Andre Norton’s Witch World: Inspiration

Andre Norton is my favorite author, period. I’ve been reading and collecting her work – with an emphasis on the Witch World series – for over 10 years. I often read her books or refer to them and since this is my blog… I’m going to selfishly read, review, and list them. All. 😀

What is the Witch World? How was it created?

From Andre Norton.Org:

Witch World really grew from another idea altogether. Years ago, before I entered the sf-fantasy field of writing (no one was interested in buying ms. that were book length then), I had an idea dealing with the Norman holdings in Outremer during the Crusading period – those small baronies (ect) which were carved out and held by landless knights who did not wish to return to Europe after their long travel to the Middle East.

The section in the first book which deals with Verlaine and its heiress was an incident I had imagined for such a book. The book was never written except as scraps at the time. Then, much later, I came across the legend that the mysterious seat at the Round Table which came to be Galahad’s – The Siege Perilous – in reality dropped into another time and place those rash enough to try it who were not fitted to be seated there. That gave me an opening for an adventure tale.

Witch World was never meant to be a series – it just grew. And many of the books are based on authentic folk tales long in our knowledge. Warlock of the Witch World, for example, is really a retelling of the old Saxon story of Childe Roland. Year of the Unicorn is a version of Beauty and the Beast – and so on.

I research heavily for each book or tale – not only in the field of legend and folk story, but also in history of the middle ages and early English and British material. Over the years I have acquired an extensive personal library of folklore, history and witchcraft material to which I go for reference.

I have to ration myself now with Witch World books as I do not want to start repeating myself – which is easy to do with a too familiar background. So I do not write one as often as I wish, and I do try to get an unfamiliar background as much as I can. My most recent work is one laid in the mysterious south from which the Falconers first came and gives a clue to the reason for their warped life style – it is a shorter work entitled Falcon Blood and has a Sulcar girl for a heroine.

But one does have to deal with a great many small details and I now have a special Witch World book with backgrounds for the already printed stories, ect. so that I won’t make any glaring mistakes.
–The Norton Newsletter, Issue #1, march 1979

Andre Norton Books.com has a wonderful collection of interviews with Andre Norton here.

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