Friday, September 13, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Witches of Dark Root by April Aasheim

The Witches of Dark Root
By April Aasheim

Genre: Paranormal/Fiction
Publisher: Dark Root Press
Date of Publication: June, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0615819327
ISBN-10: 061581932X
Number of pages: 350
Word Count: approx. 112,000
Cover Artist: April Aasheim
Available Here: Amazon


Deep in the forests of Central Oregon is a town called Dark Root, a place shrouded in secrets, mystery, and witchcraft.

But for Maggie Maddock, Dark Root is also a prison, a place where she is forced to spend her days working in her mother’s magick shop, forfeiting any dreams of her own. So when a mysterious stranger suddenly appears and offers to take her away from it all, Maggie jumps at the chance.

Now, seven years later, a strange phone call sends Maggie back to Dark Root and she is unprepared for what awaits her: a dying town, a sick mother, a renewed sibling rivalry, and a past she had hoped to forget.

Part Practical Magic, part Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Witches of Dark Root is a tale that seamlessly weaves the normal with the mystical, the mundane with the fantastic. Zipping in and out of time from Maggie’s childhood as an apprentice witch to current day, where Maggie struggles with her increasing powers, as well as family obligations, The Witches of Dark Root is a book rich in both fantasy and heart which will leave readers believing in magic.

This book was quite intriguing and was much more ya-ya sisterhood than it was practical magic but the story was still pretty dern great... This book is a lot more about family bonds and sisterly love and connections than witches and Magick. The story starts out (after the prologue) with Maggie at Wood Haven. Maggie has been gone from home (Dark Root, OR) for 7 years and is at Wood Haven (a cult-like religious community where the members aren’t allowed electronic communications or even to use clocks or watched ….. basically... a place I would NOT love to be.. lol) Maggie receives a call that her mother is ill and Michael (the man that talked Maggie into leaving home for him and his cult) keeps urging her to go. And while I get the idea that this is strange for Michael to be so pushy for her to leave… It wasn’t until we learn of Michael’s affair that it sinks in a bit more… Anywho… Maggie decides to leave Wood Haven with help from her friend Jason (Who btw I was shocked that Maggie didn’t have more of a thing with because they seemed amazing together) When Maggie gets home she finds out that her home town is having a hard time and is no longer the busy and bustling city it was when Maggie had left. Maggie keeps on that this is only a short visit to check on her mom even though she is thrilled to be reunited with her sisters Merry and Eve and her niece she knew nothing about... After being persuaded to attempt to bring the town to life with the annual Halloween festival they learn there is a curse on their home and the sisters have to use their magick for good to chase away the evil and overcome demons and old family mysteries… I think that Maggie, Merry, and Eve all had some very strong personalities and came together very nicely even though they all had their own very distinct differences. I LOVED June Bug!! I think that Leah should have a bit more character development seeing as she was the major plot twist but all in all this was a very good book.

I give this book 4 shields!

