my own love of travel and struggles to feel at home in the world, and Mason showed up without me planning for him! He was one of the easiest, most enjoyable characters I've ever written. In my early 20s I worked for an organization that supports teens aging out of foster care, so they were always a group that has been on my mind. 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, "While the romance is strong and believable, the bulk of Mason’s and Willow’s attention is focused on negotiating their relationships with their respective mothers..." What do you think of that assessment, and how do you think the book portrays mother-teen relations?


A: I loved that the Kirkus review picked up on that! I have always tried to balance the romantic relationships in my books with other relationships that I believe to be just as important (family, friends, etc.) So much of the teen years is about learning how to navigate relationships, and the mother-teen relationship has so many layers to explore!


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I had some vague ideas about the ending, but (like all my novels) it went through many different versions before I landed on the book that is now on shelves. I tend to start with a general concept and a few key scenes and the rest takes me a long time to figure out. I wanted the ending to be satisfying, hopeful, and imperfect!


Q: How do you see the role of magic in the novel?


A: I wanted the magic in this novel to be partially left up to the reader--they get to decide how much is coincidence/fate/magic and how much was just chance. I tend to see the world as a subtly magical place, I think there are so many amazing things going on that we may not even notice, and I was excited about exploring that in the novel. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Resting! I am currently taking my first writing break in close to eight years--I have a lovely window of time to recuperate and decide what I want to do next. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am extremely excited about this novel and its early reception, particularly because I found it so difficult to write! Spells was a much more complex work than my previous books and I'm very happy with the way all the different narratives came together.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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