Saturday, 28 September 2013

Month of Guests 2013: Kate Cann

The amazing Kate Cann is here today!  I've loved her since I read Leaving Poppy many years ago and am very excited to have her here today talking about her latest book Witch Crag!!

Witch Crag

I've been fascinated by the idea of the witch since childhood; I tracked them down through books and stories, playing witches was my favourite game, the first book I wrote was a spell book! Many years later, a feminist friend said how healthy she thought this – witches meant female power.

That idea of power stayed with me. And then, years after that, I heard something intriguing about the witch hunts that swept through Europe in the seventeenth-century. In Poland, apparently, women accused of witchcraft would flee to a certain stark, forbidding mountain. Then, to keep themselves safe, they'd spread dark rumours about the evil hags who lived there, and the mountain became a place of terror.

I loved that idea. You're coming after us because you think we're dangerous? Fine, we'll play it your way. We'll create a myth about ourselves so terrifying you won't dare come anywhere near!

So Witch Crag was seeded. I'd always wanted to write a book about witches. I'm not going to take on the might of Harry Potter here, but to me – witches aren't male. And they don't go to school. They're wild, anarchic, female forces of nature, awake to senses that are dull in ordinary people. They're not evil but if you threaten them – they bite back. Anger is a significant part of Witch Crag – anger that can transform into a force for good.

While I was writing Witch Crag, the Arab Spring was bursting forth. That fed into the book too – the young thinking freely and throwing off the corrupt practises and domination of the old. I didn't want to sideline men in the book, either. I wanted to show they can evolve and move forward too. Arc balances Kita.

Witch Crag is a dystopian tale.  I think we have a fearful fascination with - what would we do, if everything stopped? If electricity and water and public transport stopped flowing, and anarchy spread? How would we organise ourselves to survive? They say we're just five missing meals away from total chaos.

When I was planning my dystopian novel Witch Crag, I wasn't interested in depicting people under the brutal yoke of an elite dictatorship. We have that, all too sadly, in the world already. What interested me was how we would start again – how a few people left after a cataclysmic disaster would organise themselves. I imagined a tribe where basic survival became its creed, its law, almost its religion – how hard it would be to think outside that rigid box, as Kita does; how hard it would be to grow beyond it.

I think we're intrigued by how well people would do equipped with only the absolute basics of life – I think there's even a kind of longing for this simplicity. And I wanted ultimately to finish on a utopian note. The extra sense that the witches (and Geegaw!) have - and I believe many of us in the 'real' world have, if we'd only wake up to it - could be used for great good if it's developed harmoniously. If my characters get it right, they'll slowly create a world that's far better that the one we live in.


Thank you so much Kate! I loved Witch Crag and loved hearing more about where it came from!!  
Hope you all enjoyed Kate's post! And don't forget to follow Kate's Site, follow her on Facebook, and check out her books on Goodreads! :D
And keep up to date with MonthOfGuests on Twitter using #MonthOfGuests2013! And stop by tomorrow for a super exciting post - Jennifer L. Armentrout brought Daemon Black for me to interview!!  It's very exciting for me!!


When I was a child, I wanted to be a witch. My first foray into writing was a series of nasty spells full of rats’ tails and bats’ wings. Then, when I turned thirteen, I began keeping a lurid diary, full of adoration or loathing, depending on who I was writing about. I used my later diaries for the Diving Intrilogy. 

I never thought ‘I want to be a writer’, but I loved books and writing. At school, I was rubbish at just about everything but English, so I went on to Kent University where I did two degrees in English and American Literature. At Kent, I fell dramatically in love with Jeff, the man I'm still married to. We had loads of fights and adventures, but we kept coming back together. He's still the person I most want to spend time with. Awww! 
My first proper job was in a publishing house, Time Life Books, as a copy-editor. I felt very glamorous. I used to go to the huge YMCA on Tottenham Court Road at lunchtime and do aerobics classes (very big in the 1980s and yes - I wore legwarmers). Then I'd fall asleep over my desk in the afternoon. 
When my two kids came along, I set up as a freelance copy-editor and worked from home. By chance I got given some teenage books to edit, and I hated the way they treated sexual relationships: they were either full of gloom and doom, or were gushy, unrealistic candyfloss. So I got bitten by the ‘I can do better than this’ bug, and started writing. I remember the first day I started to write - it took me over. I forgot to eat (unthinkable for me) and I nearly forgot to collect the kids from school. About a year after that, Diving In was accepted for publication.