September 30, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Year Of The Witching Author Alexis Henderson Chooses Authors For Her Coven And Their First Plan Of Attack In Today’s Interview

Year of the Witching Author Alexis Henderson Discusses An Author's Coven, Witchy PMS, and More In This Spell-Binding Interview.

Author Alexis Henderson Interview

Author Alexis Henderson is having one hell of a year. Her debut novel, Year of the Witching has stormed the publishing world. You don’t have to take my word for it. After Year of the Witching was both a Publisher Weekly and Booklist Starred Review, Booklist went a step further, naming it one of the top ten SF/Fantasy and Horror Debuts. I have an inkling; this is the first of many honors to come for Alexis Henderson.
Alexis Henderson a Black Author that has seen a swell of support in the on-going (it is not new to this year, just louder amidst the national protests) fight against a publishing industry structured against them. The opportunity to interview Alexis Henderson a month after the release of her debut, Year of the Witching, and during this time is an honor.

A Sequel To Year Of The Witching? 

1) I don’t believe it was ever marketed as a duology, but I heard a rumor that there might be a sequel? Is this true?

That is, in fact, true! I was lucky enough to sell two books to my publisher! It is also true that THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING hasn’t been marketed as a duology, because it isn’t one, necessarily! Right now, I’m approaching it as a series, but we’ll see where Immanuelle’s story takes me. Time will tell!

Immanuelle’s Resonance Today

2) These are undoubtedly unprecedented times. Being a debut author is (from what I’ve observed and discussed with others, in interviews) already nerve-wracking. With the pandemic and protests for Black Lives Matter, generally, and specifically in publishing, how have you balanced it as a debut author? And how much has it influenced you, if at all? How much of the reality of oppression, played into Immanuelle’s experiences throughout the story?
I’m not sure how I have balanced it, honestly. I feel like we’re all just doing the best that we can to cope with this new reality and taking things one day at a time. These harrowing times have definitely influenced me—my creative output is lower than average, and my anxiety is higher. I often struggle when it comes to promoting myself because I feel like there are issues far more important than my book and I don’t want to detract from them. That said, I do think that THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING is very much a story of our times and it’s my hope that people see themselves in Immanuelle’s journey and take comfort in both her struggles and her triumphs.

Come For The Horror And Get Blinded By…

3) What was most incredible, to me, about Year of the Witching is the part I didn’t expect. I would call it Act two of the book. That is when Immanuelle becomes fierce and basically decides to burn everything down. Did you want the promotion and marketing to focus more on the occult/horror part of the books, mentioning only briefly that there are oppression vibes? Was that intentional?
So, I have an absolutely amazing team (shout out to the wonderful people at Berkley/Ace and Penguin Random House at large) behind the promotion for THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING. What was revealed, and how much, was really more their wheelhouse than mine. That said, I think there was definitely a balancing act between portraying the book accurately and not revealing too much. I think they did an excellent job of revealing just enough to tantalize potential readers, without revealing any spoilers.

Alexis Henderson Interview

Immanuelle And Bethel

4) Was there any point in writing Immanuelle’s character that she didn’t go back to Bethel? To be honest, and I noted this in my review, I didn’t understand why she would want to after how she was treated. But then, at one point, it came to me, with stunning clarity, because of your writing that as the blurb states, changing herself wasn’t enough. She had to try to shift Bethel, too.  So, I’m curious if you ever wondered if Immanuelle shouldn’t go back, if a part of her growing was ridding herself of the toxicity Bethel put upon her, by walking away.
There was never a time when Immanuelle didn’t return to Bethel. Even though I, like you, can’t say I would have made the same choice she did. One of the things I love most about Immanuelle’s character is her near-unwavering belief that justice and goodness and the hope for a better future is worth fighting for. I think that mentality is at the very core of her character, which is why there was never a reality where she didn’t return to Bethel and try to save it.

5) How Much Of You Is In Immanuelle? 

Immanuelle and I share in our morbid curiosity and fixation with the grim, dark things of the world. That said, Immanuelle is far more brave and resilient than I could ever hope to be. In a way, she’s the person I want to grow to become.


6) When you have PMS, what kind of witch would you be, and what kind of spells would you be most likely to use?
Can I just say that I love this question? Honestly…I just want to be a kitchen/cottage witch who moonlights as a vengeful sorceress who hexes predators and abusers as punishment for their sins.
<snorts> Truth be told, this question started from a buddy read of Three Dark Crowns. I came up with when you have PMS, would you be an Elementalist, Naturalist, or Poison(ist? no- that isn’t right) when you had PMS… and it fits here, too. 🙂 Women and witches fit… But I’m glad you loved it!

7) Alexis Henderson Author’s Coven

I would invite Rena Barron author of KINGDOM OF SOULS, Emily Duncan author of WICKED SAINTS, and Shirley Jackson author of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE! The coven would definitely be a democracy, so no leader or supreme. The first plan of attack: co-writing the most terrifying, gothic, witchy, novel the world has ever read!
I want to beta read this book. I think that is only fair. ;P

The Ever-Talented Ms. Henderson

8) Outside of writing, what talent, skill, or hobby would you make a superpower right now?
I’ve always wished I could sing! Despite the fact that I have no vocal talent and I’m a terrible swimmer, I dream of being a sea siren.
I know someone <ahem> Leelyn @ SometimesLeelynReads/HearOurVoices wants to be a wicked mermaid… you two should talk!
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