Susie Moloney (Photo Richard Wagner)
Oh, I wanted to be a witch.
I wanted to wiggle my nose, blink my eyes, wave a stick, stare impudently and with malice at something until it was blasted from my sight. I wanted to fly on a broom and be invisible and fix things. It was the little girl's version of a superhero. Witches have never been far from my imaginings. My book shelf is full of lore and stories from the witch trials in North America and Europe. Oddly, I hadn't written a line about them until a couple of years ago.
When I first started thinking about what would become THE THIRTEEN, I wasn't thinking about a book at all, but a woman I knew, in her retiring years, who had become quite suddenly very angry. She would rage at animals who crossed her lawn, neighbours who parked too close, the mailman for walking near her flowers. I thought she would make an excellent short story. I envisioned something about madness, likely, and how it would be to slowly go mad in front of your neighbours. And being me, I thought, Hey! What if she was a witch?
It was through writing that story I was reacquainted with my fascination with the suburbs and neighbourhoods in general, which I had previously written about in THE DWELLING and in my earliest novel, BASTION FALLS. It's stunning how much time we spend in our neighbourhoods, with complete strangers, all of whom can hear us through our open windows, all summer long, every bad song sung, every shriek at a partner, every lecture to a teenager. If the wind is right. And at night, it usually is.
There's a Tom Waits song, "What's He Building?" and the lyric goes: "He never waves when he goes by/He's hiding something from/The rest of us." That's the book I wrote. But I made them witches.
Hear Susie Moloney in conversation with Keran Sanders on the Weekend Morning Show, CBC Radio 1, Sunday June 12, 8:40 a.m.