Friday, September 12, 2014

Interview with author Laura Emmons

You are reading that right. This week I’m interviewing myself on the eve of the release of my second novel, HEALING HANDS. I’ve taken three weeks off from writing my blog. First I had to get my son settled into the fifth grade. Then my sister traveled all the way from Oakland to visit us. Finally, I’ve reworked the covers on all three of the novels in my Queen of the Night trilogy and have line-edited the first two books in that series. I thank you for your patience and look forward to offering many more exciting author interviews in the near future, starting with my own project.

In January 2001, author Ginger Strivelli posted a blog article that captured my attention. She titled the article “Appalachian Granny Magic.” Here’s an excerpt of what she said:
     The Appalachian Granny Magic Tradition of Witchcraft is very old, dating way back to the first settlers of the Appalachian Mountains who came over from Scotland in the 1700's. They brought along their even older magical traditions with them. Those 'old world' traditions were blended with a dash of the local tradition of the Tsalagi (aka the Cherokee Indians).     The Witches of the Appalachian Mountains called themselves 'Water Witches' and/or 'Witch Doctors' depending upon whether they were personally more gifted in healing, midwifery and such realms of magic, or if they were more in tune with dowsing for water, ley lines, energy vortexes and the making of charms and potions. Often a Practitioner called themselves by both titles if they were so diverse in their Magical practices.
     The Appalachian Granny Magic Tradition, like many of the older ones, was passed on from parents to their children for many generations, and generally was not 'taught' outside of the individual family structures. Because of the rural and secluded nature of the Appalachian community, the old customs, wisdom, and practices were not as often lost, forgotten, or 'modernized' as the 'old world' traditions that came over to other, more urban areas of the 'new world.' Therefore, one will often find that ancient Scottish songs, rhymes, dances, recipes, crafts, and 'The Craft,' are more accurately preserved in Appalachia than even in Ireland or Scotland.
     Many of these old traditions, both magical and mundane, were carried on in Appalachia until modern times. Some songs, spells, and such have been passed down for many years that way, though sadly, sometimes only by rote, with the original meanings beings lost in the shifting sands of time.

Wikipedia states the following, under the heading of Granny Woman: “Granny women were healers and midwives in Southern Appalachia and the Ozark Mountains, documented as practicing from the 1880s to the 1930s. They were usually elder women in the community and were often the only practitioners of healthcare in the poor rural areas of Southern Appalachia. They seldom expected or received payment, and were respected as authorities on herbal healing and childbirth.”

Through the University of North Carolina Press, Anthony Cavender documented many oral histories and herbal remedies of Granny Magic practitioners in his 2003 book, Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia.

My father insists that his entire family, including me, has the magical gift of Dowsing, i.e., they are water witches. My maternal grandmother insisted that her father was a Mayan shaman who had psychic visions, and told me that I had visions too, when I was a small child.

After moving to a part of the Appalachian region, in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and seeing the beauty of the natural environment, how could I not latch on to the concept of Granny Magic? In my fertile imagination, the story of Maggie Stewart was born.

HEALING HANDS is the second book in the Queen of the Night series. It is not necessary to read the first book, SEEING MAGIC. However, those interested can find it available for free this weekend on 

     Last summer Maggie found out three things. First, magic exists. A whole community of magical humans and non-humans use magic to keep the balance of nature intact. Second, she is the daughter of two powerfully magical people. Her father was a Seer, a psychic, before he died in combat as a member of the Army’s Special Forces. Her mother is a Healer, she can direct spirit energy through her hands to heal the sick and injured. Maggie developed a magical gift no clan member had ever encountered. She can see both a person’s aura and any illnesses or injuries in their body. She calls it her Healer Vision. Third, her mom is sick. She battled breast cancer last summer, and won, but a tiny four millimeter tumor in the other breast made Maggie constantly vigilant.
     Now she’s sixteen, smart, athletic and devoted to her eleven-year old brother, Corey. She’s wanted to be a doctor since she was five; her unconscious mind accepted her future as a Healer even then. She matured over the summer, she doesn’t hold material things in as high a regard as the beauty of nature. She accepts responsibility and understands duty. Maggie is even able to hold her hormones in check, because the clan forbids a romance with Evan, so she agrees to be his best friend instead.
     Evan Keach is a seventeen-year old Seer. He was forced to grow up too soon when, at the age of fifteen, he was chosen to become a member of the clan council in his highly-secretive, tightly-knit, magical coven, the Cacapon Clan of Appalachia. Evan is more powerfully magical than most in his clan. As a result, they treat him strangely. They are afraid to get close to him because of his remarkable gift of premonition. At the same time, they are drawn sycophantically to his influence in the community because of his position in the local government. In particular, Madison, a twenty-six year old clan member, is obsessed with him to the point of stalking. Only Maggie and her Great-Aunt Fiona treat him normally. That’s why he’s devoted to his mentor, Fiona, and his best friend, Maggie. Secretly, he aches for a closer relationship with her, but clan law and the moon goddess forbid it.
     Two months ago, Maggie attracted the goddess’ attention. The Queen of the Night was outraged to learn that Maggie’s parents had a child. Knowing the legend of the Destroyer, Maggie lied to the goddess’ heavenly face. She told the goddess she had no siblings. Now she has to keep her brother off the goddess’ radar, and the best way to do that is to fulfill her own destiny and become the next Great Healer of Cacapon. The Queen of the Night has spies everywhere, and one of them seeks to win Evan for herself. Both Maggie and Evan are torn between their duty to the coven, their fear of the goddess, and the irresistible pull of their hearts. 
     On Halloween night, while her brother was trick-or-treating, her mom developed terminal cancer. Suddenly, Maggie's an orphan, a mid-year transfer student to a high school in eastern West Virginia, and the only person who can keep her little brother from destroying the cycle between Night and Day. 
     This year, Maggie is supposed to develop the crucial skill of energy-touch therapy (aka Healing Hands) so she can become the next great spiritual healer of the Cacapon clan of Appalachia. She also has to help her brother cope with the loss of their mother so he doesn’t turn evil. Furthermore, if she doesn’t find out who’s been murdering members of her family for the last seven generations, she’ll probably be next.

For more information on the Queen of the Night series, visit

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