Paulette Kennedy is my latest guest to discuss her new novel, The Witch of Tin Mountain, a witchy southern gothic set in rural Northern Arkansas during the Great Depression, coming to you February 1st, 2023 from Lake Union Publishing.
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The Witch of Tin Mountain by Paulette Kennedy
In this episode of a literary podcast, author Paulette Kennedy discusses her novel “The Witch of Tin Mountain,” set in the Great Depression in Arkansas. She shares her writing process, inspirations from family history and folklore, and research into witchcraft and the Ozarks’ culture. Paulette talks about challenges in writing from multiple perspectives, offers advice to aspiring authors, and previews her upcoming book “The Devil and Mrs. Davenport.”
Here’s what we covered:
- [00:00:00]: Introduction of Paulette Kennedy and her novel “The Witch of Tin Mountain.”
- [00:01:37]: Inspiration for the novel and influence of family history.
- [00:04:21]: Research on witchcraft, folk magic traditions, and Ozarks culture.
- [00:10:28]: Influence of Salem witch trials research on the story.
- [00:12:19]: Writing process and challenges of multiple perspectives.
- [00:17:10]: Influential authors and reading preferences.
- [00:20:03]: Discussion on potential movie adaptation casting.
- [00:28:13]: Paulette’s upcoming book “The Devil and Mrs. Davenport.”
[00:00:00] Jane: Happy New Year, everyone. Paulette, thank you for joining me tonight. I’m so excited to have you. And since we’re live, I’m going to do an intro and we’re going to jump right to it.
[00:00:10] Paulette: Sounds good. Thanks for having me. Thank you.
[00:00:14] Jane: Okay. So, Paulette Kennedy, originally from the Ozarks, she now divides her time between her Missouri hometown and L. A., where she lives with her family and a menagerie of rescue pets. Lovely. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys tending to her garden, knitting, finding unique vintage treasures at thrift stores and flea markets.
As a history lover, she can get lost for days in her research, and I want to talk about that, learning everything she can about the places in her stories and what her characters might have experienced in the past. Paulette’s first novel is Part of the Veil. Her latest novel, which is climbing up the Amazon charts, is The Witch of Tin Mountain.
A witchy southern gothic set in rural northern Arkansas during the Great Depression. Thank you for holding it up, the beautiful cover. It’s coming February 1st, 2023, just in a few days from Lake Union Publishing, but it’s still available. It was an Amazon editor’s Choice this month, right?
[00:01:07] Paulette: So it’s still available for, for readers in the next, for the next few days on Kindle to Amazon first reads for the next few days.
So it’ll be available for free on Kindle for just a few more days. And then official launch date is February 1st.
[00:01:23] Jane: So awesome. Awesome. Congratulations. It’s doing phenomenal. The reviews are phenomenal and I loved it. So why don’t you start by telling us the inspiration for the story and the history.
That inspired the story, including some of your own family history.
[00:01:37] Paulette: Yes, so I had several inspirations for the story. So the heart of the story is the haunting that affects this family of women who are generational healers in the Ozarks. They’re granny women or folk healers and so all three generations.
have a little bit to do with the story going back almost 150 years. But their original heart of the inspiration was the Bell Witch legend out of Adams, Tennessee that happened in the early part of the 19th century, like in the early settler days of Appalachia. My dad was from originally. And so He told me a lot of stories about Tennessee and growing up there, and he grew up during the Great Depression, so my decision to set the story where I did, which is in Northwest Arkansas had a little bit to do with, like, what I was familiar with, and also, like, that heart folk story.
Had to do with like some of the folk tales that he told me having grown up in Tennessee. So I kind of merged the two a little bit and the Ozarks and Appalachia in general have a lot in common. There was a lot of cross migration between the two areas. So a lot of the music, a lot of language, the colloquialisms, all of that are like very similar to what you’ll hear in Tennessee and Kentucky and like Southern Ohio.
