We sat down with Sarah Hawley debut author of A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon, to talk about all things magic, mayhem and spice. As well as answering the all-important questions about the writing process and how she does what she does.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a romance novel – my previous projects were fantasy novels but I absolutely adore romance and am an avid reader of both genres. The characters and world evolved alongside each other, though the characters were the priority. I knew I wanted to write a contemporary fantasy romance in a world where magic was in the open and that my heroine should be a witch. The question was who would be the perfect opponent for her, since enemies to lovers is my favorite trope. A demon intent on stealing her soul seemed like the perfect choice for some sexy conflict, and thus Ozroth the Ruthless was born.
Where did you draw your inspiration from?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy and mythology, so I pulled in creatures from many sources, and Wikipedia mythology articles played a large role in populating the world as well. I love searching for mythical creatures and imagining how they’d fit into Glimmer Falls. How do restaurants accommodate people with wings or hooves? What festival events do various species put on? What do sporting leagues look like if centaurs, humans, and werewolves are all involved? While researching I even found some creatures I’d never heard of before, like the oozlefinch!
For the demon lore, I made that up. Since the soul bargain is the essential conflict and there’s no Hell in my book, I needed to figure out why demons needed human souls in the first place. I decided the magic in the souls would give light and life to the demon plane, which fit nicely with Lucifer’s name meaning “light bringer.” Demons have their own lore about the founding of their society long ago, and rather than being a fallen angel, Lucifer is instead the very first soul bargainer.
I also made up the language of magic, which was both complicated and fun. It includes bits and pieces of several world languages, and it’s an agglutinating language like Turkish (I used to be an archaeologist and worked in Turkey), though I’m not enough of a linguist to make up more than a few phrases. Since magic is such a powerful advantage for a person to have, it made sense that performing it would need to be difficult–thus the mixture of physical ritual, intention, and a very complicated, ever-changing language.
The location was part inspired by Western Washington state in the general area where Glimmer Falls would exist, but I drew inspiration from places I’ve visited before (like the Sol Duc hot springs and the gorgeous greenery of the Olympic National Forest) and then created the magical small town of my dreams.
What was one of your favourite scenes to write?
I really enjoyed writing the hot springs scene! It was a chance to build the chemistry and sexual tension between Oz and Mariel while also exploring the natural world around Glimmer Falls that means so much to Mariel. Envisioning the flowers, the fire salamander, and the cute little hot springs snake made me smile, and it was a delight to imagine Oz struggling first with how CPR works and then with a literal snake in his pants.
How important is representation in your books??
Very important! Our world is diverse, and it’s essential to put that on the page. In addition to being full of many different mythological creatures, Glimmer Falls celebrates people of different races, cultures, neurodivergence, gender identities, and sexual orientations, and they all contribute to the vibrancy and joy of the town.
Is there anyone you would fancast as Ozroth or Mariel?
I’m terrible at fancasting, but Oz was loosely based on Jon Bernthal with Adam Driver’s hair, and Mariel resembles a plus-sized Emmy Rossum. I’d love to hear who readers envision as the characters!
Would you make a bargain with a demon?
If it meant losing my emotions and my (hypothetical) magic, no. Not unless it was fate-of-the-world level stakes.
If you could have any magical power/ability what would you choose?
Oooh that’s a tough one! I would definitely be interested in summoning a sexy demon to clean my apartment for me, but I think the most valuable skill would be teleportation. I love traveling, and the idea of being able to snap my fingers and show up anywhere in the world is a tempting one. My first trip would be to the Gollancz offices to say hello to my wonderful publishing team!
What are the star signs for Mariel, Ozroth, Themmie, Calladia?
- I am not a Zodiac expert so I needed some help on this one!
- Mariel: Aquarius
- Ozroth: Virgo
- Calladia: Aries
- Themmie: Leo
Can you tell us more about the next book in 3 words and 3 emojis
Explosive, Snarky, Steamy | 💪 💥 🔥 (bonus hot springs emoji? ♨️)
Q&A conducted by Corrine Jean-Jaques and Trina Rowland
Sarah Hawley is an author of romance and fantasy novels. She co-hosts the Wicked Wallflowers Club podcast about romance fiction, which was featured on Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List.” When not dreaming up whimsical love stories, she can be found reading, dancing, or cuddling her two cats. A WITCH’S GUIDE TO FAKE-DATING A DEMON is her debut romcom.