Author Mary Rickert Explains Why Stories About Witches Still Rivet Us

There are some storybook creatures that seem to have some serious cultural staying power: vampires, werewolves, fairies, and, of course, witches. But what is it about stories about witches that keep us coming back for more after so long?

Author Mary Rickert, who wrote The Memory Garden, joined us for an author Q&A today and shared us a bit about just about how the witch's story in her own tale came to be — and some thoughts on just how the typical witch story had become so popular:

Once I realized what story I was writing I very much hoped to subvert the usual witch persecution tale as well as the usual ideas of what a witch is and what power can be. I also really wanted to highlight how this persecution of women is so dominant in our culture that it isn't even seen, and is so pervasive that it is handed down through generations so that even the witch, as a mythological being the symbol of women's power, is usually associated with evil. That really bothers me. The older witch character has been appearing in many forms of my work for years, though none of those pieces were published. I think she came from my elderly neighbor when I was growing up who forgot it was Halloween one year and went out. She came home to find her house chalked with "witch." She told me this the next day, in tears.

Image: Magic Circle, John William Waterhouse / Tate Britain