Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
Today I’m bringing you an interview with Alex Aster, debut author of CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH, the first book in a fantasy middle grade series, where Tor, the main character, was born for a leadership role which he resents. But when he wants to reverse his destiny, things go wrong and now he has a curse to break before it is too late. This book sounds like such a spooky adventure filled story and I cannot wait to read it for myself! And without further ado, here is my interview with the author to find out more about it:
Hello Alex and welcome to Color the Shelves! To kick things off, tell us a bit more about CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH? (keep in mind here that I will be giving a short summary of the book in the introduction and including the full synopsis at the end)
Thank you for having me! CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH is the first book in the Emblem Island series. It’s about Tor and his two friends who go to great lengths to reverse a deadly curse, using ancient legends that are based on Latinx myths from my own childhood. There are witches, monsters, ghosts, curses, and myths, so definitely a fit for this time of year!
One of my absolute favorite things to read about are stories within stories, and that is a concept that you play with in CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH. How did you incorporate it into your story?
On Emblem Island, there is an ancient book of legends called the Book of Cuentos, that works as both a scary fairytale book and handbook in their superstitious society. Tor, Melda, and Engle have grown up hearing these stories, but don’t realize how real they are until they set off on their adventure. They must use details and clues from the myths to break their curse, so we decided to put these stories in between the chapters of the book, so it’s kind of a book within a book and the reader can follow along while learning more about the Emblem Island culture.
What are some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Tor is a different type of hero because he doesn’t want to be a hero at all. He was born with a leadership emblem that is coveted on Emblem Island, but he doesn’t want to lead anyone. It was important for me to write about this type of character because I think lots of readers find themselves boxed in because of their circumstances, or what their parents want for them. Hopefully they can relate to Tor, and his desire to change his fate, against the wishes of everyone around him.
I also wanted to explore the idea of good versus evil. What makes a villain so bad? Are there ever good reasons for doing bad things? Those are questions I explore in the book.
CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH is rich in myths and latinx folklore. What were your favorites to include and explore?
The world of Emblem Island and emblems are based on a Colombian myth called “La niña con la estrella en la frente.” It was my favorite as a child, so getting the chance to create an entire world from it was an incredible experience. I also loved exploring the Colombian villain la patasola, who, combined with a few other myths, became la pelilarga in the book. Strong, compelling women villains can be hard to come by, but they are everywhere in Latinx folklore, so offering my own spin on their stories was one of my favorite parts about writing this first book in the series.
And lastly, what is something you want to tell your readers or something you’d like them to take away from your story?
I want to tell my readers that as fantastical as having an emblem, or superpower, seems, it isn’t just fantasy—we all have an emblem within us, whether it’s a creative talent or something that makes us unique. Just like Tor, Melda, and Engle, be bold, don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t be, and live bravely!
About the author
Alex Aster is the award-winning author of the Emblem Island series, the first of which was named one of the 20 Best Books of the Year by Amazon, and a Most Anticipated 2020 Release by Good Morning America and Seventeen Magazine. Her debut is based on Latinx myths from her Colombian heritage. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in New York.
About the book
Publication date : June 9th, 2020
Publisher : Sourcebooks Young Readers
Genre : Middle Grade | Fantasy
Synopsis : On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.
Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.
The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.
With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.