Harvest Home, Dark Root, Oregon
October, 1995

“Maggie, wake up.” Merry jostled her sister, rousing her from her nap on the couch.
Maggie sat up, rubbed her eyes, and looked around. For a moment she forgot that she was in the living room of Harvest Home.
“Already?” Maggie asked, pushing herself onto elbows.
A loud chime coming from the grandfather clock confirmed that that it was midnight, time for the ritual. Maggie felt the chill from the open door and looked around for her sweater.
“We aren’t supposed to wear anything other than our robes tonight,” Merry cautioned, but helped Maggie into the sweater, anyways.
“Where’s Eve?” Maggie asked. If she was going to have to wander the woods in the middle of the night for some crazy ritual, then Eve better be up, too. Maggie saw her standing by the door, jumping up and down, not tired at all.
Miss Sasha and six of her friends emerged from the dining room, talking excitedly and exchanging knowing glances.
“You girls ready?” Miss Sasha asked. This was to be their first grown up moon chant and Miss Sasha could hardly contain herself. She noticed the sweater Maggie wore over her long blue robe and frowned but didn’t mention it.
Merry, Maggie, Eve, and Ruth Anne followed their mother and her friends into the night.
It was cold and the sisters shivered as they wound their way along an old dirt road shrouded by trees to a circular clearing, a half-mile away. The girls had played in the clearing many times during the day, but this was the first time they had seen it beneath the light of a full moon. The grass looked dewy and lush as the soft light fell upon each blade, but the trees that surrounded the meadow looked foreboding and ominous, as if their long, twisted boughs were ready to snatch the girls, if given the chance.
“What are we doing here again?” Maggie asked, as they made their way towards the center of the circle. “...And how long do we have to stay out?”
The adults moved to a point in the very center of the clearing and the girls positioned themselves a few dozen feet behind them.
Ruth Anne surveyed the area and sat, cross-legged, on the moist grass. “We are rooting out the evil spirits that are trying to infest Dark Root.” Her voice was as flat and informational as an encyclopedia entry.
She reached into the pocket of her dress and pulled out a key-chain flashlight and a comic book and started reading.
“How do we do that?” Maggie asked, watching as the elders––five women and two men––linked raised hands towards the sky.
They began singing, a soft melodic chant that Maggie had heard before.
Merry answered, “Every fall, the Council of Seven places a protective spell around our town. It must be done before the second half of the year begins, on November 1st. It keeps out the dark energies and ensures that the circle is strong.”
Maggie hopped on one foot, and then the other, trying to find warmth in the chill of the night. “But why do we have to do it now?” she moaned. “When it’s so cold?”
Ruth Anne responded, never lifting her eyes from her book. “It’s the witching hour. According to legend, the hours between twelve and three AM are when all things magical, including witches, are at their most powerful.” She turned the page of her book and cracked a smile at one of the drawings. “...It’s too bad we can’t keep out the crazy.”
Maggie widened her eyes. “But if witches are the most powerful now, won’t the bad things be more powerful too?”
“I’m scared,” Eve said, jumping in place as the elders continued their chant. Eve liked magick, but only the lighter arts, and those that yielded her a reward.
Merry took Eve’s hand and kissed it, and Maggie latched onto Merry’s other hand.
“I’m scared, too,” Merry fibbed.
Merry wasn’t afraid of anything.
There was a long silence, followed by the heavy beat of a loud drum. Miss Sasha looked over her shoulder at her daughters, letting them know that it was almost their turn. They had been practicing the spell for weeks now, and Maggie hoped she wouldn’t forget the words.
Ruth Anne set down her comic book and the four girls clasped hands and waded towards the center of the circle.
Miss Sasha nodded and the girls began their incantation.

As the Witching Hour chimes
And the whole world sleeps and dreams
We join our hands in sisterhood
Staving back the darklings
The circle stands, its shape eternal
Though the darkness is still beckoning
Our light will ward back the infernal
And shield us from the doomsday reckoning

Maggie was still tired and stumbled on a few of the words, completely missing some of them; however, Merry spoke them as loud and clearly as she recited The Pledge of Allegiance at school. All the while, Eve played with her hair and hardly tried at all. For her part, Ruth Anne recited the words without emotion, anxious to get back to her comic book.
“Who wrote the spell?” Ruth Anne had asked their mother earlier that day while they were preparing. “It doesn’t sound right.”
“It doesn’t matter if it sounds right or not,” Miss Sasha had explained. “It’s the power of words––especially when spoken in numbers––that matters. When we stand together, no enemy would dare traverse the boundaries of Dark Root.”
Maggie caught a movement to her right. She thought she had seen a dark form take shape and then vanish. And then another. Were they coming or going? She couldn’t tell.
Can you please share with us a little about yourself:

I am the second oldest of four girls. We moved a lot when I was a kid so my sisters became my best friends. We created our own little world together, writing and starring in our own plays, sneaking peeks at rated R movies on HBO when our parents would fall asleep, and pretending to be ‘witches’, able to cast spells and change the circumstances of our surroundings. It is my relationship and love for my sisters that inspired me to write my book The Witches of Dark Root.

Have you always wanted to be an author?
Oh yes. Without a doubt. I discovered early on that I had a ‘flair’ for telling stories. Sometimes it got me into trouble. Sometimes it got me out of it. But they always seemed to entertain so I kept at it. Originally, I wrote short and while it was fun, I really wanted to sink my teeth into writing a novel. There is something very gratifying about pouring your soul into a character’s world and living with that character for a year or more. It’s like they become real, and I guess, in a sense, they are.