And so like that kind of Is the heart of the story. And then there are a lot of personal stories that my dad told me as I was growing up that happened to him that he experienced some of the spooky stuff that’s in the book are directly like oral tradition stories that he told me. And so, yeah, so I was able to incorporate all of that into the novel.
And so that kind of tied in with the Bell Witch Legend. And I kind of pulled my own like, Take on that legend and use that kind of as the root of the haunting that the townsfolk of Tin Mountain experience.
[00:03:40] Jane: I was reading on some of your reviews and when someone said this is like the best type of spooky book to read at night, like by the fire in the winter.
And so I did that the like last week and then I went to bed right after and I had like the scariest dream.
[00:03:54] Paulette: Oh, I’m so sorry.
[00:03:55] Jane: And that’s like a testament to your writing though. It was. So like, it was very spooky and I loved it. And so I was just reading, rereading your author’s note. Cause of course I’m such a nerd about that stuff.
I love reading research notes and the research that you did was fascinating about witchcraft and about the Ozarks and about folklore. And so talk to me about your research process and and some of your research for this story.
[00:04:21] Paulette: I did a lot of research and a lot of different avenues of witchcraft and especially like folk magic traditions.
A lot of the characters in the novel kind of have a little bit of a heritage of that that’s passed down from generation to generation and the Werner family through the grimoire, you know, they passed that. on down through generations and so that kind of thing happens like in the Ozarks. It’s mostly with like recipes and things like that but like I save several of like my mom’s recipes that she had handwritten and like they’re precious to me and so sometimes women would save those.
kind of herbal remedies and folk medicine and even like charms and folk magic because like I can remember like when I was pregnant with my daughter, like one of the things that we do is we tie our wedding ring on a string and we dangle it over our bellies. And whether it turns in a circle or moves back and forth is a way of defining whether you’re having a girl or a boy.
It’s just like stuff like that. One of the cures for warts that my mom or like just anything like a mole that you wanted to get rid of was like cutting a potato into four pieces and burying it under the light of a full moon. Yeah. So there’s like things like this. And my, my mother’s family, especially it was very religious.
Like my grandmother was like. Pentecostal, like, Holy Roller lady, and she still did a lot of like this folk healing, folk charms, you know, things like that. So it’s kind of funny, like, some of it is just what I grew up with, like, experiencing in the Ozarks, and just that kind of, thing that gets passed down from grandmother to daughter and granddaughter.
So I incorporated some of that kind of thing, but I also did a lot of research. There’s a historian called his name was Vance Randolph, and he was actually, I think, from Ohio or maybe Illinois. He wasn’t from the Ozarks originally, but he came to the Ozarks and lived here. There in like the 1920s to the 1930s, because he was so fascinated by the area.
And so he cataloged our catalog a lot of our like folk traditions and like our dialect and like all the little things that make the Ozarks what those arts are. So I consulted. his books on like folk magic and superstitions very superstitious people that live in the Ozarks. And so there’s a lot of like things that you don’t do at certain times of the year and you do do at certain times of the year.
And, you know, the farmers follow the farmer’s almanacs and things like that. So there’s a lot of like that kind of. It’s it’s almost it’s not a cult like I wouldn’t go that far but there’s a lot of like that esoteric knowledge that has just been passed down. Yeah, and people just live by it, especially in rural areas, even still.
And they just do it like it’s just something that you do like I remember one time. When I was a teenager and my mom and the neighbor were canning and they were canning tomatoes and they wouldn’t let me help because it was that time of the month and I would ruin the whole batch.
[00:07:39] Jane: Oh, geez.
[00:07:42] Paulette: It’s just stuff like that, that I kind of like.
I didn’t put a lot of those exact anecdotes in the book, but that’s kind of the culture that I come from. It’s like, there’s just a lot of superstitions and a lot of, like, mythology that kind of goes around just normal day to day life. And water witching, like, one of my characters is a water witcher. My great aunt was a well known water witcher.
