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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > December 2017 > Practical magic

Practical magic

With a head full of magic, folklore and fantasy, and feet planted firmly on the ground, Joanne Harris is a storyteller with a universal connection, as Tina Jackson discovers


Enchantment is at the heart of Joanne Harris’s writing, and it permeates her home environment as well: the scent of woody incense drifts through the air in her warm, book-lined library; the Green Man is painted on stained glass that looks out towards woodland, and the back of the door is adorned with an ecclesiastical robe, a feather boa and a horned devil’s mask.

‘It’s not a devil’s mask,’ she corrects, firmly but kindly. ‘It’s a Japanese theatre mask.’ The former teacher combines a searching mind and a fascination with otherworldly possibilities with a passion for accuracy – and knowledge. So when we settle down to discuss her new book A Pocketful of Crows – a powerful, darkly magical folkloric tale – the first thing she talks about is a backstory of scholarly exploration.

A Pocketful of Crows sort of happened by accident,’ Joanne says. Sitting by her fire to talk to her, there’s a sense of ‘are you sitting comfortably’; of being drawn into a layered, fascinating world of stories. ‘I wasn’t particularly looking to write something – I was writing something else – and I was doing a festival on the Isle of Skye and spent a few days there. I bought books from a second-hand dealer – often I just buy books out of impulse – and there was an almanac from about 1800, a book about flora and fauna of the highlands, one on lighthouses, one about men and herring.

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About Writing Magazine

Free your mind! In the new issue of Writing Magazine we look at finding new ways to expand your creative horizons. We also take a look at editing, and offer a practical plan to take your work from messy manuscript to a clean draft that will impress editors. In our star interview, Joanne Harris talks about folklore, fairy tales and sprinkling magic into your fiction. Plus inspiring ideas, practical exercises, success stories, writing prizes to win and much, much more!

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