Can you share with us your typical writing day.  Is there anything you have to have while writing?
I’m pretty random. I write at different parts of the day and in different rooms. Some days I like to write with the TV on, some days I need it to be very quiet in my house. Every once in a while I will head to a coffee shop so that I can have other people around me. I do try to write in the morning, when my ideas are still fresh, but other than that I don’t have a ritual. Except for Diet Coke. I can’t write without a diet coke. Or four.

Most challenging or rewarding part of writing?
The most challenging part of writing is making sure that I’ve created a complete story without loose ends. There’s nothing that can make me grimace more than reading back a manuscript and realizing that I left out a key piece of information that needs to be woven back in.
As for the most rewarding part, it’s actually typing out the words The End and then reading back my book and finding it beautiful. Maybe not perfect, but beautiful.

Can you please tell us about your latest book?
My latest book is called The Witches of Dark Root, the first book in The Daughters of Dark Root series. This story is about a powerful witch named Sasha Shantay who is raising her daughters to follow in her footsteps. But like many young women they have their own ideas about what they want to do with their lives and one by one they leave their hometown to pursue other options. Now, in their twenties, they return to Dark Root and discover that their mother is ill, their town is dying, and the only way to save either of them is to embrace their magical roots.

How did you come with the idea for this story?
Originally, this was a simple story about four young women who return home to take care of their ill mother, but one day while daydreaming, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if they all happened to have magical powers as well? And so they did.
Also, writing this story was a way for me to live out my fantasy of residing in a small town, owning an apothecary shop, running a bed and breakfast, and being the object of affection for several sexy men.

Can you share with us your current work in progress?
I have just started writing the sequel to The Witches of Dark Root. I don’t want to give too much away but Maggie (our main witch) will be spending more time training her powers, questioning the meaning of life, and may even develop a romantic relationship or two. The book will be called The Magick of Dark Root and will delve more into Maggie’s witchy backstory, as well as that of her sisters and her mother.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Undoubtedly Stephen King. He is a master of not only horror but character development. He can make the most fantastic scenarios seem plausible. The Stand is one of my favorite books of all time.
Also, I really enjoy Fannie Flagg, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistlestop Café. I love the way she weaves her stories through time with heart and humor. Though I write in a different genre than she does, her style has greatly inspired my own.

Do you feel that any of your favorite authors have inspired your writing style?
Rebecca Wells and Fannie Flagg have influenced my writing style the most. I’ve used their past/present style of showing how a person gets from here to there in both of my books.

Open your book to a random page and please reads us a few lines.

The large brass knob was highly ornate, cut with the dramatic circular-swirling patterns standard in Victorian houses. The door itself was covered in the same beige-white paint as the other doors in the hallway. If you were a visitor to Sister House and just walking by, you would think it was just an ordinary door leading to an ordinary room. But I stood before it, paralyzed, as if it could burn me.
There was something on the other side of that door, I knew.
Something ancient and angry.

What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for?
The stack of to-read books next to my bed is tall enough now to qualify as a nightstand. I love to read, and will read almost anything as long as the writing is good and the story is interesting. I particularly like women’s fiction and anything with a paranormal slant.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d also like to add that I have another book out called The Universe is a Very Big Place which is a romantic comedy about a woman’s quest for a second chance at love and life. This is a light read that I hope will have readers laughing and thinking.
Finally, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed here. I sincerely appreciate it. I hope you and your readers have a fantastic day!
April Aasheim spent her childhood traveling the Southwestern portion of the United States with her fortune- telling mother and her get-rich-quick dreaming stepfather. During that time, April and her family toured with a carnival company, sold bug repellant door to door, and resided in an abandoned miner’s shack in The Superstitious Mountains of Arizona. 

When April became a teenager she went to live with her biological father in California. Her father saw April’s need to express herself and encouraged her to write her stories rather than tell them. By learning to write April was able to make sense of her family and the world she lived in. She continues to do that to this day.

April currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She is the mother of two incredible sons and the step-mother to a beautiful little girl. She is the author of numerous short stories, has contributed to several anthologies, and is the author of the well-received novel: The Universe is a Very Big Place.

The Witches of Dark Root is the first in The Daughters of Dark Root series and April looks forward to writing the second book in 2014.

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