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Eliza Henry-Jones on Witchcraft and YA

A photo of Eliza Henry-Jones.

Eliza Henry-Jones is an author, PhD candidate and sessional academic in creative writing. She is the author of two novels and two novels for young adults, which have been listed for a number of awards and her fifth novel Salt and Skin will be published in August.

Ahead of her workshop Writing Loss and Grief in YA, Writers Victoria Online Learning Administrator, Bianca Breen, spoke with Eliza about the history behind her forthcoming Salt and Skin, her current projects and her love of all things young adult.

Your upcoming release, Salt and Skin, sounds so intriguing! What was the inspiration behind the story?

St Magnus Cathedral – a very old, very beautiful sandstone church on the Orkney Islands – sparked the idea that eventually became Salt and Skin. Throughout the seventeenth century, people (overwhelmingly women) were charged with witchcraft, incarcerated in the kirk dungeon, and executed on a nearby hill called Gallow ha’. The dungeon is still intact in St Magnus, as is the hangman’s ladder and iron cuffs used during the trials (and executions). How do we make sense of these sites and objects? How do we navigate them?

Are you working on any writing projects at the moment that you can talk about?

I’m the sort of writer who works best with several projects on the go. I’m working on a couple of novels with a similar fantastical bend to Salt and Skin, as well as a A novel that’s all about death.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished an early copy of Sophie Cunningham’s This Devastating Fever – I thought I’d reached peak-Sophie-fan-girl long ago, but apparently not! Currently reading Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen and am completely bowled over.

You’ve written for a wide range of audiences, but what is it about writing for young adults that you love and find important?

I love writing for a young adult audience (and creating young adult characters) because there’s just so much energy and complexity when you’re on the cusp of adulthood. Things are felt so deeply and there’s so much motion and uncertainty and so many possibilities. I love teaching young adults for the same reasons.

We’re so excited to have you present the Writing Loss and Grief in YA workshop with us – what are you hoping participants take away from the workshop?  

A way forward in their work on grief and loss.

Join Eliza in a masterclass on all things grief and YA – sign up to her workshop Writing Loss and Grief in YA (registrations close 27th July).

Members of Writers Victoria receive up to 37% off the full price of all clinics, workshops, seminars and courses.

Writers experiencing financial and social barriers to developing their skills are encouraged to apply to The Writers Victoria Fund for subsidised attendance at workshops and clinics.

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