Thursday, May 14, 2015

Showcase: Witchcraft Couture by Katarina West


Oscar Pellegrini is a talented fashion designer with a deadly enemy: his own critical mind. He destroys much of what he designs and has been drifting for years, gradually retreating from the fashion business he loves but holding on to his dreams of success.

A chance meeting with a former girlfriend triggers a creative crisis so deep that Oscar escapes to Russia, where he drinks and despairs like never before. Just when he thinks he has lost everything he discovers a magical machine that turns ordinary outfits into irresistible sartorial triumphs. Oscar takes the machine back to Italy – and before he knows it, he has become famous for his designs, and celebrities and socialites are fighting to be first to wear his gorgeous garments.

But the happily-ever-after ending for the fashion messiah turns into a nightmare when his dresses acquire a life of their own, gaining energy and evil as time goes on. Haunted by his creations, a dark secret he is no longer able to hide, Oscar finds himself fighting for his life and sanity, and searching for the answer to a question he never knew existed.

Is there such a thing as stolen genius, and if there is, can it turn against the very person who stole it?
Katarina West

Katarina West is a novelist, journalist and the author of Witchcraft Couture, a fantasy novel about a fashion designer who becomes an overnight success thanks to magic.

She was born in Finland, has studied in London and Florence – where she completed a doctorate in political science and published a book based on it – and now lives in an old, isolated farmhouse in Chianti with her husband and son, and a German ghost. (Yes, you might hear some German murmured on a moonlit November’s night…)

Katarina is currently working on a new novel – and, writing and country life permitting, tries to read anything and everything well-written that comes into her hands.

What inspires your writing?
Fiction, non-fiction, films and exhibitions, especially art exhibitions. At times newspaper articles, weird stories you read. Places I’ve never been, especially those with history, like castles, villas, monasteries, churches… Here in Italy there are just so many of them! Landscapes and nature. Plus, idleness inspires me. That lazy Sunday time when nothing happens and you don’t have to go anywhere. That’s when ideas come.

What is your favorite thing about being an writer?
The joy of creating a world of your own.

What is the toughest part of being an writer?
Your novel never leaves you at some level. Especially when there are problems, it’s hard to switch off and stop thinking about your characters. The sooner you learn how to balance between the real world and the fictional world, the better.

If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
An aid worker in one the world’s far too many refugee camps. I have a doctorate in humanitarian studies and was already looking for a job in one of the big multinational NGOs when Life decided differently, and I started to write full-time.

What would the story of your life be entitled?
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. That’s what you need, to finish a novel!

What is your favorite book of all time?
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. I discovered it when I was about sixteen, and it was something I had never read before. Afterwards I’ve always sought that same earthquake-like reading experience, but for some reason no other book has ever had the same effect on me – not even Dostoyevsky’s more famous novels.

Which character from ANY book are you most like?
The fictional characters I love are often really messed-up people – I don’t know if I would want to hang around with them in real life, and I certainly hope I don’t resemble them!

What character from all of your book are you most like?
I think there’s a little bit of me in most of my characters. For instance, Oscar, the protagonist of Witchcraft Couture, suffers from creative blocks, and I can relate to that, because I have suffered from writer’s blocks.

Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
One of those many classics that have been on my TBR list for years and years, but I never manage to read. Or the concise history of Italy, a brick that has stood in my study for ten years now. Untouched.

What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?
A hundred years is such a long time, isn’t it? If I have learned anything at all, it’s the fact that you should live in the present, and focus on what your loved ones think about you, right now.

What is your favorite season?
Spring, definitely.

What inspired your book cover?  
There’s an old 1950s fashion shoot on the cover of Witchcraft Couture, and I was so thrilled and honoured to have that picture on the cover. Because it just happened that the model was wearing a Roberto Capucci evening gown, and Roberto Capucci is one of my fashion idols. I read about his work while writing this novel, and it made a great impact on me.

Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
So Witchcraft Couture tells the story of a fashion designer who finds a magical machine looking like a fridge, right? It just so happens that – at least here in Italy – people at times leave television sets and old kitchen appliances like small fridges close to refuse containers. (There’s a place to leave them, but nobody bothers, really.) Since the publication of my novel my friends have contacted me a few times, saying that they’ve spotted an old fridge lying in some forgotten corner of some forgotten street, and could that be my magic machine; could it be that is has come alive? Obviously it’s a joke, but it feels weird. Like your own creation coming to haunt you.

Are you working on something new?
Yes, it’s called Absolute Truth, for Beginners, and it comes out next autumn. It tells the story of a twenty-something woman, Elisa, who falls in love with a world-famous scientist.

Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

Thanks for sharing these questions and answers with me! And if you’re here, it means that you love books. So keep reading, keep searching, and keep asking questions. Don’t stop looking for your perfect story, the one that will touch your heart – and never, ever stop journeying in that wonderful world of stories and imagination. Because it doesn’t cost a penny, and there’s no limit on how far you can go.

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