Sangu Mandanna on her bewitching new rom-com, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
"I find that my process (which involves a lot of anguish, a lot of self-doubt, and a lot of tea) is much the same whether I’m writing for children or writing for grown-ups."
Cosy, romantic and perfectly magical, Sangu Mandanna’s debut rom-com, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, is a must read for anyone in need of a comforting, witchy story starring a delightful cast of characters and a heartwarming romance. To celebrate the release of this gorgeous read, we were lucky enough to have the chance to talk to Sangu about all things magic, writing and romance.
Hi Sangu! We’re so excited to be able to chat to you today to celebrate the release of your new witchy romance novel, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, which I recently finished and adored! For readers just hearing about it, what’s one thing you’d like to tell them about it to entice them to pick up a copy?
Thank you, and I’m so pleased to be here! I guess the one thing I might tell a new reader about the book is that it’s Practical Magic meets Mary Poppins meets a grown-up Kiki’s Delivery Service with a diverse cast and a dash of spice.
Could you tell us a little about the inspirations behind the story?
I’ve loved stories with fantasy and magic since I was a little girl, and I was an eager tween when I first discovered my love of romance novels. I think it was inevitable that I would write a book that combined fantasy with romance, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve also discovered a love of stories about found families, outcasts finding a place to belong, and the magic of the everyday. I wanted to write a book with all of these things.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches has the most wonderfully warm and cosy vibes, which is something I have no doubt many readers (including myself) are looking for in their reads right now. Is this a feeling you consciously decided to give the story, or did it come naturally as you wrote?
It was very much a conscious decision. Until that point, I’d written darker, angstier novels with battles and monsters, but in 2020, I needed to lose myself in something magical, cosy and far, far away from the pandemic and the lockdowns and the anxieties of everyday life. Of course, I couldn’t be sure when I was writing the book that the atmosphere I’d created would translate into the same atmosphere for a reader, so it does make me very happy to know that I succeeded!
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Having previously written novels for a YA and MG audience, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is your adult debut. What made you decide to shift to writing for adults with this book and did you find it changed the way in which you wrote at all?
I’ve wanted to write a novel for adults for a long time, but I never had the right idea. When I first started thinking about Irregular Witches, I knew right away that it was the one and I was so excited to dive in! That said, I don’t think that changed the way I wrote the book. I find that my process (which involves a lot of anguish, a lot of self-doubt, and a lot of tea) is much the same whether I’m writing for children or writing for grown-ups.
If you shared Mika’s affinity for potion making, what’s one potion you’d like to brew and what ingredients do you think you’d need for its recipe?
Such a great question! There’s quite a few I can think of, but the one I’d probably like to brew most just for fun would be a tea that could let me fly for a little while. Not high up in the clouds or anything, but just levitate above houses and have a literal spring in my step. And the ingredients I think I’d need would be a pinch of star shavings, a puff of cloud, a couple of lemon balm leaves, a single feather from a dove, and ten drops of peppermint essence.
We all love our witchy reads (how could we not?) but do you have any recommendations for any recent or upcoming titles you’d love to recommend?
Oh, so many! Some of my recent favourites include Ava Reid’s Juniper and Thorn, Genevieve Gornichec’s The Witch’s Heart, Zoraida Córdova’s The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina and Kerri Maniscalo’s Kingdom of the Wicked series.
Finally, for myself and all the readers who’re bound to fall in love with Mika and the residents of Nowhere House, I have to ask: can you see yourself returning to their world for a future sequel or spin off?
Oh, I’d love to revisit Mika and Nowhere House! I don’t have anything planned right now, but I can absolutely see myself coming back to it.
Get your copy of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna here.