Author: A. Rose Pritchett
Narrator: Melanie Huesz
Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes
Publisher: A. Rose Pritchett
Released: June 11, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction; Young Adult
Boston, 1846. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Parish, a barber’s daughter, practices practical witchcraft using locks of hair obtained from her father’s customers. She’s very selective about who knows her secret and the kinds of spells she casts. Only people she trusts can know, and she must never cast a spell to harm another person.
One of her father’s clients is Theodore O’Brian, an Irish immigrant whose family is fortunate enough to be wealthy. Mildred is head over heels in love with him, but he’s destined to be with someone else. One day, a woman named Trinity Hartell comes knocking on Mildred’s door. She has a vendetta against an entire family and wants Mildred to cast a death spell on them. The family? The O’Brians, including Theodore. Mildred refuses, but Trinity is set on getting what she wants, one way or another.
Mildred now feels she must protect the O’Brian family and the man she loves, but she must also protect herself. How can she make sure Trinity is stopped without telling the entire city of Boston that she’s a witch?
Rose Pritchett’s writing career started in kindergarten when she daydreamed about being a fairy princess instead of learning subtraction. Her childhood obsession with American Girl turned her into an avid history lover.
At seventeen, she moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her BA in writing with a history minor from Georgia Southern University. She continues to live in Savannah, still daydreaming about princesses wearing gorgeous dresses. A LOCK OF HAIR is her debut novel.
Melanie Huesz is new to audiobook production and narration, but not new to performing. She has an MFA in acting and was a graduate fellow at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger. Before moving from the stage to the classroom, her acting roles included ingenues, leading ladies, and character roles.
As a middle school teacher and an avid audiobook listener with more than 300 books in her audio library, Melanie has seen the power of bringing books to life in her classroom and was inspired to return to performing through narration. Drawn to the world of YA, she has spent the summer recording three new novels aimed at young adults.
Q&A with Author A. Rose Pritchett
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
When I first published my book a year ago, I knew I wanted to turn it into an audiobook, but didn’t know how to go about it. It seemed expensive and I already invested so much into editing and publishing. Then, after some research, I discovered that ACX has a royalty-share program, which means that I pay nothing upfront, but just split my royalties with the narrator. I auditioned a few narrators, and ended up choosing Melanie Huesz because she gave each character a unique voice, which I knew was a major challenge. After all, there are characters from Boston, Ireland and the South. Some are young, some are old, and one has Down Syndrome. After a couple months of back-and-forth, we got an audiobook produced.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Mildred’s dog, Nightshade, is inspired by my dog, Isabel. Even though they’re different breeds, Nightshade acts a lot like Isabel. Also, I took a Meyers-Briggs test from Mildred’s POV for the heck of it, and she’s an INFJ like me, so there’s that.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
Contrary to popular advice, I don’t write every day. A lot of times, I’ll switch my focus to one of my many, many hobbies. In fact, part of my routine on days that I write is to take a break to draw or cross stitch, just to be away from the screen. I also allow myself to take “lazy days”, which are days (usually Sunday) where I just do nothing at all except watch cheesy movies and play Sims. It gives my mind a rest so that I’m not half-dead the next time I stare at the little blinking line on the blank screen.
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
I would definitely use it! I’m such a history nerd and I’m obsessed with the Victorian Age in England and the Belle Epoque in France, so those are the first two places I would go to. Maybe go to a ball or shop for gorgeous gowns. But really, I’d love to see every time period if I could. However, I wouldn’t say I was born in the wrong era, considering that women’s rights, racism, and overall living standards were worse in the past. And I was also born with a disability that requires me to rely on 21st century medicine. If I’d been born in my favorite eras, I probably would not have survived childhood.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
Since it was self-published, I could choose the date it went on sale, and I chose my birthday, September 28th. So really, I kinda ended up celebrating my birthday and publishing my book at the same time in the same way: going to see the Downton Abbey movie and pigging out on popcorn and Nestle Crunch bites.
What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
With a writing slump, definitely movies! Disney movies practically never fail to get me going again, especially Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. And pretty much any musical. I’m a maladaptive daydreamer, which means that movies and music send me off into lalaland way too easily. Dolls also help me. I still have some from my childhood and I have some collector Barbies. They bring me back to being 8-years-old again, when I was super imaginative. When I’m having a reading slump, I make a conscious effort to crack open my book and read, and I usually end up getting stuck in the story again.
Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
Haha, yes! The night before I finished my first draft, I had a Lock of Hair/Moana crossover dream. Don’t know how the two are related, but… *shoulder shrug*.
What’s your favorite:
Food: Does chocolate count?
Song: I have a lot, but Primadonna by Marina is pretty much my anthem.
