Witch Way by M.A Marino
“Evil isn’t something you are, it’s something you become.” Jessica O’Rourke is learning the dangers that young witches face when dabbling in not-so-good magic for personal gain. All of the women in Jessie’s family are witches. Not the kind of witches that fly on brooms or cast spells with pointed sticks. They’re the kind of witches that Jessie’s mother called practical witches—that is, until she got killed. The worst part about her mother’s death is that her father was the one who did it and now Jessie has to live in a house full of witchy aunts who remind her way too much of how sad she is inside. Jessie’s father has gone missing but she knows he’ll back to take down the rest of her family. After an encounter with a group of girls, who Jessie’s Aunt Abby describes as “bad news,” Jessie finds herself in a heated battle with the warlocks that threaten to destroy her entire bloodline. In time, she unveils an unimaginable secret about herself that will surely alter her future. Jessie has to decide which way she will turn and how she will use her new powers to stop her father from hurting anyone else. Can she stop herself from becoming evil in the process?
The oak tree was at the far end of the orchard by a decrepit old barn. Jessie tucked her phone into her jeans and carried a flashlight most of the way through the orchard. The full moon partially illuminated the land, glazing the foliage in a silvery-blue. Maybe Abby could glamour my hair the color of the twilight. Working her way down the trail, she spotted a basket of freshly picked apples that someone had left. She helped herself to one and tucked it into the pocket of her hoodie. When the apple trees thinned, she was able to see the branches of the oak tree dancing in the moonlight as a gentle breeze passed. A soft orange glow emanated from behind the base of the tree and Jessie imagined that the girls had started a campfire. Pocketing her flashlight, she hurried toward the light. Jessie heard the girls talking as she drew closer. She was suddenly nervous and decided to sneak over and hide in the shadows of the tree trunk hoping to overhear what the girls were talking about. “Did you bring it?” Storm asked. “Of course,” Tandora answered. Jessie peeked around the tree and saw Tandora set down a small burlap sack beside the fire. The sack moved around as if there was a bunch of snakes trapped inside it. Jessie’s breath caught in her throat and a shiver ran down her spine. Storm took off her coat and bent down to remove a double-bladed black handled knife from a red cloth. Storm pointed the knife to the sky and the other girls took their places on opposite sides of the fire. Jessie never saw anything like this before. Suddenly her stomach started getting sick and the hair on the back of her neck stood up again. She was beginning to wonder if ghosts were actually around. She looked around but couldn’t see anything at all. It was almost like the fire and the girls were all that existed. “She’s not going to show up,” Delia said. “It doesn’t matter. Three is just as powerful as four,” Storm responded. “Four is stronger,” Delia argued. “Did you bring the pills?” Tandora interrupted the disagreement. “Yeah, but I got ripped off,” Delia said. “We needed them anyway. Let’s just get going,” Storm said as Delia handed each of them a little blue pill. Jessie frowned when she realized why Abby had said these girls were bad news. They did drugs and that just wasn’t something Jessie agreed with. And not only that, but they were taking drugs around a campfire with a knife. That’s a strange recipe for disaster. After each girl swallowed the pill, Storm began to speak. “Hear our call, Lady of the Underworld. We draw you into our hearts,” she said, holding her arms open to the sky. Jessie’s heart gave one of those leaps that hinted to her that something bad was about to happen. What did Storm think she was doing calling upon a Lady of the Underworld? There wasn’t any such thing. Jessie knew this because she’d seen witches do chanting, and calling nature, and stuff, but they certainly never called Underworld people. Goddesses were something totally different. The fire seemed to get a little bigger and the hair on her arms stood on end. Jessie’s arm hairs only did that when magic was around her, but this magic made her feel sick instead of elated and powerful. Jessie was about to run when Delia threw some silver powder into the fire. The flames lapped wildly as if they were trying to lick the sky. Storm handed the knife to Tandora who used it to slice the palm of her hand. She then flicked droplets of her blood into the fire. Jessie covered her mouth to prevent herself from gasping. It was at that moment she realized that the knife wasn’t an ordinary knife. It was an athame. Jessie’s aunts had athames in the basement that they use for cutting herbs