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«Read Regional 2020/21

James Nicol: A Witch Come True

The initial inspiration behind The Apprentice Witch series was a memory from my teens – being told I would fail at something before I had even attempted it. I grew up surrounded by stories and legends about witches and this clearly had more of an impact than I thought, because when I set out to write the main character appeared as a young witch. But not the scary Halloween-type witches, but a helpful witch.

Arianwyn is 15 and struggling to overcome her initial confidence knock alongside her determination to succeed as a witch and follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. She also faces a host of magical and non-magical problems, including vicious rivals, local politicians and pesky snotlings.

Some of the initial story was written and inspired by locations in Yorkshire and other things, such as phrases and traditions, have also woven their way in despite the setting being a fantasy landscape.

The stories are about lots of things, including the ups and downs of friendships, bullying and dealing with a lack of confidence.

Questions for Readers

Why do you think Arianwyn makes such a good friend?

Do you think there are any truly evil characters in the book? Who and why?

Which location in the book would you most like to visit and why?

Recommended Reading

Mold and The Poison Plot by Lorraine Gregory
Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll
The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K Le Guin

James Nicol has loved books and stories his whole life. As a child he was a reluctant reader until he discovered the magic of books thanks to his grandmother and The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. After that he spent hours absorbed in novels, watching epic 1980s cartoons or adventuring in the wood at the bottom of the garden. He has worked as a bookseller and librarian for over twenty years. He lives in Yorkshire with his partner and a cockapoo called Bonnie in a house with too many books and too many musical instruments (most of which he can’t play!).


19 Jun, 10am
Read Regional: James Nicol Create a Creature workshop, presented by Barnsley Libraries
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