In celebration of Black History Month, author S. Isabelle spoke to us about the magical fantasy world she created and the fearless Black witches at its center.

An Author Q&A with S. Isabelle

michelle pastor  //  Feb 20, 2024

An Author Q&A with S. Isabelle


This Black History Month, Scholastic is continuing to Share Black Stories that celebrate the real-life heroes among us, imagine new worlds and new possibilities, spread Black joy, and empower kids to be brave. In The Witchery and Shadow Coven, author S. Isabelle created a magical fantasy world with fearless Black witches at center. Read more about her inspirations and writing process below!

What inspired you to write The Witchery?

The Witchery was inspired by all of the paranormal and supernatural media I loved growing up. Fantasy is my favorite genre, and witches are such a timeless staple. I wanted to write a story with Black witches in the foreground rather than in the supporting cast like a lot of the books and movies I loved.


You’ve said that you wanted to expand the canon of Black girls in paranormal media. Can you talk more about that?

Some of my favorite characters in fantasy media include Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries, Tara from True Blood, and the iconic Rochelle from The Craft. But their storylines were often sidelined or underdeveloped in favor of the white characters. Black teens deserve to see characters who look like them solving mysteries and slaying monsters in richly developed plots. Teen Sophie would be so happy to see all the Black-authored YA fantasy stories we now have in bookstores.


The sequel, Shadow Coven, revisits the witches in the summer after they work together on a common goal throughout the first book. What did you want to explore about their personal lives and the things they’re dealing with outside of school?

I was so excited to delve deeper into the characters’ personal lives in Shadow Coven. Each character’s past informed the decisions they made in The Witchery, and I got to play around with how the events of the first book still mattered for the second. Placing the story during the summer also gave me the opportunity to introduce new settings; we see Thalia return to her hometown, Trent visiting a college for witches, and even spend some time in a few haunted houses. I loved the small-town feel of The Witchery, but it was so fun to expand the universe for the sequel.

You write from the perspectives of six different characters with vastly different backgrounds and life experiences. How did you balance so many different points of view?

Writing this multi-POV story definitely had its challenges, but I loved crafting each individual character as well as the group dynamics. It was vital to make sure that each character had their own storylines and motivations. I usually don’t write super detailed outlines, but I kept a character sheet for each protagonist that helped ensure that they reacted to plot points in ways that made sense. The found family trope is one of my favorites, so it’s been fun to see how readers have taken to these characters.

What’s your favorite part of writing about these characters?

These characters honestly feel like my kids and taking them through all the adventures and twists so that they could grow felt really satisfying as a writer. It was also nice that while drafting these books, I could always work on a different character’s story if I had some writer’s block with another. I especially loved crafting the banter when the group was together and getting those moments to infuse comedy even in moments of danger.

Each witch has their own kind of power – which would you choose to have?

As cool as it would be to have deathmagic like Iris, I think I have to go for Thalia’s greenwitchery. Not only would I be a better plant mom, but healing magic would be super useful to have!