Friday, January 15, 2021

Bait and Witch - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Angela M. Sanders to Cozy Up with Kathy today. Angela writes the Witch Way Librarian Mystery series. BAIT AND WITCH is the first book in the series and was released December 29. 2020.

Kathy: Witness to corruption, librarian Josie Way moves to Oregon to await giving her testimony. Instead of lying low in her new home, however, she finds herself fighting to save her new library. Have you ever been caught up with a cause?

AMS: I’m always getting myself into trouble by speaking out! For a while, I was a professional at it by working for a congressional investigative agency, mostly on environmental and natural resource investigations. These days, I support animal shelters and spaying and neutering stray cats.

Kathy: I love Victorian homes and would adore having my library housed in one. Do you enjoy architecturally interesting libraries? Is Josie's new library based on a real one or is it your dream library?

AMS: I love old buildings, too, and am mesmerized by elaborate moldings, unusual light fixtures, and rooms that seem to have no purpose. There’s not much I like more than standing in an old house and imagining the lives that first occupied it—their clothing, family dinners, where they put the Christmas tree, and things like that.

Josie’s library, from cupola and tower to ground floor atrium, is based on a floor plan from a book of Victorian architectural drawings I found at Goodwill. I have a stack of books like that and love to leaf through them and imagine the buildings in their day.

Kathy: In BAIT AND WITCH Josie discovers she's descended from a long line of witches and that she has powers. I always wished that I could be like Samantha Stevens and clean my house with a twitch of my nose. What type of magical powers would you like to have?

AMS: I agree! I’d love to have my house clean and vacuum itself while I slept. That would be dreamy. I’d also like to be able to dispel some sort of “kindness gas” with my fingers. I’d wave my hands, and suddenly egos would drop away, and people would act compassionately toward each other. Oh! And I’d like to be able to talk to animals.

Kathy: There are witches and then there are witches. Do the witches in your first Witch Way Librarian Mystery follow a Wiccan or other traditional path or is the witchcraft your own brand created solely for this fictional world?

AMS: Josie practices folk magic. In her family, witches have both an affinity for a certain energy source for magic—Josie’s is books, and her grandmother’s was her garden, for instance—as well as a particular proclivity or skill. Josie is a truth teller and must see justice done. Her grandmother and two sisters are healers, and her mother sees the future.

Josie doesn’t follow the Wiccan traditions of casting circles, keeping an altar with particular altar tools, and celebrating traditional Wiccan holidays, for example. She does, however, pay attention to the moon’s cycles, and she senses the energy in nature, even if she doesn’t draw magic from it. For the novels, I’ve consulted with a local priestess about curses and land spirits, and I’ve done a fair amount of research into Scottish folk magic.

Kathy: Josie gets help from a spoiled alley cat. I have six cats at home who "help" me in various ways. One of whom may be a familiar. Do you have any felines?

AMS: I’m a longtime cat mama and currently have two cats: a chunky male tabby, Squeaky; and a sweet little black girl, Bitsy la Mouche. Despite being younger and smaller, Bitsy is the brains of the operation. Squeaky, named for his signature squeaking noises, specializes in lap warming and purring louder than a speedboat’s engine.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AMS: I love humor, quirky characters, and puzzles, and I’m not a fan of gore for gore’s sake. I believe small towns hold all the drama and mystery of the world as a whole. Therefore, for me, writing light mystery, including cozies, was a no brainer.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AMS: For fiction, I write light mystery, and I’ve written two capers, which are “mystery adjacent” in my mind. I also write magazine articles, mostly on food and perfume, and I specialize in writing profiles.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AMS: As Alice Hoffman wrote, “Books are the only real magic.” (I love that quote.) In the Witch Way Librarian cozies, Josie Way’s magic comes from the energy and emotion that authors and readers have invested in books. In BAIT AND WITCH, Josie discovers that not only is she descended from a long line of witches, she’s an especially powerful witch with a bent for truth telling. It’s this quality that propels her to solve a murder and save the library.

I also write the Joanna Hayworth Vintage Clothing mysteries featuring a vintage clothing store owner in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

AMS: I have a soft spot for Roz, the assistant librarian. She’s a glass-half-empty sort of gal, but despite her complaining, she’s tenderhearted. She also harbors a couple of big secrets, which I won’t give away here. I relate to her fatalistic view of life, and, sadly, her hot flashes.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

AMS: Just my imagination! As I created Wilfred, Oregon, and the library and townspeople, I continued to ask myself, “What would be the most fun?” A library in a Victorian mansion? Fun. A trailer park psychic with a penchant for tattered kimonos and boxed wine? Fun. The ability to recommend books you’ve never even heard of, yet know they’re the perfect books for a library patron? Fun.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AMS: For me, storytelling comprises both the teller and the listener. Although when I write it’s just me and my keyboard (well, and a couple of cats who find their way to my desk and lap), the reader is always in my mind. I sought an agent and a publisher as a way to connect to readers.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