and casting spells. She remembered seeing the athames when she was little. She also remembered seeing her aunts do something similar and put their own blood into their herb mixes. It made her realize that these girls knew what they were doing, and she knew it wasn’t good magic they were conjuring. The other two girls passed the dagger around and followed suit. All three of them held their hands, palm up, near the fire and Storm spoke in words Jessie couldn’t understand. Jessie’s heart raced when she heard the incantation and the drawing of dark magic. She gripped the tree and began quickly planning a way to get out of there before they noticed her. All three girls remained still when Storm spoke again. “Personal sacrifice draws you into our bodies. Ultimate sacrifice draws you into our souls.” When Storm finished speaking, Tandora picked up the burlap sack and pulled out a small black kitten by the scruff of its neck. It mewed wildly, but Jessie heard the cries as weak calls for help. Tandora held the kitten at arm’s length when Storm moved in with the dagger. Jessie leapt out from behind the tree without thinking. “Don’t! Leave her alone!” The girls startled when they heard her and glared in her direction. Storm snatched the kitten from Tandora and raised the dagger. “No!” Jessie shouted. She waved her hand over the fire, wishing that something would knock Storm over. Suddenly, the flames erupted and lashed at Storm. She screamed and dropped both the kitten and the dagger. The kitten ran toward Jessie. “C’mon hurry!” Jessie urged, then scooped it up and tucked it quickly into her jacket. Delia and Tandora shouted and ran at Jessie who waved her hand at the fire again. This time, the flames thrust out in front of the girls, knocking them back. Jessie looked at her hand in amazement before bolting away from the scene. She heard Storm shout a few curse words after her. Holding the kitten inside her coat, she ran all the way back to the house.
1. What is the easiest thing about writing? Dreaming up the stories! 2. What is your favorite book and why? Harry Potter (all of them) for certain. They were the first books I ever read cover to cover and the first series. I grew up with those books and I’ve read them all at least a dozen times. 3. If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Oh that’s a hard one. I would have loved to author one of the classics like The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) or As I lay Dying (William Faulkner) 4. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? The chapter where Jessie rescues Poe. And that’s all I’m saying about that! 5. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring authors? Write every day. Ignore the doubters, the naysayers, and the critics. Just write. 6. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? Hmmm… I guess I sat on it for a while before submitting. I was waiting for something… perfection? Divine intervention? I’m not quite sure. It was finished nearly a year before I sent it off. Part of me wishes I queried it sooner. 7. What has been the most surprising thing about the journey of writing books? Receiving the ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) in the mail and opening the package to find a neatly bound, freshly printed book and knowing that you wrote it. To hold something so tangible and say, “I made this. I wrote it.” There’s nothing like that experience. Each time it’s a surprise. 8. Where do you get your inspiration from? Other people. Their stories, their struggles, and heartaches. It’s important that people know that they’re not alone in the world. The same is true for my characters. They’re not alone. Eventually, someone will understand and love them no matter what. There’s hope. So yeah, I draw my inspiration from the condition of being human. About M.A Marino: M.A. Marino grew up just outside of New York City, spending most of her formative years outdoors creating wild ghost hunts with neighborhood kids, setting booby-traps to capture unwitting family members, and building clubhouses on top of ten-foot walls. She wrote her first story at the age of twelve and titled it Circles of Friendship. Through the years, M.A. Marino wrote several short-stories and poems, all of which met the wrath of the “Not Good Enough” monster and ended in fiery demise. She regained her confidence when she began writing scholarly articles and research theses on her first trip through graduate school. It took several years for her to break the habit of the formal writing that marred her creativity. An additional Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing was her biggest support in this. M.A. Marino writes primarily sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal romance, and Young Adult stories. Although M.A. Marino has two previously published novels, Witch Way is her first YA title.