Francesca Pelaccia is a new Canadian author, born and raised in Toronto. She studied English Literature at the University of Toronto and began her career in corporate editing and publishing before moving to teaching English as a Second Language to adult immigrants. The Witch’s Salvation is Francesca’s first published novel, but she is not new to writing. She has written several other manuscripts of different genres. Francesca likes to work on several projects at the same time. Currently she is writing the second book of the Witches’ Trilogy entitled The Witch’s Monastery, plotting a fun and fast-paced romp tentatively entitled Moses and Mac, and revising an old romance for today’s market.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Witch’s Salvation. When did you start writing and what got you into historical/paranormal?
I have been writing as long as I can remember. I used to write everywhere, as often as I could, and where I shouldn’t. At work, on the bus, at coffee shops, at my kids’ soccer or hockey games, any place I could comfortably use a piece of paper and a pencil. An idea would pop into my mind and I had to build some scene or story around it. Sometimes that scene turned into a full-fledged novel. Genre was never something that I worried about. I enjoy reading all genres as well as literary works, and I have tried my hand at several — mysteries, romances, fantasies and historical works. I think my love of all genres came into play with The Witch’s Salvation. The novel has a bit of every genre: history, mystery, romance, paranormal, and adventure.
What was your inspiration for The Witch’s Salvation?
When I sat down to research and plot out The Witch’s Salvation I had every intention of writing a light-hearted vampire novel about two adolescents who were born mortal to immortal shape shifters of royal lineage. While researching the setting of the Carpathian Mountains and vampire myths, I began to read about the history of Prince Vlad III, aka Dracula and was pulled into his ignoble history and deeds and all the myths and legends built up around them.
The novel is built around two historical facts. The first is an actual event. On Easter Sunday, 1457, Dracula invited the nobles and their families that had had a hand in the death of his father and older brother to celebrate Easter with him. After an elaborate religious ceremony and feast, he impaled the older nobles in the courtyard of his castle and forced the others to trek to a mountain top where they built him another castle. They all died during the construction. The second historical fact is a golden cup that Dracula kept in a public area, near a well or spring. People could use the golden cup to take a drink, but they could not take it. Should someone take it, he or she would have been immediately punished, probably impaled or some other form of slow death and torture. No one ever did.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I hope readers will come away completely and utterly entertained by The Witch’s Salvation because that was my only goal. Of course, there is a theme but the theme is never what authors of genre aim for with their novels. The theme is secondary and discreet. The first is entertainment, and if authors can entertain readers, then, they’ve succeeded with their writing. Readers, however, will pick up that The Witch’s Salvation is all about redemption. Redemption for the witch who wants to become a girl again, redemption for the two royal families that turned the girl into the witch, and redemption for the male and female protagonists, who just want to be free to live their lives on their terms.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes, it was a research challenge. The historical section of The Witch’s Salvation is set in a medieval East European town and the plot based on the actual events of a day and a priceless object. But the details surrounding the actual event and object were sketchy or available only in Romanian, a language I didn’t understand. Making sure the details about the event and object as well as about the towns, homes, castle, clothes, people, and so on, were correct was challenging. The last thing I wanted was some East European Medieval scholar, pointing out to the world how inaccurate my details were. The novel would lose credibility and so would I.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I am very disciplined. I work as a teacher, I have a family, and I have a house and garden that need attention. I try to work in time to exercise (try is the key word here) and to cook well-balanced meals. I also like to get in some pleasurable reading time and watch my favorite TV shows (Downton Abbey, The Newsroom, Dancing with the Stars, and Game of Thrones to name only a few). To do all that and also write, I need to be disciplined.
I tend to do most of my writing and researching after dinner for a couple of hours. My children are university-aged, so they don’t need me to help them with their homework except to proofread essays. My husband works shifts, so he may or may not be around in the evenings, and I refuse to do any housework except some tidying up until the weekend. This routine works for me, but may not work for other authors.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Just do it! I have been writing all my life. When I was younger I used to write for fun. It was wonderful just letting my imagination go and writing. There were no worries about plot, or character arcs, or historical accuracies. Then life got in the way — work, family, and of course all those bills. I wrote but when I had the time. Also, the rules of how to write became paramount. They were drilled into me by everyone and anyone connected to writing — agents, publishers, other authors, critique partners, teachers. Writing became difficult. Now, I’m back to writing as I started off. For the joy of it, but enriched with what I have learned. For all you authors out there: believe in yourself, never give up, and go for it!
George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Comments?
Sorry, George — excuse me, Mr. Orwell, but you’re much too negative. Please don’t turn around in your grave or come toToronto and haunt me, but I’d like to rephrase your words. “Writing a book is an exciting, exhausting challenge, like a turbulent first love affair. One would never fall headlong into the relationship if one were not driven on by a lust that one can neither resist nor understand.”
I love writing. There are many aspects of writing that are dull or frustrating (the editing, the rewrites, the “what now”, the business and marketing side, and so one), but they are all part of any love-hate relationship, and I love a good love-hate challenge.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Pick up a copy of The Witch’s Salvation. You’ll be swept away in its story and forget all about sleeping. The characters will also live with you even after you’ve finished reading the book. Just read some of the readers’ reviews. Most agree.