Fantasy Careers is a blog series where I interview characters from fantasy books about their interesting jobs and unusual careers. Interested in taking part? Drop me a line through my contact form.
Elise: Today, I’d like to welcome Nilla to Magic Writer. Hi Nilla, tell us a bit about yourself!
Nilla: Hi, Elise. I’m handy with spells, being a bit of a witch for hire, but I’m all Glinda. (The original…none of the reboots.) I live in Whisper Falls. I never heard of it before I ended up in it either, but it’s on Google Maps, so it’s not quite the twilight zone. It’s a little quieter than the city, and the coffee is good. Try Coffee-on-Main.
Elise: And what does your job involve?
Nilla: That depends on which door you open when you pop in at my store on Main Street, Whisper Falls. Most folks only see the sign that says Which Light, so my job as far as they’re concerned is selling them lamps, light fittings, and shades. They don’t see a witch behind the counter; they see Vanilla Hayes, proprietor licensed to dispense light. Or at least the bits and bobs that give you light at the end of the day. It keeps me off the streets, so I’m committed to serving those customers. To be honest, they’re all straight up about what they want. They don’t skulk into my store with hidden agendas. I won’t go so far as to say I like all my customers, but most of them are a breeze to deal with.
Then, there’s the other side of the business. Those people who don’t see only one sign in the window. They see another sign that tells them a different story about the woman behind the counter. They see Witch Light. These people, usually with more than a little supernatural in their DNA, are my clients. There aren’t as many of them as there are customers, but when they come through the door life always gets a little more interesting. Well, you could say it gets more complicated, sometimes you could say it gets deadly.
Understandably they’re not top of my list of people I know and love, but witching is something that gets under your skin. You can’t turn it off, not like a light switch. I’ve thought about retiring from the witch for hire game…but let’s face it, that’s never gonna happen. I sell these people spells. The requests vary. I try not to do anything that could go wrong, but some folks are good at turning innocent magic into tainted wares. I’m not going to sell you Love Potion #9, but I do a steady trade in finding spells, protection magic; you know, the white stuff that doesn’t lead to the dark side. Well…the magic of good intentions at least. Sometimes clients are a little cavalier with their good intentions. Then I end up knee deep in trouble without my thigh high boots on.
Elise: It sounds interesting! And good to hear you’re a white witch. Do you have a particular type of expertise that clients come to you for?
Nilla: Witching is one of those multi use talents in the supernatural world, so expertise in this arena is pretty varied. If you got kinks, you’d find the witch of your heart’s desire if you look around hard enough. Not all witches are good. Don’t do bad witches kids; they’re not a healthy habit to pick up. If I had to pick a bit of a speciality for myself, I’d probably have to say finding spells are what most people tend to turn up at my door looking for. Let’s face it, finding things is probably what most folks turn to a witch for. Most of the time we even help them out. Since the clients need a little something magical in them to see my witched sign, I don’t get many requests for finding lost keys. It’s way more exotic than that. One time I found a corpse for somebody. True story. Didn’t end well.
Elise: Mmm… nice. I have to say, I can’t imagine misplacing a corpse! So, what does a typical day in your job involve?
Nilla: Mostly I spend my days tending the cash register and taking money from strangers. It’s a living, and it isn’t half as dull as I make it sound. I actually enjoy my cover story. As I said, it makes way more money than the alter ego, witch for hire. It’s long hours of people looking at lamps, asking me about wattage, and whether I think this lampshade clashes with that vomit yellow they want to paint their accent wall in. It’s easy money.
Sometimes, I have to put up that back in ten minutes sign, lock the door and lead a client down into the basement. It’s not creepy at all. It looks exactly like a basement in a lighting store would. Full of stock. Although there’s a touch of magic in the air down there; a bit of sepia in the lighting, like you’re stepping into an old photograph. There’s a table and chairs where I have a little heart to heart with my clients before I decide if I’m taking their witch work or declining it. Word to the wise, saying no to something with a bit of super in their natural isn’t always easy. Still, you got to have rules, don’t you?
Elise: Definitely. Being able to choose your clients is an advantage of working for yourself. What’s your favourite part of the job?
Nilla: I told you I’m a Glinda, which means that I’m a bit of a goody two shoes, so I get a genuine kick out of helping people. The best part is when someone ends the day smiling with a cheery sunset in the background promising a happy ending, or at least a happy for now. Whether I’m selling them a lamp or a spell, it’s still the same good feeling. Life doesn’t always give us that cheery sunset, but sometimes you get lucky. Those bits of the job, both jobs, are priceless.
Elise: It sounds like you enjoy both sides of the job then–the mundane and the magical!
Nilla: Selling lamps isn’t the worst thing in the world. Witching is like breathing; I got to do it. I suppose, now that you mention it, I do enjoy them both. I haven’t taken either sign out of the window yet. Must mean something, right?
Elise: *laughs* I would say so. Do you have any colleagues in either job?