Like, people would go, go to her whenever they needed to dig a well and she would take a peach tree limb and she would go out and she would divine for water.
[00:08:17] Jane: So, so interesting. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:08:19] Paulette: Yeah. So, but I did do a lot of research on like the Salem witch trials and things like that for very specific reasons for like the mass hysteria elements that’s in the book and all of that as well.
So I did like the folk magic side and then I did like, You know, what actual witchcraft trials were like so kind of a little bit of
[00:08:39] Jane: everything. Excellent. Yeah, very, very cool. There one, one part of your not author’s notes, that point was, you talk about How the dialect and vocabulary and colloquial speech in the Ozarks.
And I think that you did a really good job of like weaving that in without being overwhelming. Like, I think it was, it’s felt really authentic. And I’m did you find that hard to balance? Like, how did you do that?
[00:09:05] Paulette: It was a little tricky to balance because I didn’t want to make it into a caricature. I didn’t want my characters to become that, like, Ozarkian hillbilly caricature.
But at the same time, like, this is how my people taught. Like, I mean, all of those politicalisms in the book. Like, my mom, my aunts, like, my grandmother. They said all of those things. And they said them, like, as often as my characters do in the book. Like, Restless is a tomcat. Or long tailed tomcat in a room full of rockers.
I mean, I heard that so many times growing up so funny. Useless as tits on a bore hog. I mean, , those things are just what people say here, like,
[00:09:41] Jane: and the berries is that the one them’s the berries, is that,
[00:09:45] Paulette: yeah. Them’s the berries a little bit. That’s kind of a little bit more of a 1930s, 1920s, 1930s slang.
Yeah. It’s just like a slang for, oh, that’s a great thing that happened, you know, or awesome, you know. So that’s a little, that was kind of more of a widespread saying, like probably all over the U. S. at that time. But yeah, some of the regional colloquialisms, like those are very like specific to the Ozarks and probably like Appalachia.
Yeah. And then that like the deep south, right?
[00:10:18] Jane: Yeah, that was great. Those were great. Was there anything you researched that really surprised you or changed the trajectory of the story in any way?
[00:10:28] Paulette: I wouldn’t say my research on Salem. Kind of changed just how dramatic I made some elements or some scenes in the book.
Yeah. Especially kind of toward the end. I had done a little bit of like rudimentary, like very surface level research on Salem before I started writing this book, but like when I started writing this book, I really did a deep dive into what it was really, really like, and it was stunning. Like that, that could happen, you know?
Yes. To the level that it did and how wild things got in Salem. Yeah, not only with like just the accusations and everything that happened during the trials, but some of the anecdotes it’s a, it’s a little spooky, you know, it’s like, there’s, there’s the normal stuff that happened, but they’re, the reason why I kind of did things the way that I did is like, There was kind of some, there was something going on there, whether it was like collective consciousness,
[00:11:30] Jane: or yes, yeah, what was area.
[00:11:33] Paulette: Yeah, very
[00:11:34] Jane: dark. Yeah, we I live like 20 minutes from Salem’s and so we, my daughters and I have gone to the museums were just fascinated with the culture and that whole era that story. Yeah, it’s, yeah, fascinating. So this is a generational story, you know, told from three generations of women. Different perspectives, different errors, focusing primarily on young Deirdre in the 18, late 1800s and her granddaughter Gracelyn Gracie in the 1930s.
And was this always the plan for like the structure of the story? And did you find that difficult to write? Because I’m very, I’m always in awe of people who write from different perspectives, different, like, you know, dual narratives, things like that.
[00:12:19] Paulette: So. Yeah, you know, I didn’t start out wanting to necessarily write a dual point of view book.
