When Aleksandra Daniels needs a change of pace after the death of her father, she leaves New York City and moves in with extended family in the small, seaside town of Bellamy Bay. Little does she know, there’s magic afoot! A mysterious death casts a shadow of guilt over Alex’s beloved aunt, and Alex will do whatever it takes to clear the family name. In the course of her investigation, she learns a few interesting facts about her family history, herself, and the hidden secrets of Bellamy Bay. Charming, with just enough bite to keep things interesting, A Spell for Trouble is the perfect blend of small town mystery, magic, and mayhem! I’m so pleased to welcome Esme Addison, author of A Spell for Trouble, to Book Club Babble today.

Tabitha Lord: Sometimes the setting of a novel is so beautifully imagined and integral to the story that it almost feels like its own character. I found that to be the case with A Spell for Trouble. When the protagonist, Aleksandra Daniels, moves from New York City to Bellamy Bay, the quaint, seaside town comes alive in my imagination. Why did you choose this particular type of setting for the story?

Esme Addison: Thank you! I love the sand and the sea and have always wanted to use the beach as a setting for a book. This story with characters descended from mermaids and perceived to be water witches was the perfect fit for this location. I’m from North Carolina, and as a military spouse spent several years on the North Carolina coast between Wilmington and Emerald Isle. I thought this area would be the perfect location for the Enchanted Bay mystery series.

TL: Aleksandra’s aunt and cousin run an apothecary type shop in town featuring healing herbs, specialty teas, handmade soaps, etc. They’ve used their little shop to practice a version of healing magic. How familiar were you with the various tonics, teas, and such you reference in the story? Did this require some research?

EA: I always end up doing research, but I’m personally familiar with herbal remedies. I use them in my personal life, and I have done so for the past 12 years. Every since my middle son was born and was allergic to everything, I was cautious about he foods, medicines and bath and body products I applied to his body – for all of my children really. I began researching these subjects and transitioned our family to a primarily organic diet and began to use natural products whenever possible. Eventually, I began to make my own recipes based on books and trials and error. I found that I found enjoyment and satisfaction in making herbal remedies like cough syrup and ear drops for my children and natural products like counter top cleaners, soaps and bath salts.

TL: As a speculative fiction writer, I talk a lot about world-building. It’s important when we’re crafting a novel to develop an internal logic for our stories that is both fantastical yet believable. And, we have to follow the rules of our magical systems or readers will call us out! Can you talk a little about the magical people in your story, the rules you’ve created for your magic?

EA: Magic is fun, right? But you’re correct, it has to be built on something and I like to make my magic as realistic as possible. I do a lot of research so I can start with facts and then spin it with a little imagination. The main family in A Spell For Trouble is descended from the Mermaid Of Warsaw – a real Polish myth. And while they still have the DNA of a mermaid, they have lost the ability to shape shift from mermaid to full human form based on natural selection. They still have some of the powers associated with mermaids: ability to stay under water for long lengths of time, strong swimming skills, plus they can command any sort of moisture, including water. They are telepathic and have healing powers among others.

TL: Can you share the last few books you’ve read, and why you’ve enjoyed them?

EA: I read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which is a slow burning story about a captivating character in an usual setting. It’s broody and atmospheric and absolutely delivered on the premise and the gorgeous cover; and A Call For Kelp by Bree Baker, the latest installment in one of my favorite cozy mystery series set in the Outer Banks of the NC which is fun and humorous and fast-paced, giving me all the beach vibes and delicious food I love in a beach read.

TL: I suspect, after finishing the story, that you’ll be writing more about Aleksandra, her family, and the Bellamy Bay community. Without spoilers, can you tell us a little about their future adventures?

EA: Sure. Book two publishes next summer – July I think. Alex is settled in the community and planning the local summer mermaid festival along with her cousin Minka and friend Celeste when a murder occurs. When Alex investigates this murder, she surprisingly learns more about her heritage as a mermaid and more about the magical world she lives in.

TL: Thank you so much, Esme! I really enjoyed your story!

Ever since Esme Addison discovered Nancy Drew, she’s wanted to solve mysteries. As a mystery author, she’s finally found a way to make that dream come true. Esme lives in Raleigh, NC with her family. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new mysteries for her sleuths to stumble upon, you can find her dancing her calories away in Zumba, patronizing her local bookstores or visiting the beach, the mountains and all historical sites in between. Learn more about Esme at https://esmeaddison.com and follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @EsmeAddison. Subscribe to her newsletter at https://esmeaddison.com/newsletter/.