Nilla: When I said the cover story made good money, I didn’t mean wonder emporium type good money. Co-workers aren’t on the cards at either job; witch or lamp lady. I do, however, have a bestie who pops in regularly with the only drink worth going out and spending big bucks on…coffee, designer coffee, barista brewed coffee. I like mine with sugar. More sugar. I’m not Mary Poppins. A spoonful is way too little for me; try four…or if I’m feeling a little low we could take up several more lumps. Livia, my BFF, is a daily part of the store’s nine to five, so some people might think she works there. She doesn’t. She just makes the display tables look like art and tries to be the psychic she thinks she is. She’s still only walking into Which Light, but if that changes, I’ll let you know.
Elise: Well, I would have to disagree on the drink … I’m 100% a tea drinker! That’s good you have a friend to drop in and keep you company, though. So, did you have any training to become a witch?
Nilla: Witching isn’t quite like some would have it. There’s no school for it, probably because there aren’t spells like they tell it in the stories. I won’t say there are no grimoires or potion recipes out there; I won’t even say that no real witch touches them… Because I’m just me and I know there’s a whole lot out there that I haven’t even begun to learn about. Just because I’m a witch doesn’t mean I know everything. If I did, I wouldn’t have so many werewolf exes in my past. I’d probably be able to hang onto a girlfriend, right? Training happens though, from time to time. You meet up with a witch or supernatural who feels inclined to give a little advice, share a little knowledge. I wouldn’t say there’s an apprenticeship in witchcraft or anything, or that I’ve seen many covens about… But you never know. I’m gonna say that if you can imagine it, it probably exists in some form out there. I know, that’s exciting but deeply disturbing too. Welcome to my world.
Elise: Learn as you go, to some extent then. Mind you, it’s good to have a job where you keep learning new things. Is there a reason why you settled in Whisper Falls?
Nilla: There’s totally a story behind my job, my game of charades in Whisper Falls, and I’ve even told that story in a bit more detail. It all starts with an angel. No, not one with wings, but that might have made him more frightening not less. You never work with angels. Never. Only, I did… I kind of had to. The whole story is in LUSTRE.
Elise: Ah, I’ll have check that out sometime… sounds like there’s a good story there! This sounds like your dream job then–the only thing you could imagine yourself doing.
Nilla: Dream job! It sure is, and I only have myself to blame. Ha. Inside joke, if you want to be on the inside of it, I don’t hold back on the details when I talk about it in LUSTRE.
Elise: Now I’m really intrigued! So, got any funny stories about the job that you can share?
Nilla: Don’t tell Livia, but there’s instant coffee hidden behind the counter. Sometimes Coffee-on-Main is just a little bit too far away, and when a witch needs sugar, a little coffee makes it taste better.
Elise: Your secret’s safe with me! If I were to visit you at work, what service could provide me with then? Not a decent cup of tea, by the sound of it *winks*
Nilla: Hypothetical question, hey? Now, without meaning to sound a little bit on the threatening side, it depends on whether you visit me dead or alive. Not me dead, you dead…or alive. Caveat, totally not about me making you dead at all. Witches get dead clients all the time. Well, at least I have had a few, and hey I can’t be that different from the next witch, can I? Now, you’re not scanning the room for the exit signs are you?
Elise: *laughs* I’d hope I’d be alive if I visit you… but you never know!
Nilla: Well, as I told you, I’m a Glinda, a good witch. I don’t do death spells. Necromancy isn’t my thing. But someone must be giving my witch card to the deceased because sometimes clients walk through the door instead of opening it. I can tell you, it’s not something you get used to.
If you visit me dead, it means you’ve missed your ride into the ever after and I would definitely recommend you ask me for a new ticket. I can do that, and believe me, I’d rather do that than get into anything else. I see dead people; I don’t want to take it further than that. Really.
If you’re alive, then I guess you’re not in my store to ask about recommendations. Not if you want to go down into the basement. You have an agenda, and you’re gonna tell me about it…maybe not at the beginning, but trust me it all comes out in the end.
But, I can see you’re not taking this line of conversation with a pinch of salt…so, let’s pretend I didn’t start it out with dead or alive and just ask you, would you like a lamp? I have some with stained glass shades that really would look lovely on almost any side table. They’d even go really well with a vomit yellow accent wall.
Elise: Ha, well, my decor is my magnolia and soft brown, with red accents. But next time my lighting needs updating, I’ll know where to find you! Thanks for stopping by today, Nilla. It’s been great.
Find out more about Nilla in the Witchlight series:
LUSTRE (A Witchlight Novella)
Witching for a living is hard. Witching after your werewolf girlfriend opts for ex is harder. Witching as an escape, now that’s impossible. Just ask Nilla Hayes.
BUMP (A Witchlight Novel)
Ever had that feeling–when you’re completely alone–that you’re being watched? I envy you. I see the watcher in an empty room, and I firmly believe ignorance would be bliss.
GLOAM (A Witchlight FREE Short)
This morning Nilla Hayes woke up with death. She’s not sure whose death it is, but when she finds out her day isn’t going to get a whole lot better.
Jaime Munn lives in a house with too many windows on the outskirts of Manchester, the city of immortal bees. He writes contemporary and urban fantasy stories. His novels blend the real world with his fascination for all things supernatural. By day he is a hypnotherapist. By night, he is not a vampire.