AMS: I’d invite MFK Fisher for her love of food and passion for daily life. I’d also have to invite Helen McCloy, a mystery author popular in her time but almost forgotten today. I adore her work. She studied in Paris, and she and MFK Fisher would have lots to talk about. Since the theme is turning French, why not invite Sylvia Beach, who owned a famous American bookstore in Paris in the 1920s? She wasn’t a writer, but James Joyce’s Ulysses couldn’t have been published without her, and Ernest Hemingway depended on her nurturing and generosity. Finally, we’ll round out the dinner table with Dolly Parton, because who wouldn’t want Dolly Parton at her dream dinner? (Dolly just released MY LIFE IN LYRICS, so she counts as a writer.)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AMS: I always have loads of books going at a time. I just finished Anthony Horowitz’s MOONFLOWER MURDERS and Maria DiRico’s HERE COMES THE BODY and am on to THE SEVILLE COMMUNION by Arturo Perez-Reverte and COUNT ON THE SAINT by Lesley Charteris (I love vintage crime novels).

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

AMS: I’m a pro-level thrifter and adore ravaging thrift stores and Goodwills for etched cocktail glasses, vintage linens and dresses, and old books. I also have an interest in perfume, and I’ve written for the popular perfume blog Now Smell This for 15 years and for NEZ, a French perfume magazine.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

AMS: Ginger root, lemon, Parmesan cheese, and coffee beans.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

AMS: I’m working on the third book in the Witch Way Librarian series right now. (SEVEN _YEAR WITCH comes out in September 2021, and WITCH AND FAMOUS will follow that one.) I’m really enjoying this series and will happily write it as long as the publisher wants me to!

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

AMS: Hands down, it’s the readers. I love knowing that my stories have found life in someone else’s imagination.



BAIT AND WITCH by Angela M. Sanders
The First Witch Way Librarian Mystery

When her co-worker disappears after they blow the whistle on government corruption, librarian Josie Way decides to run, at least until after the trial. Taking a job as head librarian in the tiny out of the way town of Wilfred, Oregon, Josie feels as if she's found home. Her senses have come alive and the unique library housed in a Victorian Manor seems to welcome her. Even the books call to her. Before she can get settled, Josie learns that the library is on the chopping block as the majority of the trustees want to sell and have a retreat center built in its place. Then she finds a dead body! Certain that the body is someone sent to silence her, Josie wonders if she can save both the library and herself!

I absolutely loved this book! A complicated mystery with several subplots, BAIT AND WITCH stands apart from other cozy mysteries in that our protagonist isn't trying to solve a murder or prove someone's innocence. She just wants to survive and save the town's library. The story is filled with twists and turns and lots of surprises keeping readers on their toes.

The First Witch Way Librarian Mystery gives us lots of unique complicated characters. Their nuances, their quirks, and their backstories provide a rich landscape that the author cultivates brilliantly. Almost everyone seems to have a secret agenda and even the books and portraits in the library have character and express emotion.

I love the way the magick reveals itself and can't wait for Josie to fully accept and explore her abilities. She had me quite put out with her at one point as I shouted at her to use her magick! Of course, I adore Rodney and look forward to seeing more of him.

BAIT AND WITCH gives a powerhouse start to a new series. I was completely engrossed and enchanted and can't wait to return to Wilfred, Oregon.


 Bait and Witch - A Witch Way Librarian Mystery by Angela M. Sanders

About Bait and Witch

Bait and Witch - A Witch Way Librarian Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (December 29, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages

Librarian Josie Way moved to small-town Oregon to lay low. Instead, thanks to newfound magic abilities—and a killer on the loose—she’s leapt out of the frying pan and into a cauldron of trouble . . .

Josie Way loved working among the Library of Congress’s leather-scented stacks—until she uncovered corruption and made herself a target. As Wilfred, Oregon’s new librarian, Josie can stay undercover until the case goes to court. But life in this little town isn’t as subdued as she expected. The library, housed in a a Victorian mansion, is slated to be bulldozed. Still digesting the news that her safe haven is about to become scrap lumber, Josie discovers a body in the woods . . .

Almost as shocking, Josie learns that she’s descended from a long line of witches—and her powers have suddenly sprung to life. With help from a spoiled alley cat who just may be her familiar, Josie’s thumbing through a catalog of suspects, hoping she can conjure a way to save her library—and her life . . .


About Angela M. Sanders

Angela M. Sanders writes the Amazon bestselling Joanna Hayworth Vintage Clothing Mysteries and The Booster Club Capers. Under the pen name Clover Tate, she’s the author of the Kite Shop Mysteries (Berkley), which Romantic Times praised for their “well written wit and intrigue.” Angela’s articles on food, personalities, and perfume have appeared in a variety of magazines, and her monthly newsletters have nearly 2,000 subscribers. She interacts with readers on Facebook and Instagram and is a prominent blogger for Now Smell This, which garners 1.5 million monthly page views. Angela has two cats—one of whom is black of course—a witch’s freckle in her left eye and learned to read tarot cards from a pagan priestess.

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  1. Like the book cover. Book looks and sound like a great read. Excerpt intrigues me. Would love to read and review this book in print format as well as read and review the rest of the author's other books.
    Hope I Win.

  2. Sounds like an exciting read.