Blog Tour & Giveaway: Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer was released last week and we are thrilled to be a part of the blog tour. Check out our guest post with the author and be sure to enter the tour-wide giveaway below!
Witches of Ash and Ruinby E. Latimer
on March 3, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, GLBTQIA+
Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Book Depository
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer's motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don't stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that's impossible to put down.
Dayna has a lot going on, which she manages alongside somatic OCD. What are some internal and external protective factors that help her manage everything she’s going through?
I’ll start by going over what Somatic OCD is real quick, because I know not many people know the subtype. OCD can be a lot more than just cleaning or counting, there are many different types that are lesser known because media only really depicts one or two kinds, mostly handwashing or organizing compulsions.
Somatic OCD basically means an obsession with automatic bodily process: blinking, breathing, swallowing, that type of thing. It can be a fear and obsession that those things are not happening “correctly” or an obsession or fear that you will never stop noticing it (yes, we know it’s not logical, but welcome to having OCD).
In Witches of Ash and Ruin I really wanted to touch on mental health in a couple of different ways. I wanted to approach it as a part of a larger story, not something that would take over the story, or became the main focus. We have lots of contemporary books about mental health at this point, which I think is fantastic, but as someone who grew up reading loads of fantasy, I never got to see many depictions of mental illness in my books, and certainly not any healthy or helpful depictions.
If there was something in genre fiction, it was usually used as a plot point or twist, and it was almost sure to be incredibly offensive. Hollywood still really suffers from this, “let’s use it as a plot point for the crazy serial killer: ta da!” issue.
So I wanted this to be part of the genre fiction I write, as a part of the character, and not some neat trick of the plot or startling revelation. I wanted realistic depictions of how mental illness can affect people, how damaging it can be. But also, how it is possible to learn to cope with it.
In the beginning of the book, Dayna attempts to use CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) to control her OCD. She discusses this with Meiner in the book, and the fact that it isn’t working very well for her. I wanted to touch on the stigma of medication, and the fact that some cognitive behaviour therapy, though helpful for many people, doesn’t fully work for others. I also wanted to go over the fact that there is no “wrong” way to do mental health if you find what works for you.
It was important to me to have more than one character dealing with this kind of thing in the book, to both emphasize how normal this is, and also to provide more than one point of view about things. Dayna is completely freaked out about medication and Meiner is very casual and fairly open about it.
It isn’t just in the narration either. That was important to me, to have this talked about on the page. There’s this moment where Dayna is essentially having a panic attack in the apple orchard beside the farmhouse, and Meiner comes out to find her, and they talk about their mental health struggles. Talking openly about it is how things change, how we find things that help us, seek out resources and find solutions.
We need to take the discussion around mental health out into the open. It needs to be something we can freely open up to our friends and family about. It needs to be something people can find help for. And I firmly believe that seeing accurate depictions in literature and media can help with this.
Need to talk to someone? Here’s a list of mental health hotlines, many of them national:
Enter to win one copy of Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer – USA only – closes on March 30th.a Rafflecopter giveaway