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Shirley Damsgaard | "Witch" is Better — Romance or Mystery?

October 24, 2007

How did a small town Midwesterner ever decide to write about witches?? Well, I’ve always been the type of person who believed if I could read about it, I could do it, so when at the tender age of 48, I decided to write, I bought every book about the craft of writing that I could. The first piece of advice was to write what you like to read, and at the time I was reading a lot of romance. Okay, so we’ll try our hand at romance.

I bought (again) the books I deemed necessary to help me with my quest and set about writing a romance novella. I leaned two things. First of all, I can’t write a love scene to save my life!! And if one is going to write romance, love scenes are kind of important! The second thing I learned is that if you use a password, be sure, and write it down. You might not remember it six months down the road if you don’t. Yes, I pass worded that terrible novella, but forgot what it was! The good thing is—that piece of literature, and I use the term loosely, is forever lost and can never come back to haunt me!!

What to do now?? It was during one of my whines about my lack of skill that my late husband suggested I give mysteries a go. He pointed out I was always ruining movies for him by telling how they would end. He thought writing mysteries would be a more profitable way to exercise my talent at figuring out plots, and leave him alone to enjoy his movies!

Okay, so mysteries it would be, but what type of mystery? Since I have no background in a profession, such as law enforcement, that would lend itself to creating a detective, I knew my protagonist had to be an amateur sleuth. The problem was deciding what type of amateur sleuth. I’ve been interested in the paranormal since I was a teenager, so how about a psychic? What a great idea! It was such a great idea that several, already published authors, had the same thought! I needed a different kind of a hook.

Another interest of mine has always been folk remedies, herbs, old wives tales—it wasn’t much of a leap to jump from folk medicine to folk magick, hence witches. More books about the subject were purchased, and Ophelia and Abby were born! And it’s been fun! I’ve met psychics, real witches, a rune-master, a Native American medicine man, and lots of others who’ve made my life more interesting than I ever conceived it could be. Not bad for a small town Midwesterner who can’t write a romance!

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