It kind of happened a little bit organically. Gracie, Grace Lynn’s voice and her character was the first character that came to me when I first started writing and her voice came through so strong. It just, she felt like a real person to me. And so I started with her story and then as I started Kind of writing hers, I was like, I was going to keep Deirdre just in, like, 1931, and just, like, have her relay what happened to Gracie through, like, telling her stories and everything.
But then I’m like, you know, her story deserves to be told too, and, like, how everything happened, and for things to end up the way that they did in 1931. And so I decided to go ahead and braid her narrative in, and then use kind of the grimoire as the framing. element, like a frame narrative to kind of add in those clues and missing pieces that I couldn’t tell in her timeline or Gracie’s.
And you know, I mean, I get that they kind of sound alike, they sound similar. A lot of that has to do with them growing up in the region. Right. It’s like, they did have like a very similar upbringing in some ways. But it is. It’s tricky to do multiple points of view. It’s very difficult. It’s probably the hardest thing that I’ve ever done this far as a writer.
I don’t know that I’ll do it anytime soon again. I get it. Yeah. Yes, I had a lot of editorial help with like making it work, and I’m very appreciative of that. Jody Warshaw and Alyssa Beckham helped a ton with that.
[00:14:09] Jane: Well, we all need that help. I mean, yes. Yeah. Yeah. And that actually, that’s a good segue to my next question.
You talked a little bit. Tell me about your writing process. I ask every writer comes on, like, are you a plotter? Or are you a pantser? And you write by the seat of your pants? Or do you plot it out? It sounds like you’re more of a pantser because you said that Gracie’s voice came through first and then you kind of built from there.
But, yeah. Yeah. Like, just talk to me, we have a lot of writers who listen in, so talk to me about your process.
[00:14:40] Paulette: I am a tent poller. And so how that works for me is like, I start out with a very minimal structure. So I start out with my inciting incident. My midpoint climax and my climax climax and that’s kind of and then everything else kind of I do end up, you know, writing a synopsis and an outline before I start writing in earnest.
Okay, sometimes like if a scene really inspires me. I’ll write out of order, but I typically tend to be a linear writer. So whenever I was writing The Witch of Tin Mountain plotted out Gracie’s timeline first and then when I decided that I was going to write. Deirdre’s timeline. I plotted hers out, and then I kind of wove them together.
Okay. And then added in the grimoire as kind of like an interlude, like where I felt like we needed a little bit of extra
[00:15:33] Jane: information. Yeah, I like that. Yeah, that was great. And so I always ask this for my own, I’m just curious, do you use Scrivener or Word, or what do you like to use for writing? Like Scrivener is a word processing document, like, okay, you use Word.
Yeah, okay, yeah. So curious. All right. And so another question you talked about how Gracie was the one that came to you first. I mean, I loved all these strong female characters in this book, but I love, I think Gracie was my favorite because of her spunk and Did you, like, do you, do you have trouble when you finish up a project of letting go of the characters?
Or are you just like, no, that’s done? Or would you ever consider putting them in another book? That’s a question I get and I’m always curious what other writers do
[00:16:18] Paulette: or think. This book is the first book that I’ve ever actually considered potentially bringing some of these characters back into another book and maybe continuing the story.
I never really set out to like write a series or anything like that. I, I really love a standalone story that you can finish and feel satisfied with. And I did want this to be able to stand alone, of course, but I am open to it becoming a series eventually. And there’s a potential for that, you know, See, we’ll see what happens, you know?
[00:16:49] Jane: Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Your voice and style of writing when I was reading it, it reminded me a little bit of Alice Hoffman, who I love. And I was just wondering, like, who are some of the authors that have influenced you that you love that you know you want you aspire to? Like, do you think do you are you an Alice Hoffman fan?
[00:17:10] Paulette: All that? Yes, I’m absolutely an Alice Hoffman fan and wonderful world that she created with practical magic and every book that came. Yes. Yeah. The Owens family. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. She’s an influence. Anne Rice is an influence. Yes. Gosh, there’s so many Louisa Morgan. She’s also an amazing witchy writer that writes historical fiction.
