An #Author #Interview with @Celine_Kiernan, Part 2: #writing #characters to hook #readers of any age

Jean Lee's World

199_Celine_webCeline Kiernan’s critically acclaimed work combines fantasy elements with the exploration of political, humanitarian and philosophical themes. She is best known for The Moorehawke Trilogy, a dark, complex trilogy of fantasy YA books set in an alternative renaissance Europe. In this second part of our interview, I ask Kiernan about writing characters and storytelling for a Middle Grade audience in her latest book, Begone the Raggedy Witches.

You created some amazing characters when you wrote The Moorehawke Trilogy. The trio of friends in the first book, The Poison Throne, are delightfully unique, genuine, and engaging. So much can happen in five years, especially when one changes from a child to a teen. What do you feel was the most challenging aspect of writing teenaged characters for The Poison Throne as opposed to writing them younger, or as fully-grown adults?

I didn’t find it a challenge. To be honest, I just write my characters…

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An #Author #Interview with @Celine_Kiernan, Part 1: #writing & #worldbuilding in #fantasy #fiction with a little help from #history

Jean Lee's World

199_Celine_webBorn in Dublin, Ireland, 1967, Celine has spent the majority of her working life in the film business, and her career as a classical feature character animator spanned over seventeen years, before she became a full-time writer. I am honored to spend this week and next sharing her thoughts on world-building, research, character, audience, and hooks.

First, let’s talk about the imagination behind the worlds. I see on your biography you spent years in film and animation. What drew you to visual storytelling as a profession before written storytelling? How does your work as an animator influence the way you write today?

farewell__inksketch_by_tinycoward_d1xwof1-pre Illustration of Chris and Wynter from Poison Throne

From the moment I could hold a pencil I was always either drawing or writing. In terms of satisfaction, I don’t think there’s a dividing line between the two disciplines for me. But at different stages in my life…

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Raggedy Witches Review

Fantastic Audio file Magazine review of Kate Rudd’s narration of Begone the Raggedy Witches ❤

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KidLit Book Review: Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan


Spooky KidLit


On the night that Aunty dies, the raggedy witches come for Mup’s family. Pale, cold, and relentless, the witches will do anything for the tyrannical queen who has outlawed most magic and enforces her laws with terror and cruelty — and who happens to be Mup’s grandmother. When witches carry off her dad, Mup and her mam leave the mundane world to rescue him. But everything is odd in the strange, glittering Witches Borough, even Mam. Even Mup herself. In a world of rhyming crows, talking cats, and golden forests, it’s all Mup can do to keep her wits about her. And even if she can save her dad, Mup’s not sure if anything will ever be the same again.

  • Title: Begone the Raggedy Witches
  • Series: The Wild Magic Trilogy, Book 1
  • Author: Celine Kiernan
  • Illustrator: Victoria Semykina
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • ISBN: 0763699969
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2018

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I <3 reader's letters

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Magic Animal Personas from Kingscourt

I haven’t had a chance yet to add all the names and details to these brilliant drawings, but I’ve left the marvelous artists waiting far too long for their work to see the light of day. I need to share them with you now. These are the animal personas of the pupils from St Joseph’s National School in Kingscourt.

As ever, I came away from my visit thrilled and inspired. Our young people are astounding, simply astounding. I have hope for the future and for our planet when I speak to them. The highlight of this event? The moment when the conversation about repressed magic turned into an earnest discussion of how the children would help combat repression – their answer? (I’m tearing up thinking of it) They would risk their lives to set up an underground newspaper so that everyone’s truth could be heard. The whole class chipped in, offering their own unique talents to help the resistance (‘I’ll fly the papers around, because I’ll have wings’, ‘I’ll protect everyone because I’d be big and strong’, and – to much hilarity – ‘I’ll turn into a pizza and feed everyone’)

We could all learn from these kids. All of us. When challenged to combat repression, their first thought was opening new and honest channels of communication with each other, and protecting each other while doing so.


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Lemoncello sing live at Raggedy Witches book launch

Thanks to everyone who turned up at the Begone the Raggedy Witches book launch last Thursday. Oh man, it was packed out, people came from London, Wexford, Cork, Belfast, Galway, Navan and Dublin. Folk brought cake (cake!) It was such a warm, happy, loving event. I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you, thank you for all your support.

I was thrilled to introduce everyone to the fantastic Lemoncello and to hear the full Raggedy Witches song performed live at the event. I think you’ll agree, this duo is amazing. ( Thanks to Conor Hackett for taking the above footage of their performance. I hope to make an animated video for the entire song later this year. And thanks too, to Toomey AudioVisual for handling the sound on the night)

It’s been a hectic and exciting week, and I’ve had a lot of fun. But I need to retreat for a little while now as I’ve a very tight deadline for the structural edits on Raggedy 2. I might be a wee bit quiet for a while. Until I return, enjoy this beautiful performance and (hopefully) enjoy Raggedy Witches too.

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