I’m super blessed to be able to read a lot of the books I’m excited for as ARCs, but These Witches Don’t Burn is one of those titles that I did not get to read as an ARC, but you bet I’m picking up next month!
I’m so so ready. I’ve been ready for so many months and I just want to SCREAM about how excited I am about this concept and the magic and the romance and the mystery.
From queer witches to Blood Witch magic to cute romances, These Witches Don’t Burn promises so much goodness, and I’m extraordinarily excited to start reading!
So, it makes me so happy to have the wonderful Isabel Sterling on my blog today, in this interview about her debut, These Witches Don’t Burn! Plus, stay tuned for an ernationalintay iveawaygay (yes the gay was intentional lmao)!
Hi Isabel! I’m very excited to chat about your debut, These Witches Don’t Burn, today! First, can you tell us a little bit about Hannah, her magic, and some of the spiciness going on with her love life?
Hi Vicky! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Hannah Walsh is a 17-year-old Elemental Witch who lives in modern-day Salem, MA. Her magic allows her to manipulate the four elements, but she has to keep it all strictly secret or risk some serious consequences. We first meet her at the end of junior year, fresh off a break-up with her first girlfriend. Her ex is also an Elemental (in the same coven!) and isn’t quite ready to let Hannah go, which makes things…complicated.
I love the sound of modern (queer!) witches, and was so excited to hear that These Witches Don’t Burn features elemental magic (fire, earth, water, and air), which the protagonist Hannah has, and mysterious dark magic from Blood Witches. What made you choose these types of magic as opposed to other magic types portrayed in fantasy?
Great question! There are three different kinds of witches in These Witches Don’t Burn: Elemental Witches, Blood Witches, and Caster Witches. The Elementals come from my love of Avatar: The Last Airbender and other elemental-based systems. Elemental magic is always my first instinct when I create magic systems. The Caster Witches are big into potions, which probably stems from my childhood, where I spent a large portion of my mandatory “outdoor time” mixing up leaves, dirt, and twigs to make my own magic brews. Finally, the Blood Witches probably stem from my love of vampire stories. Though the witches don’t drink blood, there’s something so unnerving about someone having control over your blood and body.
One of the things I’m so excited to read about is the spicy romance dynamics! Hannah has to work with her ex-girlfriend to figure out what’s going on with the blood ritual, while also falling for Morgan, a cute new girl in town. When writing These Witches Don’t Burn, were the romance dynamics set like this since the first draft, or did they evolve during revisions?
Although a lot of the depth and nuance developed over time, Hannah and Veronica were always contentious exes. When I was in college, an ex-boyfriend ended up taking the same dance class as me and it was awkward as you imagine to be in the same class with someone I never wanted to see again. In drafting TWDB, I wanted to take a look at what it feels like when your ex is continually tossed back into your space, although in Hannah’s case, there are some lingering feelings. In mine, not so much.
Conversely, Hannah’s new crush, Morgan, didn’t exist at all in the first draft! It wasn’t until I met my now-wife that I decided to add a new girl to Hannah’s story. Though Morgan is definitely not my wife, I pulled some details (like the red hair, passion for dance, and Minnesota roots) when crafting her character.
Salem, Massachusetts is the topic of a lot of popular culture (my personal favorite would be an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where they went on a field trip there)–was there anything specific that influenced you to set These Witches Don’t Burn here? The title itself references the historical act of burning witches at the stake, so whether it was the history or something else, what made you choose Salem?
I’ve been fascinated by Salem since middle school, which only grew in high school when we read The Crucible. I was fortunate enough to visit Salem between drafting and revising the novel, and that really helped flesh out the story and setting.
Finally, what books do you think lovers of These Witches Don’t Burn enjoy? As in, “If you liked ____, you’ll love These Witches Don’t Burn!” I personally feel a darker type of Undead Girl Gang vibes from your debut, which makes me really excited!
Oh, I loved Undead Girl Gang! There’s definitely a dark vibe to parts of TWDB, so that’s a great comparison. There are also light, fluffy, flirting parts, too, so I think fans of the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins will also enjoy TWDB.
me, hears that Undead Girl Gang is a good comp: EXCITEMENT LEVELS THROUGH THE ROOF
I’m just so excited to read this. Also, to get my stickers from the preorder incentive in the mail. (my preciousssss)
(I also really enjoyed hearing about the romance inspiration for Isabel on Hannah’s romance arcs! That was so interesting to hear!)
SO DON’T FORGET TO LET ISABEL KNOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA IF YOU ENJOYED THIS! You can find her social links below!
Content Warnings: relationship violence (emotional), gaslighting, gun violence, (off page) animal death, and arson/loss of home to fire
More About the Book
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Razorbill
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
More About the Author
Isabel Sterling (Author of These Witches Don’t Burn) | Goodreads Isabel Sterling has been dreaming up new worlds since childhood, but she didn’t commit any of them to paper until after college. When she’s not writing about magic and murder, Isabel can be found lost in a good book, binge-watching her favorite shows, or swimming in the lake. She lives in central NY with her wife and their brood of furry children: cats Oliver and December and a mischievous puppy named Lily.
No need to bring out your crystals, potions, or magic, because a giveaway is right here! (And I’m so jealous of everyone who can enter!)
One lucky winner will receive a signed hardcover of These Witches Don’t Burn! Just use the Rafflecopter button below to be taken to the giveaway, and you can also gain extra entries on Twitter!
Good luck! Also, if you happen to buy the book or request it from your library before June 4th, you can get an exclusive set of those cute stickers above by submitting your info to this form!
This giveaway (and the library/purchase incentive) is open internationally! And they both end on midnight June 4th!