Witch Lit Wednesday: Why “Witch Lit?” What is it?

I often classify my writing as magical realism, which has been wonderfully explained by others such as this helpful series. I think my books sometimes veer close to being supernatural, especially the third, but the plots remain rooted in a realistic, contemporary setting. The characters have experiences with spirits, sometimes in corporeal form, who scare, confuse, inspire, and guide them. Lacey, Cian, Anthony, Margaret and others often doubt themselves, but as they move forward, they realize these beings are an integral part of reality, though others may not experience them. This is something many polytheists and animists experience too.

My second book surrounded by items from my craft that are relevant to this story about contemporary Pagans.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may notice I also often make use of the “witch lit” hashtag when promoting my writing. Perhaps you’ve wondered about that and why I don’t simply stick to the magical realism label. What is it?

Again, others have written about the topic before me, notably author Wendy Steele who helps curate the Witch Lit account on Twitter. There are communities on Facebook and Discord for people who write and read it. Author Laura Perry discussed this and linked to some in a guest post on Nimue Brown’s blog. So what is it?

To me, Witch Lit is a sub-genre of magical realism, meaning it’s rooted in real witchcraft and folklore. That doesn’t mean one has to be a practicing Pagan to write or even appreciate it, but it should show an understanding of who we are (and have really been). Witch Lit, in my opinion, is not about Hollywood witchcraft. The Wicked Witch of the West and Hermione Granger are great examples of literary witches, but they aren’t based on reality like the aunties in Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed “Practical Magic” for example.

Photo by me.

When I realized I wanted River Magic to be more magical realism than fantasy, I was inspired by Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, but I thirsted for stories about people like me by people like me. (I’m not sure what Allen’s religious perspectives are…I can’t find them. Hoffman is Jewish.) So I did what so many writers before me suggested: wrote the story I needed.

Now, through the wonders of social media, I’m connecting with other Witch Lit writers such as Gwen Alyce Clayton, Serene Conneeley, and fellow Upstate New York resident Janina Grey! These are just a few who I’ve become acquainted with, but I know there are others, and I’m excited to get to know a more diverse circle and read their work. Each month, I aim to delve into more Witch Lit and share my recommendations. Stay Tuned!

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

%d bloggers like this: