Sisters’ Fate is the third and final book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a series about a set of sisters (who are also witches) who live in an alternate history where the Salem witch trials led to a regime of religious fanaticism that persisted well into the 1800s. (Check out my review of the book here.) Author Jessica Spotswood stopped by our lockers to talk about what inspired the Cahill sisters’ story, her love of veggie nachos and Prosecco, and her fabulous fictional Ocean’s 11. Read the interview below.
THE ACTUAL BOOK-RELATED QUESTIONS
Before beginning the Cahill Witch Chronicles, did you plan the entire trilogy out, or did it grow and change as you wrote?
It grew and changed a lot. In the first draft of Born Wicked, there was no prophecy that one sister would murder another! I had an idea where I wanted the characters to end up, but I didn’t know how I’d get there at all. I only outline a few chapters ahead; I discover so much as I write. I threw out most of my first draft of book 2, Star Cursed, and completely rewrote it—though that heartbreaking ending stayed the same!
What inspired the series? What kind of research did you do, if any, into the history of witches?
The series was inspired by a dream I had in which my sisters and I (I’m the eldest of three girls, like Cate) were fighting over a magical locket from our mom. There’s no magical locket in the books, but I was fascinated by the idea of writing about the complicated mix of love and rivalry among three magical sisters. As for research, I read up on Salem and European witch hunts, but what really stuck with me was the notion that women accused of witchcraft were often outside society in some way—unmarried, poor, eccentric, healers perhaps, or too educated. I wanted to explore the idea of a society that doesn’t respect or value powerful, clever, strong women—and what lengths those women would go to after being oppressed.
All three books—Born Wicked, Star Cursed and Sisters’ Fate—feature strong female characters, but many of them come into their true strength in Sisters’ Fate. Why did the final book lend itself to such character growth?
Thank you! I think the final book pushes everyone to their breaking points and sometimes beyond. There’s a scene where Cate asks Maura what more she could do to her, because she thinks the very worst has already happened. (She’s wrong.) But enduring danger and heartbreak and loss and sisterly betrayal is a crucible of sorts; it enables the girls to find out how strong they really are. They don’t have the luxury of time to crumble and grieve and then heal because there’s more coming at them.
If you could write more about any of the series’ secondary characters, who would you write about?
I’d love to write a story or a novella someday about Rilla, Cate’s roommate, and newspaperman Alistair Merriweather in which Rilla becomes a lady reporter for Merriweather’s paper and gets into scrapes and the two of them fall in love. They kept threatening to overtake every scene they were in; their banter was so much fun to write!
Yes! I knew I sensed something more between those two characters. Gotta love a relationship built on an early sense of animosity!
Although I know the trilogy has come to an end, any thoughts on what the future holds for the characters of the Cahill Witch Chronicles?
I think now they’ll take time to grieve and heal and rebuild their world. Hmm … I don’t want to give away any spoilers about who lives or dies for anyone who hasn’t read the series yet. But I do see Sachi and Rory opening up a fashionable dress shop!
THE YA QUESTIONS
If your real life adolescence was a YA book ... What would you, the main character, be like?
The shy, relentlessly cheerful drama nerd/band geek.
Who is your secret crush?
The guy best friend who asks me for relationship advice about other girls.
What is your number #1 source of angst?
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
When I go off to college in a different state and come out of my shell.
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Keri Russell in her pre-haircut Felicity days.
The actual Jessica
THE SLUMBER PARTY QUESTIONS
What is your secret power?
I have exceptional handwriting.
What is your #1 favorite food?
Veggie nachos with lots of queso.
Heck yes. Queso goes with all the things.
Tell me about your area of expertise.
I have an excellent memory for names and dates. Also, I’m really good at spelling (but terrible at pronouncing things properly!).
If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick?
1. Po from Graceling because he can read minds, and I have a crush on him.
2. Hermione Granger because she’s such a clever, brave witch.
3. Tess Cahill from my series because she’s also a clever, brave witch, and I really want to introduce her and Hermione; I think they would be BFFs. Plus she can see the future.
4. Peeta from Hunger Games because he’s a brilliant strategist, and I have a crush on him, too. Also he could bake us things. Even in a heist, I need cookies.
A woman after our own heart!
5 and 6. Rose and Dimitri from the Vampire Academy series because they both kick ass. They’re our muscle.
7 and 8. June and Day from the Legend series because June’s a brilliant, military-trained strategist and fighter, and Day does all that supercool parkour stuff.
9. Ronan from the Raven Boys series in case we could use a dream thief.
10. Sophronia from the Curtsies & Conspiracies series, because she’s bold and curious and stumbles into answers more often than not.
11. Bitterblue, because she’s so clever at solving puzzles. I’d say Katsa but I’m afraid she’d kill me if she saw the covetous way I look at Po ...
What is your best karaoke song?
“Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel. We sang it at so many cast parties in college!
Tell me something scandalous!
The last night of freshman year in college, the boy I’d had a crush on all year walked me home and kissed me and said all sorts of sweet things. Which was like a movie, right? Except he totally had a girlfriend. And when I saw him again the next fall, they’d gotten MARRIED. And he was a friend of my now-husband’s, so I saw them at parties for YEARS and I felt so, so guilty and awkward about it. Lesson learned!
What is your favorite adult beverage?
What book have you read the most number of times?
Gone with the Wind
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
I really bonded with my Breathless Reads sisters on my first tour: Andrea Cremer, Marie Lu, and Beth Revis. Can we share it four ways?
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
Ooh. I’m probably most like Tess—observant, quiet, bookish—but I’d like to be Rilla.
If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie/or anything you'd bring?
Nachos, Prosecco, and a DVD of Dirty Dancing!
And now: MASH! In which Jessica’s future shall be predicted with absolute accuracy. Jessica made three picks for each category, and we added the fourth. The magic number (chosen by a random number generator) was 4:
M A S H
Po from Graceling
Adrian from Vampire Academy
A Napa Valley winery
A Caribbean beach
# of Kids
Paid in wishes
Paid in ARCs
Paid in veggie nachos
Paid in prosecco
A hipster neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The delightfully artsy Asheville, NC
The French Quarter of New Orleans
An aged black cat
A squish-face pug puppy
A pink bicycle
A Care Bear cloud car
My own two feet
WWII-era motorcycle with a sidecar
Married to Bandicoot Cabbagepatch, a job as an author, AND driver of a Care Bear cloud car? Dang, lady, you’ve got it made. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Sisters’ Fate is available now.