End of Season Interview

This week I’ve been lucky enough to pin Gretchen down for an interview at her new place of business, Murkwood Medicinals. She seems to be doing rather well for herself, and I couldn’t help but notice the freshly lacquered window frames and the fresh coat of paint as I arrived for my appointment. As with all potion shops, the smells coming from the back room were a bit dubious, but the brownie at the counter was very helpful, and I must admit, Gretchen does brew a stellar pot of tea.

So Gretchen, it’s been a while! How’s the new potion shop coming along?

It’s shaping up pretty well if I do say so myself. The candlemaker dove a hard bargain, but after having Jurgen come around to inspect the place, he was more amenable to negotiating. I’m still really getting things set up as I’d like them, but with the help of Nellie’s cousin, Gustav, I’m still doing a decent trade.

Sounds like a lot of hard work. I’m guessing you don’t get to spend a lot of time at The Salt and Bog these days?

Not as much as I’d like, no. But at least Jurgen has Nellie around to keep him in line. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think those two were an old married couple. I think they’re the only two people who can’t see that. It might be a little too soon after the Minowhatever, but I can see those guys having a happy life together.

And how’s Piper doing at the Academy?

Putting the rest of ‘em to shame, she is. And it’s no wonder with her nose always stuffed in a spell book. Those witches over at the cooperative that I ‘sponsor’ are really taking her under their wing and showing her how to enchant a bunch of stuff. Her confidence is improving with spellcraft, and I’m pretty proud of her.

Nice. Did you ever get that ever burning hearth stone that was mentioned at the end of the last book?

Sure did. It’s keeping the cauldron at a nice simmer at the shop, and it means the cottage is still warm when I get back to Edgewater. Not that I’m there much these days. I’ve got a cot up in the loft which I use during the week, and Mulligan prefers city rats to the vermin back home.

So Nora was right when she said you should be living in the city?

Pah. Not likely. She doesn’t know if she’s coming or going out running errands for the Witches’ Council. Last I heard, she was hunting down some cursed spoon in the mountains. She’s a lot happier these days though, and is laying off the witches’ brew if you know what I mean. *drinky drinky hand gesture*

Good for her. So after following so many of your adventures over the past couple of years, I’d like to ask you some questions about them if that’s okay?

Ugh. Here we go. The puppeteer is pining for her strings, is she?

Well… maybe. I’ve missed hanging out with you.

Torturing me, you mean?

Oh, come on. It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?

Which parts, exactly? Getting thrown in the dungeon? Having to save the day with my bodily functions? Reanimating zombies? Losing my hat? Having my cottage burn down?

Hey, you were unruly on the page. And in the end it turned out just fine, didn’t it?

*Sigh* I suppose so. 

So you’re telling me that you don’t miss crazy adventures?

Maybe. But if you pick up that darn quill again, can you at least take me somewhere exotic where there’s a lot of cocktails? 

Deal. Now, what were some of the highlights for you over the past thirteen stories?

Ah, well, let’s see. I suppose I would never have met Piper if the krampuses never showed up. And I couldn’t imagine life without Jurgen, I guess. I’m still trying to figure out how the heck I managed to enchant that one. Nora quitting her job with the baron was great until she moved into my place, but of course finally catching up to Great Aunt Esme was really the icing on the cake.

Have you and Cordelia been in touch with Esme?

Sure. We must annoy her, as the whole time thing is different in fairyland. But every Friday I head over to the Academy to share a double-distilled witches’ brew with Cordy and scratch a message or two to Aunt Esme. It’s nice. If anyone had told me I’d be drinking with my sister a year ago, I’d have never believed it.

Do you think you would have done anything differently in the stories in hindsight?

Absolutely not. Regrets are for saps. I’m not going to say everything happens for a reason, but I wouldn’t be where I am now if I’d have made different choices. 

And what’s next for you?

I should be asking you that. But while you’re off scribbling other things, I guess it’s really a matter of restocking my stores of potions and trying to figure out how to re-make my infinity pouch on the side. Elod thinks I’m daft, but he’s at least agreed to try to find any mention of such an enchantment through his networks.

What’s the use of an infinity pouch if all you’re doing is selling potions?

Are you kidding? That pouch was the best thing I ever owned. You know how annoying it is lugging things around on a broomstick? Those witches at the cooperative haven’t figured out how to make those horseless carts or whatever they’d envisaged. I doubt they’ll ever really be a viable method of transportation, particularly outside the city. And paying someone to haul carts is a real pain in the neck.

Fair enough. Have you caught up with anyone from the stories since the series wrapped up?

Yeah, a few. I’ve taken Piper out to meet Viragh a couple of times, but his idea of accommodation in that tower of his is a world away from creature comforts. When summer rolls around, we might go out camping for a few weeks, though. Oh, and Rapunzel sent a coupon sent to the shop for one of her Tallest Tower spas. I don’t have the heart to tell the girl that no amount of pampering will reverse gravity in my case, but it might be nice to get away for the weekend sometime. Hm, who else? Still no word from the tooth fairy realm. From what I can piece together, the fairies over with Esme are working to open up the portals, so I hope to see Tula again someday. Of course Gavin is still doing an impressive trade in glowing silver, and the elves are pretty happy working with him.

Wow. Seems like you’ve been busy.

It’s amazing what a witch can get done when she isn’t thrown a curveball every couple of weeks.

Point taken. Finally, have you got anything you’d like to tell the fans out there?

Fans? If I knew I had those, I’d have looked into merchandising. Hey, maybe if they’re in the city they can drop into Murkwood Medicinals and I’ll give ‘em a good deal on wart serums or boil busters. I’ll even autograph their receipts personally.

Well, it’s been really nice chatting with you today. I’d love to tell you that I’ll leave you alone for a while, but I get the feeling there’s a new story brewing in my mind set in this little shop of yours.

Man, I should never have agreed to an interview. I need a better agent.

I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did!

I’ve really missed that witch’s sass. Haven’t read Queen Mab’s Castle? No problem, check it out here.

Looking for more bonus content? Head back to the episode page where I keep it in the one spot.

Saying Goodbye

This illustration is a bit of a tear jerker from me, and marks the growth Gretchen has made in her life throughout the series. From the hopeless witch who could barely cobble together a reliable potion without burning her house down, she has transformed into something else entirely.

The thread of Aunt Esme has dangled throughout the entire series, and I like to think that Gretchen didn’t find her missing aunt until she was ready to let her go. It’s a pretty symbolic moment, and one we all face at some point in our lives.

The illustrator, Rod Savely has been a pleasure to work with on these images, and they will be included in the complete collection print edition on each title page.

Haven’t read Queen Mab’s Castle? No problem, check it out here.

Looking for more bonus content? Head back to the episode page where I keep it in the one spot.