LSQ: Let’s start with the obvious: Mildred is awesome! What was your inspiration behind her character?
Regina: I love Mildred, too! She’s every older woman in our lives who’s incredibly gifted and generous with those gifts. We all know them, don’t we?
LSQ: The trial scene holds tension, as it could lead to Mildred’s demise, but there’s also an element of humor brought by the young Councilman that makes it seem a bit farcical. What were your thoughts when writing this scene?
Regina: I thought there’s always someone—no matter what the situation—who thinks it’s all about him. And it’s usually “him.” Head-smacking stupid. But, invariably, it becomes part of whatever’s happening.
LSQ: The story opens in first person perspective, but switches to third person for the rest of the story. Is there a perspective you prefer, or one you find has particular benefits over the other?
Regina: I love including many perspectives in a story. All perspectives have particular benefits, and switching from one to another enriches a story. I love reading stories with different perspectives. Kate Atkinson (Life After Life) is a genius at multiple perspectives. She’s one of my favorite writers.
LSQ: The setting seems to be a women-focused world, yet Agnes easily betrays Mildred. Do you think the world of this story, and our own world, can ever truly achieve solidarity among women?
Regina: The setting is a very small woman-focused community in a man-focused world. We’ve got plenty of those communities. And none is perfect, because people aren’t perfect. I wouldn’t say Agnes “easily” betrays Mildred. Agnes—and everyone else—has known for a long time that she’s far below Mildred in magical abilities. I imagine this is a continual gall to Agnes. And then when Agnes thinks she sees evidence of Mildred cheating, it’s too much for her. She makes her accusation. But when Agnes is convinced she’s been mistaken, she withdraws the charge of cheating, and she’s contrite. Still, it didn’t have to be this way. If Agnes had asked Mildred for help with her magic, Mildred, being Mildred, would have supported and taught her beautifully. But Agnes doesn’t ask for help. She just stews by herself and bubbles over with spite. So the potential for solidarity is there, but Agnes can’t reach out and be part of it. Maybe her experience of the trial will change her for the better.
LSQ: Are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about your other projects?
Regina: I’m working on a novel featuring a young woman in the American West in the late nineteenth century. She’s so tough, Billy the Kid is her side-kick.