Guest Post and Review: Bewitched by Mark Jay Harris

Today I am happy to present Bewitched by Mark Jay Harris.  Mark is taking over the blog today! He’s gonna tell us how he came up with his awesome Young Adult novel, Bewitched.  Be sure to check out my review after Mark’s takeover.  So without any further adieu here is Mark Jay Harris.

First of all, I want to thank Jackie for this chance to blog a bit.

I’m still adjusting to having a book published. I can’t really express how exciting it is! I’m also sort of wandering around like I don’t know what I’m doing. I know how to write, but promoting, blogging, that’s stuff I’m still trying to get a handle on.

Jackie had a great idea, and I think I’ll blog about how I got the idea for BEWITCHED.

Like many people of my…how do I put this…Time period? Generation? Okay, age! there was a 60s television show called “Bewitched.” As a kid I enjoyed this silly little program. When I had kids of my own I thought they’d enjoy it; so, every so often we’d watch some episodes of Bewitched as a family. My kids love the show as well.

Eventually I shared this idea I’d been mulling over with my family. I told them how I thought it was an interesting idea being married to a real witch. Wouldn’t be interesting if someone wrote a story about a guy who gets married to a witch, but doesn’t know she’s a witch until after they get married. And then, instead of it being a comedy where the main character’s in-laws keep ruining his life, what if his in-laws hated him so much they wanted him dead? That could be interesting.

As I started to flesh-out this idea I couldn’t decide where to begin. How old should Darren and Samantha be? How do they meet? What is the historical context of the witches? What should I keep from the old TV show and what should I completely create?

Time passed and I let a lot of these ideas percolate.  Thoughts occurred and I’d play with them. The first thing I decided was that I wanted it to be young adults. Harry Potter was all the rage at this time and Twilight was just beginning to take off in popularity. As I wrote BEWITCHED I had in mind a target audience somewhere in between the groups that would read these two books.

The first chapter I wrote was what is now chapter five. It contained this flash back to the Old Testament where I thought the story should begin. Witches are old and I wanted the story to start there. The next chapter was what is now chapter 3: the basketball game where Darren first sees Samantha. It wasn’t until later that I realized chapter 5 was not your regular young adult fare. Most kids don’t know much about the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, nor do they find it particularly exciting. But the truth of the matter is that there are actual witches in that part of the Bible and what happens, when you think about it, is quite exciting and actually very frightening.

Depending upon who I showed this chapter to I got mixed reviews. Those who knew anything about the Bible thought it was terrific. A great tie-in to add in the story and it mixed well the actual account from the Bible with this piece of fiction I had written. Other people thought it wasn’t necessary and bogged down the story.

I found it too important to leave out, but I also recognized I had to win my readers over first with something more current, and with Darren, who is the main character after all. The first chapter had to really get the reader wondering what was going on so they’d want to finish the story. After they were hooked, I figured they’d trust me with this Biblical flashback and be willing to see where it would take them.

In any case, after rearranging these chapters and completing the book, I sent it to a friend from grades-school I’d run across through Facebook. After my wife, she was the one who most patiently went through the thing and gave me good critical advice. My daughter Genevieve also read through it several times and told me I was great and that BEWITCHED was a good enough to be published. I needed this kind of support because I sent out query after query with no bites.

I had a few people who wanted to know if I could change the title. I think they were too afraid of the connection with the television show and didn’t want to face any legal problems. I then changed the title to SPELLBOUND for a while, which still caught the essence of the story. Later I changed it to THE GRIMOIRE OF MOLOCH, but my wife didn’t really like it very much. She thought it sounded too esoteric. No one knew what a Grimoire was or who Moloch was.

Finally I went back with my original title of BEWITCHED and found Inkspell.  I loved the name of that company so much I wanted to have them publish my book more than any other place I’d run across to date. And when they wrote me back saying they were interested in publishing the book, I had to keep reading the lines in the email over and over again because I wasn’t used to reading words that weren’t “Good luck in your future endeavors.”

Well, I’m afraid I’ve probably droned on too long, and if Jackie decides to cut this down I wouldn’t blame her one little bit. All I can say is fall under the spell of BEWITCHED, (corny, I know, but I kind of like it) you won’t be disappointed.

You can find it out on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. Or just try my site at: www.markjayharrisauthor.com.  I’m working on the second book in The Thaumaturgy, called THE RETURN OF THE FAMILIAR. That title will make a lot more sense after you finish reading BEWITCHED.  In parting, thanks for reading, and be careful who you fall in love with.

Thanks Jackie!!

Bewitched.v1.2Blurb:

Is it love or is it witchcraft? He’ll never find out if he kills her first.

The first time Darren saw Samantha, she was floating above his high school gymnasium during a basketball game, invisible to everyone but him. Next time he sees her, she’s sitting in front of him in class, wowing his friends and causing unexplainable things to happen that only he seems to notice. But things really get strange (and complicated) when his dying grandfather tells him that he is part of an ancient order, the “Pessum Ire,” whose duty is to destroy witches. What does he do now, since he’s almost positive Samantha is a witch…and he’s crushing on her pretty hard?

Review:

Bewitched was an awesome read!  The Young Adult genre has really blown up lately with a lot of paranormal based stories.  Bewitched deftly navigates the paranormal genre.  In Bewitched, we meet Darren.  When we first meet him he is attending the funeral of his older brother.  During the funeral he experiences some weird sightings that only he can see.  It’s a few years later that an incident during a basketball game throws his world for a loop.  He begins to believe the stories his crazy old grandfather had been telling since he was young.  As Darren delves more into his new life and the new world in front of him he finds it harder and harder to do what is asked of him while trying to figure out how he plays in a prophesy of his enemies.  While reading Bewitched you will keep asking yourself how will Darren choose his path and how will his choice effect those he cares about.

Mark Harris does a great job with this book.  This being the first book in his series he does a phenomenal job introducing his characters and developing the world that they live in.  The story is well conceived and developed.  Darren and Samantha are great characters that you really develop an interest in.  They alone could drive you to want to read more of this great story, but it is also the peripheral characters like Mike, Serena, Andrea and Atacus that bring comic relief and more insight into a murky undiscovered background.  I would unequivocally recommend this book for all paranormal lovers.  You will get sucked in and get to the end cursing that the next book isn’t out yet so that you can read it.

I’d like to thank Inkspell Publishing for letting me host and review this stop today.  I’d also like to thank Mark Jay Harris for his awesome post and to tell him to hurry up we need more!

MarkJHarris - AuthorAbout the Author:

Mark Harris lives in Smithfield Utah, a small town located in a beautiful valley in Northern Utah. His wife, Shaundale, and he have four terrific children, two girls and two boys and a fifth one due to arrive in November of 2012. Mark has taught English and Special Education and currently works from home teaching English to people from all over the world. Writing has always been his true passion since he was a grade schooler writing about mushrooms. “Bewitched” will be his debut novel. He has two others underway and will soon start on the sequel to “Bewitched,” called “The Return of the Familiar.” He hopes you enjoy his work because he is working on several series geared toward younger audiences.

You can find Mark on: www.markjayharrisauthor.com

Book available on all major outlets: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and The Book Depository

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