Alex Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches. Oh, yeah. Yeah, there were a lot of, like, inspirational books. Also, I have to mention, like, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Also, I read that book before I started. And, you know, there were, like, some elements that inspired me with that book as well by V.E.
[00:17:54] Jane: Yeah, she’s amazing, too. Yeah, that’s a good
[00:17:56] Paulette: one. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. As far as, like, classic southern gothic authors William Gay is one of the authors that helped really, like, influence my style of writing with some parts of this novel. Probably, like, the darker overtones and some of the, like, religious overtones that I kind of put in there.
His work is saturated with that. And, you know, Flannery O’Connor
[00:18:24] Jane: love her writing.
[00:18:25] Paulette: Amazing. I never, I could never aspire to such great heights, but, you know, there are just, there’s just such a rich, you know, cultural heritage of like Southern authors who are amazing. And I think that which is set in the South, and with all of the cultural folklore and everything that comes with the South is, is kind of It’s kind of a natural thing to have happened.
And so that’s kind of why it all worked, I think. And people are kind of fascinated by my part of the country. Yes, there. Yeah, there’s a little bit of an interest with our region. And, you know, I wanted, definitely wanted to portray things honestly and, you know, have things be a little bit you know, a little bit more open about what it’s really like in the Ozarks and You know, from a historical standpoint, my next book is also set in the Ozarks.
So if people like that setting, they’re going to get to go back in 2024, whenever my next book comes out. So,
[00:19:30] Jane: yeah, no, I loved, I loved it. I don’t think that I hadn’t read a lot of books set in the Ozarks, and I think that like a lot of. Great settings. It felt like almost like another character in the novel, you know, it’s you couldn’t have written it anywhere else.
It had to take place there, you know so I really, I thought that was great. And I love reading about different areas of the country of the world. And different perspectives. I loved it. What is, i, so, oh, this is a, just a fun question because I’m, I get these questions a lot. Like if you would like, who, if, if, if it was made into a movie, who would you like to play Gracie or
[00:20:03] Paulette: Deirdre?
Oh my, you know, I thought about this a lot for Parting the Veil. I haven’t really thought about it a lot for The Witch of Tin Mountain. You know I really, and she wouldn’t be able to play Gracie at this point, but. Have you seen Cold Mountain? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Ruby, yeah. Renee Zoller. .
[00:20:25] Jane: That was Renee.
I was gonna say Nicole know Renee Ger.
[00:20:28] Paulette: She reminds me a lot of Gracie. Like I picture that kind of like that look and that that type of, of of girl, you know, I, I thinking about that. El Fanning would be a good Gracie. I think she would, yeah.
[00:20:40] Jane: Yeah. I also think she looks like grace. Sadie Sink, I think is her name, from Stranger Things, the red headed girl from Stranger Things.
Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and the Taylor Swift video, if you’re a Taylor Swift fan in my house. Yeah, I think she would be great, too. I was thinking that while I was reading it. Oh, someone, Jacqueline asks who, William who, who is the author that you just cited? Is it William Gay, did you say? Mm hmm. Yeah, D A Y, William Gaye.
Okay, William Gaye. And then I have a couple more questions and apparently the chat is disabled. So if you have questions for Paulette just put them in the Q& A and I will I’ll field them there. But I have a couple more questions. I’m not done yet. So what is your favorite part of the writing process and what is the part that you totally dread?
[00:21:25] Paulette: My favorite part is probably brainstorming and then revisions. Those, those are pretty equally like my favorites. I have to brainstorm with pen and pen and paper or pencil and paper. I usually have tons of journals that I just fill with my illegible handwriting that I go back later and try to decipher it.
But like, I put character studies in my journals and I do all kinds of like work ahead of time before I start drafting. And then revisions, like making everything prettier, making the sentences prettier. I love like really going in after I get the story down, like the meat of the story down and going in and making things.