Book: The Book Thief. I’m not someone who cries easily, but that book had me sobbing by the end.
Television show: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I seriously want all the dresses on that show.
Movie: This is tough! But I’m gonna have to say Titanic. Cliche, I know, but I get chills watching the opening scene.
Band: All of the music I listen to are independent artists, so I don’t really have a favorite band. But some of my favorite singers are Marina, Lana del Rey, and Melanie Martinez.
Sports team: Eh, I’m not really a sports fan.
City: This is cliche, but Paris. I’ve never been, but I’ve been practically planning my Paris trip ever since I could talk.
Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
No. I was mostly inspired by Sweeney Todd and Alias Grace.
What’s next for you?
I have a completed draft of my second book set during WW2 that I’m trying to get published, and I’m currently working on my third book, which is a fantasy that I’m really in love with. I’ve also dabbled in screenplay writing, with a pilot for a miniseries inspired by my childhood growing up in the restaurant industry and a script that I’m working on-and-off based on my experiences going from my preppy middle school to my arts high school (total culture shock!). All of my works have the same snarkiness that A Lock of Hair has.
Author A. Rose Pritchett’s Top Ten Reasons to Hear A Lock of Hair
- There’s a dog. Need I say more?
- It’s full of snarky humor. Especially from Mary, the peppery Irish girl.
- The story is about a Christian witch, written by an actual Christian witch. I used my personal experiences growing up in the Bible Belt with an interest in witchcraft and my knowledge of the practice at the time I wrote the first draft.
- The narrator is talented at conveying each character’s unique voice, and there are a wide range of characters from a variety of backgrounds.
- There’s disability representation. Roger has Down Syndrome, though for accuracy’s sake, it’s not mentioned in the actual story because the condition wasn’t named until later in the 19th century.
- It recognizes that there was racism, sexism, and ableism in a period that is often over-romanticized.
- There’s a focus on Irish-American history. Even though there’s a lot of controversy over how it should be discussed in comparison to African-American history, it still shouldn’t be ignored. Growing up, I had an overly-simplified version of my own history where things were bad in Europe, so they immigrated to America and things got better, not really knowing that white Americans discriminated against each other, as well. Meanwhile, even as a child, black history was never sugar-coated or simplified.
- The main character doesn’t scoff at feminine things, but is still strong. When I was about 15, a trend started in YA literature where the female leads had more masculine traits and hated things such as pretty dresses, for example. Those characters were seen as strong, independent role models for young women, while the more feminine characters were put in the supporting role. As someone who loves everything to do with pink and princesses and glitter, I had trouble calling myself a feminist because of this.
- It’s pacifist. Mildred’s main rule is to not purposefully harm others, which is something I value personally. While many stories focus on killing the bad guy, mine focuses on how to combat violence in a non-violent manner.
- By listening to this book, you’re supporting a disabled author. With the disability I have, finding a job that I can do is hard, so I cannot say how much I appreciate each and every single reader.
Millie is a witch (mainly in secret) and casts spells to help others; as well as training her apprentice Mary. One day Trinity comes to her and ask her to cast a death spell against a family who she has a vendetta against; but the family is the O’Briens. And Millie is hopelessly in love with Theodore. She refuses as she won’t harm others, but knows that Trinity won’t stop until she gets her revenge. Whilst trying to protect those she cares about, she ends up putting herself in danger. Will her secret stay a secret? And will they all come out of it the other end alive?
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The storyline is fantastic and the narration was brilliant. I have to say that Melanie is probably my favourite narrator to date. I genuinely felt like she was Millie and was telling me the story (rather than reading it). It flowed really well and was a joy to listen to.
I absolutely fell in love with some of the characters. Millie for starters! She is such a lovely and warm person who just wants to do the right thing by people, and suffers some terrible persecution in this story. She most definitely doesn’t deserve it. She’s so in love with Theodore and even though he is meant to be with someone else, you can’t help but will them to get together! He is another lovely caring person, although the story will make you question this. My other favourite character was Roger. I absolutely adored him. He is completely underestimated by some because of his learning disability (due to the time this is set) but is an absolute darling!
The author has done a fantastic job of transporting the reader back to 1846, and I felt like I’d stepped back in time. There are so many sensitive subject that are covered, such a racism and persecution of others because of their beliefs or disabilities. It really made me stop and think about how things have changed since then. The things that happen made me so sad or angry, because the characters really don’t deserve the treatment they get. But these things did happen historically (and even today in some places) and it’s wonderful that the author has taken her time to highlight these issues.
Overall, I really enjoyed the whole storyline, setting and narration and would definitely read more from this author; and absolutely listen to more books narrated by Melanie. if you’re looking for your next YA historical story then make sure you check this out. Highly recommended by me.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by A. Rose Pritchett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
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