Season of the Witch

“Mab Walking to School” by Marcela Vargas

As the monsters, ghosts, and ghouls crawl out the shadows to drink blood red cocktails and eat bite-size bits of candy this weekend, I’m marking the birthday of my favorite wicked witch, Mab Ipswich.

Two years ago today, I sat in the Piper’s Alley Starbucks, before the inaugural meeting of the NLB, and scribbled out a short story about a wicked young witch. The story was inspired by the spooky, supernatural Halloween spirit in the air, and especially by memories of a particularly mischievous elementary school student I had in Japan named Yuka.

A few days shy of a year ago, that story, “Mab Ipswich: The Wickedest Witch,” was published in the November 2011 issue of the children’s macabre magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree. Since then, three more Mab stories have been published in Juniper Tree, along with a couple on this blog. The published stories have been illustrated by amazing artists from around the globe, and Mab even has merchandise now.

I’ve managed to write 19 Mab stories in these two years. And I’m currently working on a full Mab Ipswich book, a novel-in-stories about Mab’s magical misadventures at school, told from the perspectives of Mab’s teacher, her best friend, the boy who has a crush on her, the school bully, and finally Mab herself. My goal for the book is 19 stories (not including some of the stories I’ve written which aren’t set at school, and may go in future books) and at least 30,000 words. I’m currently at 13 stories, with 3 more in progress, and over 20,000 words. I have the remaining stories sketched out. There’s still a lot writing and revising to do, but for the first time in a long time on a writing project, I feel like I’m close. And I’ll raise a glass of pumpkin ale and a fun-fized Reese’s to that.

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  1. Austin that is awesome. Congrats to you. I’ve started writing again, too. Check this out, it’s not prose but there is a radio play part: maybe Mab can be serialised? (no, spellcheck, that does not need a Z – pronouned zed). Anyway, I have started writing again. I dunno, all that Sherlock stuff inspired me and I was wondering – how do you go about re-writing etc?

    • Yazz, I’m glad to hear you’re writing again! What kind of stuff are you writing? I’d love to see Mab serialized as a TV or radio show. Probably gotta finish the book before the networks come a-calling, though (and sadly, it seems like the BBC limits entrants to British citizens. If my dumb ancestors hadn’t left Britain in the 17th Century, I might have a shot!). For re-writing, I have a writing group where we review and edit each other’s stuff. It’s really helpful. So I take it to them, they break out the long red pens, and then I make (most) of the changes they suggest, along with other things that pop out at me.

      • Thanks! I’m really thrilled about it. It’s a drama, a screenplay actually, about a broken family. It started off as a short-story and a friend of mine read it and said – this makes no sense. 😀 So I sat with the idea for a few months and then it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to write it out as dialogue. So I started to write little snippets of conversation and then before I knew it, it was a stage play! Then I decided to re-format it into a screenplay – never written one of those in my life but it was great fun writing it and I’m glad it found it’s way. I gave it to another friend to read and she said, yes, it works. Submitted it last Thursday, doubt I’ll get a look in but gotta start somewhere. About the re-writing – you are so lucky that you have that group. I’m sure you benefit greatly from it. I will have to cast my net around and see if I can rustle something up here. I didn’t realise they don’t accept from overseas – I guess that makes sense. Maybe there is something state side that involves serialisation or competitions etc.

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