Pretty, or more beautiful in the pros like focusing more on the pros. And like little ideas will come to me during revisions to kind of enrich the story. I draft really lean, I’m usually about 75, 000 words on my first draft or so, but I usually end up adding about 30, 000 more words or so. So I, yeah, I, I really go all in with revisions, I enjoy drafting is my least favorite part.
[00:22:35] Jane: Yeah, same. I’m absolutely the same all around, like, yeah, I like, it’s like blood from a stone during the drafting, and I really love the revision process myself, and then with my editors, I just love that part. Yeah, yeah, just trying to make it the best it can be. Yeah, but that, the draft is painful. Yeah. So what is you, you are like, I feel like I’m just a lurker lately on social media and signal channel chat, whatever, but what you are really generous, like giving advice to aspiring authors.
And so what advice do you have for people that are just starting out trying to get published, trying to get their first manuscript done? What’s some of your best writing advice?
[00:23:15] Paulette: So a couple of things getting a story down is better than making it perfect. You always have time to do that later.
So your drafts and, and I am the world’s worst perfectionist, so I am preaching to the choir here, but I. Whenever I was a younger writer, because I’d been writing like seriously with a mind toward publishing fiction since I was about 19 years old. And I never finished a book until I got to be 42 years old because I would get so wrapped up in making things perfect that I wouldn’t like see a book through until the very end.
And so I wanted to be a writer. And so it’s like, I had to, I had to get out of my own way. Yeah. And I See that a lot with newer writers and, and writers that are very excellent writers and have a natural gift for writing that they get kind of caught up in the details. And, you know, if you’ll just get that first draft down you can always make it better.
You can’t make something better if it’s not there. And so that’s my advice. And some people do really well with revising as they draft. I, I am not one of those people I get stuck. So I had to learn that. And also as far as like, Just a general, like, piece of advice I tell people is to read everything that you can read cross genre, read books that you wouldn’t necessarily think that you would normally like.
Because everything that you read teaches you something. It either will teach you something that you want to do or something maybe that you don’t want to do, but like, you can’t really know until you read it. And like, I learned a lot. By reading romance, I learned a lot by reading mysteries just kind of learning about commercial fiction because I kind of came from a little bit more of a, you know, I was an English major in college before I let college go.
And my writing tended to be really didactic and academic sounding. And so reading commercial fiction and like having that influenced me a helped get me out of that rut to where I was like writing really dry. Stop.
[00:25:24] Jane: Yeah.
[00:25:25] Paulette: Yeah. No, I, it would’ve never probably been picked
[00:25:27] Jane: up . Yeah, no, I get it. I, I do, I That’s all excellent advice.
I think that is so I think a lot of writers struggle with just getting the first whole draft down, you know, I think because it’s like, oh, it’s not good enough. This part’s not good enough. I’m the worst. I can’t do it. You know, like the doubt on your shoulder, all of that stuff. Yes. And yeah, and, and reading outside genre or across all genres is such excellent advice too.
Sometimes when I’m writing historical fiction, I don’t like to read historical fiction and I got and I just read, I don’t know if you’ve read it yet, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabriel Zevin, I believe is the author.
[00:26:04] Paulette: I haven’t yet, but I saw that one the other day. It looks really
[00:26:07] Jane: intriguing.
It’s, and it’s something I would never have picked up, but it’s obviously gotten a lot of buzz, and I was like, just astonished with the writing. It was just really and it was so, as a writer, it makes you think about, like, how did she do that, and how did, like, jump around in time and place? Yeah, so that was one that made me think, you know so a couple more questions, and then please, I see a couple of questions in the chat.
If you have any more, please please type them in. So two part question, do you zoom with book clubs and what’s the best way for readers to stay in touch with you?
[00:26:42] Paulette: I absolutely zoom with book clubs. I love zooming and being a guest in book clubs. So hit me up for that. I really enjoy that.
