If you like LGBT books featuring magical powers, then "Lilla the Accidental Witch" by Eleanor Crewes is the book for you.
What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
I was inspired to write "Lilla the Accidental Witch" after my own experiences of visiting my aunt in Italy as a child. After coming out as gay, and writing my memoir, I thought it would be exciting to reconsider the story from a time in my life that held great importance. My aunt always encouraged my interest in witches, magic and ghosts, so I thought it would be a lovely setting in which to tell the story of a child coming out.
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
Reading stories by authors who excite me with the way in which they construct, express and reimagine the queer experience. Recently I’ve been blown away by Carmen Maria Machado’s "In The Dream House," and for younger readers I loved "The Magic Fish" by Trung Le Nguyen.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books and characters?
It’s very easy to create characters from the model we’ve all come to recognize, and writing with the idea of representation in mind is only the beginning of a much more exciting path. We’ve always been taught that Literature is a tool with which we can expand our minds and world views, and what better way to further that than to introduce characters that are less commonly developed. That’s why I was so excited to write a children’s book, as reading was always so important to me when I was growing up, and having access to the characters we’re starting to see today would have been even better.
Which character in your book did you relate to the most and why?
Whilst writing the book I believe I put a lot of myself into all of the characters. Lilla looks the most like my childhood self, Gio carries the self-doubt and hesitation that I experienced as a teenager, and Ludo represents how I feel now as a more comfortable and assured queer adult.
I put a lot of time into constructing Ludo. It was important for me to ensure that the reader could understand Lilla’s complete awe of her, as that was a feeling I experienced so much as a younger person. But I also wanted to be certain that Ludo stood out as a role model for Lilla, which is why I included simple snapshots of her relationship with her girlfriend Serena. I never wanted any shame to shroud the way in which Ludo lived, as I hoped that in the end, that would be more enticing to Lilla (and the reader) than the idea of living in the land of fae.
What can fans expect from your book?
A hopeful story about witchcraft and coming out!
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
I’m currently developing a collection of ghost stories targeted at YA readers. I’m very inspired by the pioneers of the British ghost story like M.R.James and think Elizabeth Gaskell and am working to combine that with a graphic format.