Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Travelling Across, And Up And Down, The Page

I was lucky enough to get a pre-publication copy of Witchlight and I loved it. Here's my review first, then the author, J.S. Watts is going to give us an insight into her writing journey.

Here's my review:

I was lucky enough to receive a pre-publication copy of this contemporary fantasy novel which follows the development of Holly's discovery that she possesses witchlight, inherited by her mother. The problem is that she has lived into her thirties being unaware of this fact. Abandoned in a cardboard box, she was adopted at birth and her adoptive parents live mundane lives in Croydon, Surrey.

The revelation comes from male witch Partridge Mayflower who pops up one day and offers to be her mentor. Holly knocks him for six when they both discover that she has far more power than most witches and now it is important that she traces her birth mother to discover her bloodline.

This light read has a good dose of humour and a little romance. Holly is no push-over and will not be ruled by the Coven who want to keep her on a tight leash—she’s prepared, as she always has, to do things her way. When her grandmother “dearest”, Ninanna, appears I couldn’t help imagining her as Endora from the American sit-com “Bewitched”.

This is no sparkly fairy-tale story. Holly’s angst and some rather fiendish characters set Witchlight aside from other books of its ilk in which the reader would love to become part of the witchy community, and Ms Watts’s “Witchlight” is not a spin-off of other witch-fantasy books on the market. On the contrary, it sits squarely in its own niche and provides an enjoyable and suspenseful read with a surprising ending.

Today, 19th May, Witchlight is published!!!! Congratulations to J.S. Watts!!!


When Susan generously invited me to write a guest post for this blog I naturally asked if there was a particular subject she’d like me to write about. “How about your journey to date as a writer?” Fair enough, I thought and so here I am, pen in hand (I invariably write first drafts of anything long hand), wondering where I should begin this summary of what is, in effect, a lifetime’s journey.

I’ve always been an avid reader and writer. I used to say that my earliest significant writing moment was when I was roughly seven or eight and a poem I had written was placed (second, I think, but I may be wrong) in a cross-borough poetry competition. My mother, however, claims to have physical proof that my first poetry success was at the earlier age of four or five, when a poem I wrote about the beauty of nature was one of two chosen to be read out in school morning assembly. Apparently, for blackmail purposes, she has the original poem in question written in my infant scrawl.

Needless to say, I wrote a number of poems and short stories (and a play, if I remember correctly) during my school days and some even won some prizes. There was a brief lull in my writing activity when I went to university and the pressure of late night essay crises and analysing others’ writing won out over my own creative processes. By the time I graduated, however, my writing was once more on the up and I was back to writing poetry again.

For a while I was doing quite well in terms of the publication of my poems in UK literary magazines, but then, as my non-writing career took off, paid work got in the way. Indeed, the further my career progressed, the less writing I did. I never stopped writing poetry altogether, but the time and commitment needed to keep sending the poems out to magazines (and deal with the hundreds of rejections that come back, as well as the occasional joyous acceptance) weren’t there. Writing became, for me, a totally private pursuit. I always told myself, though, that “one of these days” I was going to see if anyone would publish a poetry collection by me and, maybe, whether I’d got a novel in me.

If truth be told, I spent many years promising myself that “one of these days” I’d endeavour to chance the publishing side of things, but “one of these days” just never came along. I was, I admit, married to my (non-writing) career.

Then, about six years ago, various things came together. Within a short space of time I learned of three people my age or younger who had died suddenly and unexpectedly, which underlined the point that sometimes you can wait too long for “one of these days” to come along. At the same time, changes in the sector I worked in gave me an opportunity to consider a career break. I decided to take a year out to see what I could achieve in terms of writing.

That was then and, six-plus years further across the page, I remain a freelancer, balancing creative writing with the generation of more regular income. In the interim I have written and published a wide range of poems, short stories and reviews in magazines and e-zines in the UK, Australia, Canada and The States. Some have been broadcast on radio. Some have been lucky enough to win a few awards. In 2010, Lapwing Publications accepted my long dreamed-of poetry collection for publication and “Cats and Other Myths” was published in 2011. It was followed, in 2012, by a poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” and a novel, “A Darker Moon”, which was published by Vagabondage Press. A new novel, “Witchlight”, is being published by Vagabondage this very week.

It’s a paranormal tale, with a touch of romance. Like Harry Potter, my main character, Holly, discovers she has previously unknown magic powers, but as she is thirty-eight rather than eleven, all similarities end there.

In fact, when her fairy godfather arrives to tell her she’s a witch, she's suddenly having to come to terms with the uncertainties of an alarmingly magic-fuelled world. Magic, it turns out, is not like it is in the books and films. In a world where appearances can be magically deceptive, Holly cannot afford to trust those closest to her, including herself. Whilst romance blossoms, accidents start to happen and people die. Old Magic is on the hunt, but in the age-old game of cat and mouse, it is not clear who is the predatory feline and who is the helpless rodent.

At the moment, not surprisingly, the fuss and excitement is all about “Witchlight”, but once the dust has metaphorically settled, I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I put together a new poetry collection. I also have ideas for a second poetry pamphlet and another novel. Now that “one of these days” has finally become today, I have no intention of letting it become yesterday.

About The Author: J.S.Watts is a British writer who lives and writes in the flatlands of East Anglia. Her poetry, short stories and reviews appear in a diversity of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States. Her poetry collection, “Cats and Other Myths” and subsequent multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” are published by Lapwing Publications. Her dark fiction novel, “A Darker Moon”, is published in the UK and the US by Vagabondage Press. Her second novel, “Witchlight”, is due out from Vagabondage this week. You can find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/J.S.Watts.page or on her website www.jswatts.co.uk


  1. Thank you so much for having me and my guest post and for your generous review of Witchlight.

  2. I'm glad things came together for your writing journey! Congrats on your book!

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