And you know, I, I’m also like willing to like be. a guest host on book club pages on Facebook and things like that, too, if you would rather do it that way. So I enjoy that and the best way to keep up with me, I’m, I’m re upping my newsletter because I have been neglecting my newsletter. So my newsletter is a good way to keep in touch with me.
If you go to paulettekennedy. com, you’ll see a sign up. For to subscribe to my newsletter, but also I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, I’m on Twitter, and I’m even on TikTok, although I’m not super active there yet but on all my social media, I am P. Kennedy Writes.
[00:27:29] Jane: Okay. Excellent. And, speaking of newsletter, I got your newsletter and I was like, Oh, this is a really good newsletter.
Like I have to do better. I was very impressed. I have a mailing list for invitations and events and stuff, but I need to like do a real newsletter. It was, it was well done. Well done.
[00:27:44] Paulette: It stresses me out, but it’s more anticipation of doing it every month because I was doing it every month, like during my debut year.
And then like last year, it was just a really hard year. So I had to let some things go. So I let my newsletter go. But, like, I’m, I’m picking it back up again. I really love, like, designing all the graphics and things like that on Canva and writing.
[00:28:06] Jane: Yeah newsletter envy. And you just talked about your next book.
So tell us a little bit about that.
[00:28:13] Paulette: Yeah. So my next book just got acquired by Lake Union in December. So it’ll be my third novel. It’s called The Devil and Mrs. Davenport. And it’s not about Satan. Well, I guess I’m just putting that out there right now. Yeah. But it is like, it’s, it takes place in the 1950s.
And my main character is she’s a homemaker. So she’s a stay at home mom. And she’s kind of like that classic 1950s, like housewife. But she’s a Pentecostal. She’s very light. It’s like, Kind of like that, that real conservative, like, religion. That’s fairly common where I’m from. And she develops psychic powers suddenly after a viral illness.
Oh. And so she actually becomes a medium. And she starts being able to speak with spirits that have passed on and they are starting to seek her out. And so she’s like reconciling this with her conservative husband and, and her faith and all of this. And so it’s kind of like a little bit of wrestling with identity.
She’s like 27 when the story starts. And so she’s just trying to kind of figure out why this is happening to her and what purpose it serves in her life. And It’s a very it, I call it, it’s Shirley Jackson meets Sharp Objects.
[00:29:40] Jane: Shirley Jackson, yeah, yeah.
[00:29:41] Paulette: Yeah, yeah. And she’s also a writer. So it’s like, I pull a little bit of like, I read a lot about Shirley Jackson’s life whenever I was researching the novel before I started drafting it.
So there’s a lot of like little Shirley Jackson Easter eggs throughout the book. And it’s, it’s gothic. But it’s more of like a domestic gothic. So we have like this house that they live in. And, you know, at first it’s like the perfect like white ticket fence, you know, this nice suburban house set in the fictional town of Myrna Grove, Missouri.
And, then Loretta, my main character, starts noticing that something’s up with the house, like there’s cracks that are forming in the ceiling and in the walls, and so that’s kind of like part of the gothic element that comes up into the story as well. So it’s, it’s really fun to write.
[00:30:32] Jane: Cool. Huge congratulations.
That’s, it sounds amazing. Yeah. And then oh, there’s some questions in the chat. This is actually a question I usually ask. Anne Pierpont asks how the cover evolved and how much of, like, how much, tell me, just because the cover is beautiful. If you want to hold it up again. It’s really cool. I love it.
And so how did, did you have a lot of say? I remember seeing some iterations of this back a while back. And yeah, I love it.
[00:30:57] Paulette: Thank you. Yeah, Amanda Hudson she designed both of my covers for both my books, Parting the Veil and this one. She’s amazing. She’s with Face Out Studios and I requested her specifically to design the cover for the Wichita Mountain.
