Jazzy's Q&A with Adriana Mather
I am very honoured that famous author, Adriana Mather is joining us today on my blog. She has written How to Hang a Witch which has landed itself a place on the New York Times bestseller list. It is one of my favourite books and you can find my review HERE. Thank you Adriana and to Walker Books Australia for helping to make this possible.
1. The main character, Sam is bullied. Have you been bullied before?
I’ve never experienced anything as bad as Sam. But yes, I’ve been bullied. I also once unknowingly participated in bullying. I was in elementary school and a group of kids were making fun of a boy for his appearance. Everyone was laughing, including the boy who was being made fun of. When I went home that day I told my mom about it and she said that was cruel. I told her she had it wrong, that it was just a big joke. And she said: “That boy may have laughed in front of all those people, but what if he went home and cried?” And I burst into tears. I hated the thought that I had laughed at him and I hadn’t told them to stop. So I never let that happen again. If I saw someone being bullied, I jumped in immediately and stood up for them.
2. Sam and Jaxon are great role models. Are they like anyone you know?
I’m so happy you think so! They aren’t like anyone in particular in my life. But Mrs. Meriwether is a bit like my mom.
3. You are a direct descendant of Cotton Mather who features in your book. If you met him right now, what would you ask and why?
I would ask him about his brother Nathanael Mather, who I’ve always been curious about and who was buried in Salem. Cotton wrote the epitaph on his gravestone that reads: “An aged person that had but seen nineteen winters in the world.”
Also, I would ask him what he learned from his life. From writing How to Hang a Witch, I came to realize that history repeats itself. But if we revisit history, question history, and discuss the mechanisms behind it, not only can we learn from it, but we can break the cycle.
4. You live in LA, but How to Hang a Witch is set in Salem. Did you go there to research your story?
Absolutely! Salem is one of my favourite places with its houses painted all black and its cobblestoned streets. You’ll find potions and spell books in lots of stores, and witch logos on cop cars. People dress up in gothic clothing and costumes year round and everyone says the town is super haunted. In fact people don’t ask you if you believe in ghosts, but rather when was the last time you saw one.
5. Did you study The Crucible by Arthur Miller at school, which is also set in Salem?
I did! We studied it and we saw the play.
6. When did you become interested in writing books?
In 2013 I broke my arm snowboarding – two plates, 12 screws later and I was couch-bound for two months. I’m a very active person, always taking on new projects. So when my arm was finally healed, I found myself in a strange spot – everything in my life was on hold and nothing was demanding my attention. For the first time in forever, I had open space before me.
And in that space, I had an idea for a screenplay. It involved my ancestor Cotton Mather who instigated the Salem Witch Trials, modern day Salem, and a mystery with an enigmatic ghost. But when I sat down, the screenplay wasn’t flowing. So I decided to try the story in long form. I never knew I wanted to write a book, but once I started, I never stopped.
7. What is your favourite age group to write for?
I truly love YA.
8. I heard that you are an actor. What kind of characters have you played?
I’ve played everything from absurdist comedy to someone dying of cancer. Acting is an adventure, but it’s also such an amazing way to put yourself in other people’s shoes and learn.
9. Are you writing anything at the moment?
I’m working on a new series called The November Strategy that I’m super excited about, in which a girl named November is shipped off to a secret boarding school that boasts an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. When a student is found murdered, November is the main suspect.
10. What was your favourite book/series when you were in Year 7?
I loved The Belgariad and Lord of the Rings. The Golden Compass was out, but I didn’t know about it until years later. But I bet if I had it would have been one of my faves.
11. Apart from transport, if you were stranded on a desert island and got to pick one thing to bring with you, what would it be and why?
My pirate. When I first met my husband, I didn’t think he looked like a James so I started calling him Pirate instead. And what’s a desert island without a pirate?