Author Freddie Kölsch on YA Debut ‘Now, Conjurers’ | 5 Questions and a Rec

In this Q&A series, SLJ poses five questions and a request for a book recommendation to a debut YA author. In the latest installment, Freddie Kölsch shares about Now, Conjurers.

In this Q&A series, SLJ poses five questions and a request for a book recommendation to a debut YA author. In the latest installment, Freddie Kölsch shares about Now, Conjurers.

1. Congrats on your YA debut! How would you describe your book to readers?
Thank you, it’s been such a wonderful time!  Okay, so I’ve given this a lot of thought, because I’m very bad at the whole “elevator pitch” aspect. Now, Conjurers is a book about a really tight-knit coven of weird high school kids who can do magic that actually works. When their leader, Bastion—secret witch, gentle jock, and the boyfriend of our protagonist, Nesbit—is found murdered in a grisly fashion in the local cemetery, the remaining members of North Coven have to unravel the mystery of his death before the cosmic nightmare hiding under their town destroys all of their lives. It’s part supernatural horror, part tragic romance, and all Y2K-era strangeness.

Photo by Alex Russell

2. What drew you to YA to tell this story?
I’m so amazed at all the wonderful queer fiction that is being written for teenagers, and I can’t help but feel that the stories being told today—that are allowed to be told today—are the kinds of stories that would have impacted my life in an incredibly positive way when I was a kid. I wanted to be involved in that social progression, to tell stories with queer casts and exciting genre elements. I wanted to write for the odd ones, the outcasts, the kids who need to feel seen. Not only is it incredibly fun to write YA, but it gives me a chance to be part of an expanding world of representation. I feel honored to be involved in that.

3. What, if anything, surprised you while writing it?
I was surprised by how much this fun-and-sad horror story turned out to be a story about grief: about grieving for lost loved ones, of course, but also about grieving for the family members who’ve let you down, the changing expectations you have for yourself and others, and the end of childhood. I don’t think it’s a dour or miserable book by any means, but it does touch on the deepest, darkest parts of growing up.

4. Tell us more about the characters. Which character do you most identify with and why?
Of the main cast, there’s nobody who is directly analogous to anyone real…but one of the supporting characters is a person who is very afraid to come out of the closet because of their home life. They behave badly because of their pain and desire to be someone they aren’t. And that person is very much a self-insert for how I felt—if not who I was—during my teenage years. But I don’t want to actually name them, because I’m going to accidentally reveal a bunch of spoilers! I’ve probably said too much already.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
More than anything, I hope that teenagers can be taken out of themselves and thoroughly entertained while they read this. They have a lot on their plates at any given time, so I want them to feel like they’ve truly escaped into an exciting otherworld. And I hope they come away feeling a little bit seen when they’re finished with the book.

The Rec: Finally, we love YA and recommendations—what’s your favorite YA book you've read recently?
There’s a book coming out in August called Here Lies A Vengeful Bitch that I can’t recommend enough. It’s a wonderful story about toxic misogyny…and ghostly revenge…with a great main character who I think teenagers will absolutely love.

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