Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publication Date: August 8th, 2017
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Synopsis: If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.
One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.
Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.
When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.
Where did you come up with the idea for Spellbook of the Lost and Found?
I sort of found it just lying around. I don’t tend to go into books with a plot – or even a fully formed idea – in my head. Instead I amass a collection of thoughts and snippets, little things I’d like to include. I knew I wanted to write about lost things in the same way that I knew with The Accident Season that I wanted to write about secrets, but apart from that I went in without any real plan. I stole a couple of the characters from stories I wrote when I was younger, I borrowed the wishing tree from the kinds of shrines you often see in parks and forests in Ireland, and I knew I wanted to write about tattoos and rusty keys, poteen and patron saints, family and friendship. The rest all came out as I wrote.
When you were a teenager, did you ever come across anything like the spellbook the girls found in your book?
Sadly no, although I did occasionally sneak into forests and cemeteries to cast spells. But when I was a teenager I lost a lot more than I found.
Did you ever have anything mysteriously go missing like the way they do in your story?
Things of mine go missing all the time, but there was one particular finding that was a bit magical. When my great-grandmother passed away when I was 15 she gave me one of her own mother’s (my great-great-grandmother’s) rings: a huge amethyst held in place by silver claws. When I was 17 I lost it. I was sure it was in the house somewhere so I searched everywhere for months before, heart bruised, I assumed I’d lost it forever. When, years later, I was moving into the house I live in now, I took the last of my teenage things out of my parents’ house. Still holding out hope that my ring was still around somewhere, I tore the bookshelves from the walls, I searched under the floorboards, I rifled through every nook and cranny, to no avail. Another couple of years later, just before our first child was born, my husband was clearing out a bunch of our old things to give to charity shops. In a box of random stuff that had come from my old bedroom in my parents’ house, there was a bag full of bags, including a moldy old raffia picnic basket. For some reason — call it divine inspiration — my husband decided to check the tiny inside pocket of the picnic bag. And inside it was my great-great-grandmother’s ring. It had been in there for ten years, and if we’d brought those old boxes to the charity shop without checking them, I’d never have known it was there all along.
Can you share story that you have heard or experienced that is kind of creepy or supernatural?
There are always little creepy stories, little unexplained things. A few years ago I was staying by the forest and had strange dreams of penciled animals with watercolor hearts running away from something and when I went into the forest later that morning there were bones and blood and I was sure something was in there with me. You could say it was a fox who’d killed a small mammal, or a deer between the trees, but it didn’t feel like either of those things. The feeling followed me until I could see the house up ahead and then it went away, and my goosebumps faded. You could say it was all in my head, you could say I have an overactive imagination, and you mightn’t be wrong, but eerie, unexplained things happen all the time. I think that’s a large part of what attracts me to magic realism, to that feeling that reality and fantasy might be a bit more tangled than we think.
What is your writing process like?
On a day-to-day basis, I write in the mornings and early afternoons after dropping my kids to school. Two days a week my parents-in-law take the kids after school, so I can write all day. I write from home, in my little office in the box room. I try to remember to take breaks – make a cup of tea, pull a couple of tarot cards, do some yoga, read a poem, draw something, stretch out my wrists. I find this a lot easier when I’m editing; I get in so deep when I’m writing a first draft that it’s sometimes hard to remember to breathe. When I’m on deadline I work whenever I can: while the kids nap or watch TV, after they go to bed, jotting down notes on the bus or in the car, recording voice memos when we’re playing in the park. There isn’t really an off mode for first drafts, I find: if I’m not living my story during the telling I know it isn’t working right.
On a book-by-book basis it tends to look a little like this: I write the first draft with no idea where the book is going, I only know the ending when I get to the end, I dive in deep and I surface with something that’s a lot more grit than pearl. And then, over five or six drafts of revision with my amazing editors, it becomes the story I was trying to tell all along.
Moïra Fowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and lives in Dublin with her husband, their young daughters, and their old cat. Moïra’s French half likes red wine and dark books in which everybody dies. Her Irish half likes tea and happy endings. Moïra started a PhD on vampires in young adult fiction before concentrating on writing young adult fiction with no vampires in it whatsoever. She wrote her first novel at the age of eight, when she was told that if she wrote a story about spiders she wouldn’t be afraid of them anymore. Moïra is still afraid of spiders, but has never stopped writing stories. She is the author of The Accident Season and Spellbook of the Lost and Found.
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