Freddie Kölsch on her YA debut, Now, Conjurers

With a 90s setting, Freddie Kölsch's YA debut has some nostalgia-inducing references, a found family that will warm your heart, and the best spooky vibes.


 Readers who love All Our Hidden Gifts  by Caroline O’Donoghue would love Now, Conjurers — with a 90s setting, Freddie Kölsch’s YA debut has some nostalgia-inducing references, a found family that will warm your heart, and the best spooky vibes. To celebrate the publication of Now, Conjurers, we are honoured to have an interview with Freddie Kölsch.

Congratulations on your debut! Have you always known Now, Conjurers is your first story to tell?

 I’m an extreme write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, so when I sat down to write Now, Conjurers, all I had in mind was telling a story à la Twin Peaks where a character who’s dead from the very first moment becomes more and more important to the audience over the course of the story. And making my wife cry by the end, which is a personal goal I set for myself with all my writing (she’s a tough egg to crack).

Now, Conjurers is a super cool title. How did you come up with that?

Oh man, I’m actually awful with titles. In the querying stage I was calling the manuscript His Strong Enchantments Failing, but after I signed with my agents, they gently informed me that the MS would likely require a name change because people would open it “expecting a book about a wizard”. So we came up with a list of potential new titles before it went out on submission.

I threw Now, Conjurers on there because it’s a phrase that starts with the letter N, which is actually important to the story, and it also pops up in a few plot-critical moments…but the real reason I added that title is because I love the old Bette Davis melodrama Now, Voyager, which has nothing at all to do with my book.

The Coven members have symbols representing themselves. Which symbol would you pick if you were to join the Coven?

So the UK publishing team at Electric Monkey sent out personalized ARC mailers that had stickers with one of the symbols of the North Coven kids and the name of the recipient on the box. They sent me one with the Voice symbol, which I thought was really clever. So I guess I would be symbolized by a mouth.

 The 90s setting meant many references that us older folks adore. How did you pick which ones to include in Now, Conjurers so the younger readers would not get confused?

You know, I didn’t think about it. I just thought of things I’d liked and my friends liked, or the things that the cool slightly-older kids were into at the time. I figured that interested teens could Google the stuff they found intriguing, and a lot of it is mainstream enough that they’re likely going to be familiar with it even without looking it up.

Love the aspect of the queer found family. Why do you think it’s so important to include these normal but important moments in a fantasy novel? 

There’s a podcast called Just King Things where the hosts are doing a read of the entire body of Stephen King’s work. And they keep referring to certain works of King’s as “bourgeoisie novels with horror”. I think that’s true, and while it does lend a kind of mundanity to the stories, it also makes the genre elements so much more effective.

I’m not looking to directly emulate Uncle Steve, but it would be fair to describe my books as “queer YA novels with horror”. And found family is a very real part of being a queer teen. When society or our families are unable to accept our innate (and lovely) differences, we have each other. I’m still best friends with the same guy I was best friends with in high school. My wife was my high school sweetheart. These bonds, they’re just as enduring as the bonds of blood. Which is more beautiful, I think, than it is sad.

Now, Conjurers is out now (Electric Monkey).

Buy Now on Amazon

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