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Bait and Witch: A Witch Way Librarian Mystery By Angela M. Sanders: Review/Giveaway/Interview

IN THE January 30 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFantasy & Fangs,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of Bait and Witch by Angela M. Sanders along with an interesting interview with Angela. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon and an indie bookstore.

Bait and Witch: A Witch Way Librarian Mystery by Angela M. Sanders
Review by Cynthia Chow

If she hadn’t overheard that one conversation, Josie Way would still be working in her dream job as a librarian in the Library of Congress. But listening to a senator’s aide make an illicit deal with a contractor forced Josie to report it to the authorities, which had her fleeing D.C. after her fellow whistleblower disappeared and she feared that she could be next. The opportunity to become head librarian in Wilfred, Oregon, seemed like the perfect opportunity to duck out of town and lay low, especially since it had the additional benefit of living in an apartment above the library itself. While the haunted-looking gothic building is definitely not what Josie envisioned, she’s even more devastated to learn that the library may not outlast the month. The will set by Marilyn Wilfred stipulated that the building must benefit the town, and trustees are divided on how to continue to fulfill that order. While library proponents proclaim it as a community center, educational necessity, and anchor for their history, an offer is pending to demolish the decrepit building and convert it into a retreat center. Josie had only planned to stay in the rural town until the heat died down and it was safe for her to return to her old job, but now she is beginning to feel invested in the antiquated but charming Wilfred Library.

Card catalogs, no computers, and rotary phones have their appeal, although the use of the bathroom and tub as a public bathing area is a little questionable. What is truly astounding for Josie, though, is that she is developing an eerie talent for suggesting the perfect book for her patrons. Giving out titles of books she never before knew is disturbing in itself, but even more so are the books that keep appearing just when she needs them. She’s going to need all the assistance she can get when she discovers a body outside of the library, and Josie can’t help but wonder if danger has followed her from D.C. While the sheriff makes a quick arrest, not everyone in Wilfred is as convinced that he has the culprit, especially as tension heats up before the library’s impending sale. The town nearly went bankrupt after the Wilfred mill shut down and then burnt down twenty-five years ago, and resentment towards the family still simmers. The chance to have a new tourist-attracting retreat center could vitalize the town, but it could also cost them their most valuable community gathering place.

For any librarian, Josie’s magical ability to gift library users with the exact book they didn’t know they need would be enviable, although she finds that her growing power to also be terrifying. Calls to her family members have her torn between embracing or tamping down a potentially dangerous force, and the choice she must make is heart wrenching. This first of the series introduces the new magical world Josie is discovering, from colors being brighter to a very opinionated familiar cat. When a Wilfred descendant arrives along with the body, and Josie is more than a little suspicious that he is linked to a break-in and arson at the library. The trustee who owns the local diner, the tarot-reading half-sister of the sheriff, and a secret romance-writing library assistant all make Wilfred a place Josie and readers quickly grow to love. A strong mystery with a surprising, action-filled ending will have readers anxious for the next adventure in this witchy, book-loving new series.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Interview With Angela M. Sanders:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

AMS: I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was old enough to hold a pen, but my first magazine article was published 14 years ago.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Angela M. Sanders

AMS: The Lanvin Murders came out in 2014. It’s a light mystery featuring Joanna Hayworth, proprietress of a vintage clothing store in Portland, Oregon. Her adventure begins when a safe deposit box key falls out of a luxurious 1938 Lanvin coat, sold to her by a long-retired exotic dancer. The dancer is found dead in the store not long after, and the coat has vanished. The Lanvin Murders is the first of, so far, six vintage clothing mysteries.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

AMS: As far as novels go, I’ve written only mysteries. However, I’ve also written pretty much everything else, from congressional testimony, to lengthy magazine features, to the text on the side of a perfume box.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

AMS: The idea of writing a series featuring a witch librarian came from my agent. At first I was skeptical. A witch? A librarian? What did I know about that? However, once I started brainstorming, I was absolutely hooked. I had so much fun with it. Now I hope the series will last forever!

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

AMS: For the most part, I write to entertain. I want to create a world that’s comforting and safe, but still roils with emotion, suspense, and humor. That said, I believe good storytelling always contains bits of truth that give readers something to think about as they navigate their own lives.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

AMS: I write every morning for an hour or two for the first few drafts of a novel. When I’m deep in revision, I extend that time into the afternoon.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

AMS: I plot using a four-act structure. Once I’ve identified those four major turning points, I brainstorm scenes on index cards, then file them in their act “buckets.” Once I can feel the story’s shape, I transfer the loose outline to Scrivener. This way I know each story’s major direction, but I still have lots of room for my imagination to take over.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

AMS: My best creative time is first thing in the morning, preferably when it’s still dark out and the rest of the world is asleep. I can revise or research in the afternoons and evenings, but chipping away at the first draft comes most easily for me in the morning when the muse is rested and feeling her oats.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

