Out now, The Witch’s Kiss is an exhilarating new fantasy YA novel about love, family, fairy tales and witchcraft. We sat down with the book’s authors, Kate and Elizabeth Corr and asked them a few questions about their inspiration, influences, and what it’s like to write with a sibling…
How did you begin your writing partnership?
We’ve both written separately since childhood (short stories and poems mostly) but only for ourselves. Then in 2012, Liz started working on a novel, but got stuck. Kate was taking some creative writing classes at the time so offered to help out a little bit. However, working together proved to be so much fun that ‘helping out’ turned into a proper collaboration, and by mid-2013 we’d completed our first manuscript. After being nudged by family we submitted to some agents, but only got as far as a couple of full manuscript requests. We came up with the idea of The Witch’s Kiss in June 2014, decided to work on that instead, and sent it out to agents in January 2015. This time we got three offers of representation before picking RCW.
Please give us an outline of The Witch’s Kiss in your own words.
The Witch’s Kiss is the story of a male sleeping beauty, an Anglo-Saxon curse, a family of witches and an oath, handed down from generation to generation to an untrained – and unsuspecting – twenty-first century teenager.
Merry and Leo are siblings, living an apparently ordinary life in an English market town. But as the only untrained witch in a family of witches, Merry is finding it difficult to stop magic taking over her life.
Her day-to-day problems seem less important, however, after Jack, an Anglo-Saxon prince, turns up in her bedroom. At his christening, fifteen hundred years ago, Jack was cursed by an evil wizard, Gwydion. On his eighteenth birthday he would become the King of Hearts: a killer who slept by day and cut out the hearts of lovers at night: One of Merry’s ancestors placed Jack and Gwydion into an enchanted sleep. But now Jack has woken up, and Merry has inherited the task of breaking the ancient curse that still binds him.
There are obstacles in her path, not least the wildly erratic nature of her own magic and the fact that her own abilities terrify her. Things get even more complicated when she starts to fall in love with Jack, despite believing that she’s probably supposed to kill him. But time is running out: Merry’s life is now linked to the curse, and failure means death…
How did the idea first come about?
Liz was thinking about dark fairy tales, and reworking fairy tales, and the image of jars with hearts in them popped into her head. She came up with the idea of a wizard who collected hearts for magical purposes. She got on the phone to Kate, who suggested a male, Anglo-Saxon sleeping beauty, who’d been cursed by this wizard. Two days later we had drafted a 14 page outline of the novel.
How do you write together? Are there challenges that come with writing with a sibling?
We both like having an outline to start from, even though the outline gets re-written as the work develops. It means that we can divide up the writing, usually taking alternate chapters. After we’ve written a chapter the other sister can edit it. Technology makes everything much easier: we keep all our files in the cloud, using Dropbox, so there’s no need to email stuff back and forth.
There are challenges. Sometimes we both want to write a particular chapter. Sometimes Kate wants to go darker and Liz won’t let her. Or she gets really picky about grammar. Sometimes Liz wants to re-write chunks of Kate’s dialogue. There are arguments about the direction of the plot, and about whom we should kill, and when. But mostly, we have a lot of fun together.
Which authors do you most admire?
Both – Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett
Liz – Issac Asimov, Susan Cooper, Cassandra Clare
Kate – Neil Gaiman, JRR Tolkien, Rainbow Rowell
Is there are a particular book/s you wished you’d written?
Liz – Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets
Kate – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
What is/are your favourite fictional character/s?
Liz – Granny Weatherwax from the Disc World series, and Will Stanton from The Dark Is Rising.
Kate – Elizabeth Bennet, Eowyn (LOTR), Simon Snow (Carry On)
If you had to live in a classic fantasy/imaginary world (from books or movies), which would you choose?
Liz – Hogwarts (after the defeat of Voldemort, obviously!).
Kate – London Below, from Neverwhere, or Narnia.
Which countries would you travel to if you could go anywhere in the world?
Liz – Ireland, for the romance, or Alaska, to experience the Northern Sun.
Kate – New Zealand (glaciers, hobbits) and Norway (glaciers, Vikings).
How can fans connect with you?
Elizabeth and Katharine Corr have been writing since they were children. They keep in touch any way they can, discussing their work via phone, text and skype, and have been known to finish each other’s sentences – and not just when they are writing!
The Witch’s Kiss is out now.