Today we are celebrating Diary of An Accidental Witch, a gorgeously fun diary style book ideal for fans of Amelia Fang, Sam Wu and Tom Gates. I am honoured to be hosting a reflection by Perdita and Honor Cargill on the joys and creative freedom of writing a witchy book and have been sharing Bea’s witchy book diary entries on Instagram all week!!
Mother and daughter writing duo along with the illustrative genius of Katie Saunders capture the cringe to the bone experience of not only being eleven and in a new village & school, but that your new school is a magical one for witches your dad mistakenly applied for instead of the shiny sensible results-driven Academy.
The ordinary girl accidentally stumbling into & faking it in a witchy world evokes the premise of The Little Broomstick but without the epic peril, instead Diary of an Accidental Witch focuses on social and emotional struggles of fitting in and trying to do well. It’s an absolute joy to read a book aimed at this age group where nothing ‘huge’ yet everything ‘small’ happens, the kind of real-life snapshots diffused through the witch-school dilemma lens which makes all readers who feel ‘fish out of water’ resonate and feel seen.
This thoughtful empathy rolled in humour makes me feel of the candour of adolescence in the Adrian Mole diaries and the hopeless disastery nature of Bea has a dash of The Tsang’s Sam Wu with his wobbly misunderstandings and furthermore the frankness of being that age of Laura Kirkpatrick’s Mermaid series but for younger readers and no romance.
This makes the ingredients for a potent potion; a playful and fun book that is painfully relatable for the young reader, well maybe not the whole levitating lessons and frogs in the classroom aspects, but hey, and the story is equally able to be enjoyed bite size and in one gulp.
Perfect for my Amelia Fang and Skeleton Keys loving 8 year old and of course, we definitely stan Stan 🐸 and now over to Honor and Perdita to tell us all about writing witchy books!
Thank you so much for inviting us to talk about witch books…
When our publishers came up with the idea of a diary series set in a witch school we were immediately excited – we could let our imaginations run wild and there was so much potential for comedy and silliness! We weren’t wrong – we’re currently editing the third book in the series and it has been such a happy project. So here are just a few of our favourite things about writing the series:
• Building the world of the Spellshire School of Extraordinary Arts. We went to town with class frogs (Stan is one of our favourite characters) and twisty chimneys (all the better to play GO – our broomstick game – with) and literal cloak and broom cupboards (where poor old Bea spends a lot of time in her first term).
• Bringing the characters to life is maybe the single most magical aspect of writing – and the scope in our witch world for ‘growing’ truly eccentric characters is huge!
• Weaving in important themes and messages. Bea (our main character) has no inherited witchiness – she learns magic through hard work and practice. In an odd way, that’s relatable – who hasn’t hoped that with enough hard work and practice they can pull off something properly magical (and maybe they can!)
• Writing kind and silly books. Although Bea faces more than her fair share of challenges (not just magical – she’s got a lot of ‘ordinary’ Year 7 stuff to juggle too), it’s a kind world, with supportive characters and happy endings.
We wanted to spend the rest of this piece acknowledging the big debt that all authors writing middle grade witch books owe to the brilliant witch books that have gone before so we thought we’d share a ‘special’ extract from Bea’s diaries, documenting some of her personal favourites. Of course they include the wonderful Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy. We were so sorry to hear of her recent death. These books (like all her books) are absolute classics and forever reads.
Monday 2nd September
Curled up in bed reading The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Feeling very sorry for Mildred because messing up potions ingredients is VERY easily done. Still, Tabby is a very comforting cat.
Tuesday 3rd September
5:03pm Toadstool Pond
Stopped on the way home to say hello to the newts and finish Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker. It’s so good! I am one hundred percent sure that Picklewitch would get on especially well with my friend Puck.
Wednesday 4th September
Oh dear. I was enjoying the Harry Potter books until the dementors turned up and now my bedroom is full of suspicious shadows. Gulp. Time to read another chapter of The Worst Witch.
Thursday 5th September
Best English class ever. Madam Binx read us out Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison as an example of v. good witchy rhyming.
Friday 6th September
Snuggled up in bed reading Morgan Charmley, Teen Witch by Katy Birchall. I suspect this author may be a witch because she knows that bats are bonkers and not to be trusted at social events.
Saturday 7th September
There’s a snowstorm outside so I’m curled up with a frog on my head, drinking hot chocolate and eating fluffmallows and re-reading The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol for the sixth time.
Sunday 8th September
Very confused by You Can’t Make Me Go to Witch School by Em Lynas. V. good story but why not? Witch school is the best!
Ive had the best time this week curating and sharing my witchy book photos with the exclusive bonus content! Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour for exclusive content from inspiration, the collaborative process and Q&As!
Diary of an Accidental Witch by Perdita & Honor Cargill illustrated by Katie Saunders is published by Little Tiger
Thank you so much to Dannie and Little Tiger for inviting me on the tour and providing me with a copy for honest review.