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Ciannon Smart Books In Order

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Publication Order of Witches Steeped in Gold Books

Witches Steeped in Gold (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ciannon Smart is young adult, fantasy, and literary fiction author best known for her debut novel “Witches Steeped in Gold.” The author, who has Jamaican heritage, was brought up in a small town of South East England. She grew up as the only daughter in a house filled with energetic males. As such, she had very few people to talk to and from a very young age she spent much of her time reading. Smart had a preference for the anarchy she found in the stories she loved to read rather than real life happenings. She loves to read about unpredictable, wily and wilful villains as the heroines in her young adult works. When she is not writing, the author can be found painting, reading or listening to music.

The seed for her debut novel “Witches Steeped in Gold” when she went on a family holiday in Jamaica. It was her second trip to Jamaica as a child and the first time she ever visited Rose Hall. During this time, she was obsessed with all things eldritch and creepy. Growing up, she loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch and used to watch Goosebumps and all manner of horor and as such visiting Rose Hall was an awesome experience. Ciannon Smart spent most of her childhood in England in a town where not much was of interest to her. Learning about black witches was thus an amazing experience that she got her parents to buy her the novel on which Rose Hall the legend of the witch is based on. Nonetheless, she never considered herself a writer or storyteller until she was about sixteen years old. As an eleven year old, she went on holiday and it was at that time that she started thinking she could write. But it was not until she read the novel “Ember in the Ashes” which had a black protagonist that she determined that she was going to become an author.

As such, what nurtured Ciannon Smart’s love for storytelling was the many years she spent reading fantasy and the increasing desire to write herself as the lead in a story. She had read a ton of fantasies over the years and wanted to write her own. Reading about black witches during that trip to Rose Hall was just what she needed. She was introduced to a rich world with light and darkness, turns and twists, and a morally ambiguous protagonist. It took her a long time to realize that she was a writer as she never thought she could immerse herself in the writing of a completely new world. She did not believe she had enough imagination or the wherewithal to write about her lead as a black person who did not fit the usual magical negro tropes. When she went to university, she got to live with a variety of black communities which initially was a huge culture shock. She grew up with questions about where she came from and who she was and that also played a role in how she wrote her story as she wanted to connect with her roots.

When she was ready, Ciannon Smart sat down with Davina Andrew Lynch, the agent she met at a writer’s festival. Davina saw great potential in her idea but wanted to change the plot and a lot of other things. Her first draft contained an Obeah witch living in a fantasy Western inspired world. When her agent challenged her, she decided to set her story in a Jamaican inspired setting, which meant that she had to make up everything as there was hardly anything she could refer to. During this time, she read “Children of Blood and Bone” on the #Pitchwars website. She also read interviews that the author gave and liked the new and brave perspectives that Tomi took and thought why not do it too.

The idea for her story developed from her picturing the lead Ira in prison. She was fighting to get revenge for her family which meant she had to get out even as she had to hide her identity from everyone. After reading samples on #Pitchwars, she had become conscious of the areas she was deficient in and was smarter about storytelling in general. She also got her editor Alice at Harperteen to work with her to make her more comfortable and brave. Having someone in her corner cheering her on allowed her to take risks but it took a long time to write something that she was confident about sharing with the world. She eventually made “Witches Steeped in Gold” into a knife in-heart twisty story. She never did have to perform a lot of research given that much of the inspiration for the story was from the events and experiences of her childhood. She had learned a lot about the magic system in Jamaica and how much of it was still deemed taboo. It had been outlawed centuries earlier and not much had changed since then. Many people were reticent about discussing the subject and since warnings were still being issued, the tension that practitioners experienced felt very real.

“Witches Steeped in Gold” by Ciannon Smart is the story of Jazmyne Cariot and Judair the queen mother who rules with an iron fist. Jazmyne decides to become a member of the rebellion looking to assassinate the queen but fears that she does not have the expertise or experience to lead such a quest. Meanwhile, Ira who has been incarcerated in a heavily guarded prison is planning to escape and foment an uprising alongside her fellow prisoners. However, her real goal is to exact revenge on the royal family. When the two witches learn that they have shared goals, they are more than happy to come to an understanding and form a previously unthinkable alliance. Through working together, they increase their chances of success though they need to work hard not to work at cross purposes. The novel is a fascinating story that unfolds in a Jmaican island backdrop full of folklore, history and culture.

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