World's Oldest Fledgling

The blog of Stephanie Wardrop, Y A Author

WIP it Wednesday: Works (Not) Cited

on September 25, 2013

(Part One)

A whole lot of reading goes into writing.

I am always amazed when my students who’ve mentioned that they want to be writers come up with a blank when I ask them what they like to read. Some even admit that they don’t particularly like to read, so I have no idea why they want to write except out of some twisted sadistic impulse, but that’s not what I want to explore here.


Reading-toward-writing can be conscious, such as when you do research on a subject to help inform and flesh out your book. Sometimes it’s done for inspiration, such as when you turn to books that do a particular thing well, like presenting juicy kissing scenes, for instance, or the author was masterful at creating a certain feeling that you want to get into your book, like a character’s complex feelings when a loved one dies. But oftentimes, the influence/inspiration is unconscious. Everything you read informs your writing and your consciousness in some way, but I’m not going to be able to account for that here. (Or anywhere else!) Instead, I’ll share what I have consciously consulted while working on A Time of Shadows, my YA (sub)urban fantasy about a 400-year-old witch trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old Colorado high school student.

This week I’ll focus on the “conscious” research, although some of these texts, especially the films, were viewed/read long before I hatched the idea for the book.



  • I’ve already posted about WB Yeats’ The Celtic Twilight (1907), but that’s just one of many texts I’ve consulted so far, including
  • The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkranz, a seminal text in Rosicrucianism – I’m not sure I’ll use anything from this weird, mystical story, but the Rosicrucians (Knights of the Red Cross) will probably come into it as an ancient order that was created long ago to combat my villain.
  • String Theory for Dummies, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 2009 This one is kicking my butt intellectually, which I suppose puts me in the sub-“dummy” category. My writer friends reassure me that I don’t need to explain the magical mechanisms by which my sorcerers and others make stuff happen, but I really want to know what a wormhole is and understand dark matter. Maybe it’s the academic dork in me. Or maybe I just want to know what the guys are up to on The Big Bang Theory
  •  Image
  • Tarot for Dummies, Amber Jayanti, 2001. Not my favorite tarot book but the only one I own right now.  I started reading tarot when I was in high school and did off and on until someone stole my deck of cards when I was in grad school. I can only assume that that person has accumulated some formidable karma as a result. Tarot readings play a big role in the book. I’m looking for a good Celtic deck for myself now, or this awesome one I saw on Etsy with foxes that’s no longer available.
  • Daemonologie  and Newes from Scotland, 1597, King James VI and I. When he was just the King of Scotland (and not the whole UK), James got impatient when his second wife’s ship was delayed in getting her to the wedding so he sailed out to meet her. Such violent storms hit that he figured they had to be the work of a coven of witches (in Berwick, specifically) because who else would dare to mess with a King’s wedding plans? He became so obsessed with witches and destroying them that he wrote this manual and even participated in some witch trials.  He also re-wrote a little thing he liked to call The King James Bible and filled it with anti-witch stuff.
  • Scottish Witchcraft: The History and Magick of the Picts, Raymond Buckland, 1995
  • Website: Celtic Dress of the Sixteenth Century, Meistr Gwylyn ab Owain, Number one thing to remember about Scottish dress: tartan was not worn until the nineteenth-century after the Clearances.  The fact that several sources besides this have said that little is known about Scottish dress during this period equals an academy-mandated artisitic license in my name., as far as I’m concerned
  •        Image(And why wasn’t this cool Scottie the mascot when I went to CMU?)
  • Books about Wicca whose names I did not record because I am sloppy.
  • Life after Death, Damian Echols, 2012; the Paradise Lost: The Murders at Robin Hood Glen film trilogy, 1996-2012, dir. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky; West of Memphis, dir. Amy Berg, 2013.  I saw the first of the Paradise Lost movies about the West Memphis Three murder trial when it first came out in 1996 and thought that something just wasn’t right with these so-called experts claiming three high school kids in a Satanic cult murdered and mutilated three 8-year-old boys.  It took 20 years and a troubling Alford plea to get the WM3 out of prison. Their story reveals so much about what prejudice, classism, and hysteria can do to destroy the lives of people deemed as too different, and I have a character who is falsely accused of a crime somewhat like this.  Image Not because I want to capitalize anybody’s pain but because this kind of abomination should never, ever, ever happen again. And that’s what the book’s about.
  • A bunch of stuff read fifteen years ago about repressed memory and children’s accusations of Satanic abuse in preschools. I read it all for an academic paper I was writing analyzing The X-Files as a meditation on the culture’s recent infatuation with (and subsequent repudiation of) repressed memory. Can you believe that show premiered 20 years ago?Image
  • Books and articles about Robert Boyle, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and alchemy, all elemental in creating the book’s villain figure, who abuses the sort of power these guys hoped to master.
  • Christina Larner, Enemies of God: The Witchhunt in Scotland,1981. Such gripping stories I almost want to retell all of them in the book. I’ll probably end up not even retelling any of them, but they certainly inform what I have happen to Becca and her mom and aunt back in the early 1590s.  And it’s where I learned about witchprickers. (You’ll have to Google that or wait for the book!)
  • Cotton Mather Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions  1689.  Lots of good quotes and proof that this country was founded on the persecution of women/witches.  Here in Springfield, Massachusetts, four people, , including Hugh and Mary Parsons were put to death in 1652 for crimes of witchcraft. I might put their names in the book just for fun whenever I get stuck for a name.

There were so many more books whose names I didn’t jot down and there will be many more.  And these are just the ones I consciously chose to inform the book.

Next week, I’ll do my best to uncover the ones with an unconscious (mostly) influence.

Until then, happy reading and writing.

What I’m reading


What I am rereading


What I am listening to

Image The Kinks on Pandora internetradio


One response to “WIP it Wednesday: Works (Not) Cited

  1. El Keter says:

    The Parsons case is part of some research I’m doing for a project of my own. I don’t believe Hugh or Mary Parsons were “put to death” for witchcraft. While both were accused of witchcraft, Mary wasn’t convicted, and instead died in prison awaiting trial for separate charges that she’d murdered her own child, and Hugh, while convicted, moved away from Springfield and died of natural causes. If you don’t mind my asking, who are the other two victims of witch hysteria you mentioned?

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