So yes, as you know from being a Lake Union author, we have a lot of input on our covers. Thank goodness. And that’s one of the wonderful things about our publisher. I had about five different concepts that were sent to me after I contributed to the creative brief, which was really fun to do. So with a creative brief, you can kind of talk about what color schemes you like and like what other covers that were recently from recent books that you really liked or that inspired you.
So you get to like insert all of that into your creative brief and then your editor sends it on to the art department and then the art department takes all that information and they generate All these covers and sometimes it’s really hard to choose because there can be some really, really cool concepts and we have a lot of say and there were two really strong contenders that stood out with my covers and they were totally different.
Like each one was completely different. I’ll have to show my newsletter subscribers what the other cover looked like, the other one that we kind of narrowed it down to so they can see. But. I ended up going with this concept because I felt like it really conveyed that it was historical fiction, and it also was like very spooky and kind of creepy in a way that the other one maybe wasn’t.
So it kind of brought in a little bit more atmosphere, I felt like, and plus, You know, we have that fog and the trees and all of that kind of crowding into the, to the margins. And I really like that.
[00:32:39] Jane: And I like the color scheme too. I like the color, like the palette is really nice too.
[00:32:44] Paulette: Yeah, that greenish color.
It’s kind of funny. I was talking about this on Twitter, I think before tornado the sky kind of turns that color. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It kind of turns kind of a sickly like pea soup color. And so I feel like even I love the color, but it she kind of like conveyed that a little bit, which I thought was super
[00:33:06] Jane: Yeah, totally. Excellent. So, and another excellent question from Anne that I often ask, and I forgot to tonight. Do you get ever get so engaged with your characters that you don’t want the story to be over? Like to get attached and you don’t want
[00:33:20] Paulette: it to be over. Yes, I do get attached and especially I would say like in revisions when you know like when we’re wrapping up copy edits because like that’s literally the last time we can make really big changes to the manuscript and like after that the arcs get published and so like when I’m having to let go.
It is kind of hard, but also I’m relieved. Yes. Because like at that point, like we’ve read our own book, like gosh, how many times? Yeah, a million times. And we could like recite the story by heart. Pretty much. Usually we’re starting to work on our next one at that point. So it’s like. I’m also kind of ready to let those characters go and like live their best life and the reader’s minds and the reader’s imaginations.
It’s like after, after that arc is out in the world, it belongs to the readers now. It’s no longer mine. And so, well, I do love all of my characters and you know, they’re like my, my imaginary children. In some ways, I’m also always kind of ready to start the next book.
[00:34:22] Jane: Yeah, I totally feel that. And then not a question, but a comment from Barbara Harrington, and I think that will wrap it up after this.
This is really lovely. Not a question, but I love Paulette’s advice on just getting it written down and worrying about making it pretty later. I am not a writer. I’m just trying to write my history for my grandsons, and I often get stuck trying to make it perfect the first time. I think Barbara, you are not alone.
Like, I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for all writers. And if you’re writing your history, I think you’re a writer. I think you can say you’re a writer too. I agree. Yes. Yeah. So Paulette, this was amazing. I’m so thrilled for all your success. I hope it continues to climb up the charts February 1st and everyone hold up if you want to hold up the cover again, cause I have it on my Kindle.
So yes. Witch of Tin Mountain.
[00:35:11] Paulette: I’ve got my green screen on, so it’s kind of
[00:35:14] Jane: congratulations. I know it looks kind of
[00:35:16] Paulette: spooky coming in.
I’ve got a lamp on behind me.
[00:35:18] Jane: Yeah. Yeah. Congratulations. And everyone, you know, we’re to get in touch with Paulette and I wish you all the success. Thank you for coming.
Thank you so much,
[00:35:25] Paulette: Jane. I appreciate you having me.
[00:35:29] Jane: Good night, everyone. Thank you.
HISTORICAL HAPPY HOUR
Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.