One of my favorite books I’ve read this year was The Coven by Chrissy Lessey. I was fortunate to land an interview with her to talk about her book, her life, autism and more.
Your book is soaked with Carolina and the area around where you live. How important was location/geography to your writing process and the book itself?
CL: I find a lot of inspiration in the natural beauty of the Crystal Coast and that really helps my writing process. I don’t think The Coven could have been set anywhere else. The nearby barrier islands and Blackbeard’s history played a big role in the novel’s backstory. Most of the story is set in Beaufort, which somehow manages to be both historical and quirky – a perfect fit for the witches in The Coven.
Where did the idea of writing The Coven come from?
CL: No one is more surprised than I am that I wrote a fantasy novel. The idea came after my son, who has autism, had a particularly difficult day. I found myself wishing that there was a magical cure for his condition so that his life could be easier. That simple thought led me on an imaginative path of witches and autism that eventually became The Coven.
You work, are a mom and a wife, how difficult was it to find time to write and edit?
CL: It’s very hard to find time to write and edit. Like most moms, I tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own and it’s not unusual for me to miss an entire day (or week) of writing because there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. I’ve learned that I have to set a work schedule and protect it diligently.
You’ve been active with autism awareness in your personal life. Was writing the book therapeutic in some ways or difficult in some ways writing about something that’s so close to your heart?
CL: It was so difficult that I almost eliminated Charlie’s character altogether. Writing about his relationship with Stevie and her feelings about his diagnosis was painful for me. There was also tremendous pressure to get it right. We don’t see autism in a lot of commercial fiction, so I was determined to present a realistic and fully developed character with Charlie. The whole process was a tremendous challenge that turned out to be therapeutic by the end.
Now this book is part of the Crystal Coast series…what can we expect next?
CL: I’m working on the second book in the series now. With a modern day witch hunt at the heart of the story, it’s shaping up to be darker than the first one and the stakes are higher.
How much of your main character Stevie came from your experiences as a mother?
CL: Stevie’s life is infinitely more interesting than mine, but I’d say that my experiences made it easier to tap into her emotions. I think all mothers can relate to Stevie’s overwhelming drive to protect her son. Nothing transforms a woman faster or more thoroughly than a threat to her child’s safety.
Chrissy Lessey is an autism advocate, a coffee junkie, and an avid reader. She enjoys connecting with readers via social media and on her website, http://www.ChrissyLessey.com.