I’m so delighted to welcome back Mary Angela! She is one of those people that you instantly like when you meet them and she’s a talented novelist. Halloween books are so much fun. Here’s a little about her newest book Midnight Spells Murder the second book in the Happy Camper mystery series:
Spirit Canyon’s annual Spirit Spooktacular weekend is on, and for local amateur sleuth Zo Jones, it’s boom time for business at her Happy Camper gift shop . . . until a murderer drops in for a browse.
To celebrate Halloween at the Happy Camper, Zo schedules a talk by successful author and self-proclaimed witch Marianne Morgan. Although Marianne’s benign brand of witchcraft is more about feminine empowerment than black magic, her presence is still not welcomed by everyone. Then on a midnight stroll home, Zo spots what seems to be a new Halloween decoration propped up outside the Happy Camper. What she finds is not a mannequin but a dead Marianne, her lifeless body dressed in traditional witch’s garb. But why would someone send this good witch back to the spirit world permanently?
Soon Zo realizes that plenty of folks have motives for murdering Marianne. What’s worse, nosy TV newsman Justin Castle plans to broadcast a report associating Marianne’s murder with the Happy Camper. Zo calls on her partner in sleuthing, local forest ranger Max Harrington, to help her find the culprit before Justin’s report airs. Otherwise Zo’s business just might go bust. But to catch this killer, Zo will have to risk much more than just her reputation . . .
Mary: What do you think of when you see the word witch? Green face, crooked nose, large wart? Or perhaps something akin to a mean girl: pretty, snobbish, and spoiled. Maybe neither but a beautiful witch like Samantha Stephens from the television show Bewitched. When I first started writing Midnight Spells Murder, I had a celestial person in mind, for certain a woman, and perhaps one in tune with nature. What I discovered was another possibility.
My amateur sleuth, Zo Jones, invites an author—a witch—to her Happy Camper gift shop for a special Halloween book signing. Like many authors, this one decides to do a talk about her book, and it includes a little of what I myself discovered about witches.
While doing research, I came across an article about a book titled Witch: Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic by Lisa Lister. A few clicks later, I’d bought the book and was several chapters deep. Lister herself is a third-generation witch and discusses the negative connotations associated with the word. I recognized them instantly. What I didn’t immediately comprehend was the far-reaching history behind them.
Of course, certain people and organizations would take umbrage with women who claim to have power, including the power to heal others. Women are taught at a young age that they are the fairer and weaker of the sexes. A woman who asserts power might be threatening to some who expect authority to come from doctors, scientists—men. By turning witches into hideous creatures (or in Samantha Stephens’ case, a cute mischief maker), they effectively revoke her power. The witch becomes evil, cruel, or cute, but always incapable.
Much of what Lister talks about is memory. She reminds readers that women are powerful. By reawakening the power within themselves, women can connect to a deep heritage of other powerful women. One doesn’t have to be pagan or religious to recognize the power. In the simplest definition, a witch is an “unapologetic woman” who “trusts her inner authority and doesn’t look outside herself for validation and/or approval.”
Reclaiming one’s power isn’t as otherworldly as it might seem. Sometimes it’s as simple as standing up for others, one’s self, or important causes; understanding Mother Nature; or not holding back. The book includes exercises to help readers reconnect to their inner witch and achieve these goals. Some of them are physical, some of them are mental, and, in my opinion, all of them are fascinating.
Witches have power, but words have power, too. It’s a message we relearn again and again. In Midnight Spells Murder, Zo discovers a witch isn’t a bad person. In fact, she’s a very good person for whom Zo must find justice. Luckily for her, it’s Halloween in Spirit Canyon, and this witch has a little magic up her sleeve! All Zo needs to do is trust herself to solve the mystery.
Readers: Did you have a favorite Halloween costume? Were you ever a witch?
Bio: Mary Angela is the author of the Happy Camper cozy mystery series, the Professor Prather academic mystery series, and several short stories. When Mary isn’t penning heartwarming whodunits, she’s teaching, reading, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, daughters, and spoiled pets. You can find out more about her loves, including her writing, at MaryAngelaBooks.com