AMS: The old saying goes that luck favors the prepared. This was certainly true for me. I wrote The Lanvin Murders, the first of my Vintage Clothing mysteries, and found an agent after a few dozen query letters. Over the next two years, the agent submitted to only two publishers, both of whom passed on the series. Frustrated, I broke up with the agent and published the novel myself, and it jumped to the Amazon Top 10 Hot New Releases list.
Now I have a different agent, and he’s been super active on my behalf, including getting me the Kite Shop Mystery series at Berkley Prime Crime (written as Clover Tate), and my current contract at Kensington, where I just launched Bait and Witch, the first in the Witch Way Librarian cozies. I continue to indie-publish the Vintage Clothing mysteries, and they do well, and I’m super happy with the professionalism, warmth, and care at Kensington. I truly feel I have the best of both worlds!

KRL: Future writing goals?

AMS: I’d love to keep writing the Witch Way Librarian cozies. I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’m also toying with the idea of a slightly more serious series featuring a high-end cat burglar who I’ve already introduced in my two Booster Club capers.

KRL: Writing heroes?

AMS: I adore Jonathan Latimer, MFK Fisher, and Helen McCloy, to name just a few. EB White’s prose is always inspiring; reading his work is like drinking pure clean water. I love how Anthony Horowitz has brought the feel of golden age detection novels to his contemporary mysteries. I’ll read anything Fred Vargas writes for her quirky yet serious characters.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

AMS: For the Witch Way Librarian cozies, I’ve consulted with a local witch—a wise woman and long-time priestess named Pomegranate Doyle—about curses and land spirits. I also interviewed librarians. I pored over floor plans for Victorian mansions and visited a few old timber towns so that I could create a believable Wilfred, the town in which Bait and Witch takes place.

KRL: What do you read?

AMS: I’m hooked on vintage crime novels, especially those written by women. I love vintage clothing and old movies, so street scenes spring to life in my brain, complete with gloves, Packards, and fringed lampshades. Mabel Seeley, Delores Hitchens, and Lenore Glen Offord are among my favorites. I’m on a Helen McCloy binge right now and can’t recommend her enough. That said, I read just about everything!

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

AMS: I watch Auntie Mame at least once a year, and You Can’t Take It With You always cheers me up when I’m down. I don’t watch much TV. I bet I’m the only person within a square mile who doesn’t have a Netflix account. It’s not because of snobbery, but because my TV is in the basement, aka the “TV grotto.” You wouldn’t want to go down there, either.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

AMS: My instinct is to say, simply, write, and keep at it. But let’s take it a step deeper. Writing carries a lot of emotional baggage. You can go to a party and tell people you play the ukulele, and they’re thrilled. They don’t expect more than a semi-competent take on “Red River Valley.” If you tell them you write, they ask, “Are you published? Have I read you?” (To which the savvy writer will reply, “I don’t know. List all the books you’ve read, and I’ll tell you if you get to one of mine.”) The other thing you hear is, “I’m going to write a book once I get the time.” They tap their skulls as if writing is simply a matter of turning on a literary spigot. “It’s all up here,” they say. Uh huh.
Writers often feel defensive or timid about their work. They feel they have to write a literary gangbuster or earn the blessing of editors and publishers to be worthy. My advice is to examine why you want to write and find your motivation within yourself—not from other people. Write because you love it. Write because you keep learning, you uncover new aspects of yourself, you enjoy the community, you see the world through a crisper lens, you surprise yourself. This should be writing’s primary reward. Getting published is gravy.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

AMS: I spent 11 years as a congressional investigator. Also, I’ve written about perfume for nearly 15 years and have a special interest in vintage fragrances. I’m a decent tarot card reader. I love an icy martini, a hot bath, old books, and fresh dahlias.

KRL: How fun! Website? Twitter? Facebook?

AMS: Website: www.angelamsanders.com
Facebook: @authorangelamsanders
Instagram: angela.m.sanders

To enter to win a copy of Bait and Witch, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bait,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 6, 2021. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaime Minter
Twitter: @Jaime
January 30, 2021 at 8:57am

Thanks for the interview! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

Reply

2 Glen Davis January 30, 2021 at 10:24am

A very informative interview! Count me in the drawing!

Reply

3 Teresa Warner January 31, 2021 at 11:40am

Enjoyed the interview, this would be a new author for me! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

4 Dianne Casey January 31, 2021 at 2:14pm

Sounds like a great new series. Already on my TBR list. Looking forward to reading the book.

Reply

5 Kara Marks January 31, 2021 at 4:01pm

This looks really cute! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

Reply

6 Sherry Brown February 1, 2021 at 11:10am

I love the question and answers to and from the author!
It’s such a great way to get to know them.
The book sounds great and the cover is too!
Thank you for the great giveaway!

Reply

7 Mary Holshouser February 4, 2021 at 8:48am

Being a retired librarian and an
avid reader, I always enjoy books
with libraries and librarians.
thanks.
txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

8 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
February 8, 2021 at 9:42pm

We have a winner!

Reply

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