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Working Her Magic on History

The Big Thrill Interviews Bestselling Author Esme Addison

By Lisa Malice

Book cover: AN INTRIGUE OF WITCHES Imagine a story with one puzzling element after another, combining ancient history, powerful cabals, the intrigues America’s founders faced in the struggle for independence, and the search for a mysterious archeological relic that may have the power to save the modern world from an unthinkable future. Esme Addison has done so with AN INTRIGUE OF WITCHES, the first book in her new Secret Society series, which draws on her love of history, magic, and mysteries with cryptic clues and puzzles.

The heroine in AN INTRIGUE OF WITCHES is Sidney Taylor, an American History wunderkind—a rising star at the Smithsonian Museum, the go-to expert for the History Channel’s early American archeological digs, and the darling of TV and print media for her ability to make history cool for the ignorant masses. That is, until she discovers an ancient Egyptian relic in a centuries-old Native American mound. Suddenly, her department—supposedly flush with funds—cuts her loose, claiming the need for budget cuts.

Licking her wounds, Sidney heads to her grandmother’s farm in rural North Carolina to accept an unusual offer from a local history museum director she can’t refuse—find a missing archeological artifact (one nobody can describe) and walk away with a million dollars. An exciting treasure hunt ensues with Sidney following 200-year-old clues planted by President James Madison and other patriots to hide the object. As each discovery brings her closer to her goal, she finds herself pulled deeper into the dark world of a secret cabal, one intent on solidifying their power forever through the virtual enslavement of society and its people. Sidney comes to discover that she, herself, is part of an age-old secret society of women whose unique powers may yet save the world from tyranny, a legacy that may cost Sidney her life if she’s not careful.

Author Photo: Esme Addison

Esme Addison

Esme found inspiration for writing the tale after she and her family moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia, an area rich in American history. She explored museums, toured the estates of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, and visited Colonial Williamsburg. But it was her first Revolutionary War battle re-enactment that brought history to life. “The whole scene was interesting—and a bit spooky, as I really felt like I was back in time—so I knew I would write about it someday, a contemporary mystery founded in historical times.”

The challenge, however, was to figure out how to bring the past forward into a present-day storyline. “During the Revolutionary War, with so many colonists loyal to England and the King, Washington was concerned about spy rings. He cultivated a group of counterintelligence agents that used coded letters, invisible ink, and other ciphers and devices to write and pass secret messages. During the War of 1812, Madison was similarly worried about conspiracies to England’s efforts to reclaim America as a British territory, concerns he shared with Jefferson via coded letters. The concerns of both Washington and Madison inspired this story.”

While Esme’s stories all include an element of fantasy, she balances this with what is real. “I like to write as factually as I can, so when I’m working on an idea, I like to look for information that will support it in reality. In AN INTRIGUE OF WITCHES, I didn’t know what artifact Sidney was searching for until I was well into the first draft. But I did know that the story involved a secret society that communicated using Egyptian iconography. So, I looked for an artifact that I could somehow legitimately link Egypt to North Carolina. And, I found it!”

For Esme, even magic she writes about can have basis in science. “The definition of magic changes with every generation, as people learn about science and technology and what it can do. With that understanding, what appeared to be magic for one generation could be science for the next.”

Some readers may read AN INTRIGUE OF WITCHES—with its search for a historical treasure—and compare it to the film National Treasure or Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book series. “I’ve always wanted to have those types of adventures. That’s why I love escape rooms. I love following clues, figuring out puzzles and what they mean, where they might lead. I wanted this book to be that kind of adventure.” The clues Esme needed to create for Sidney’s treasure hunt had to be relevant to the time period in which they were made, whether that was ancient Egypt or post-revolutionary America. “These clues had to stand the test of time—hidden in the past but still around to be found today.”

Readers can look forward to the next book in Esme’s Secret Society series, which follows Sidney as she learns more about her legacy and her unique role and abilities amidst the search for another artifact. I, for one, will enjoy the hunt!


The Big Thrill Interviews Bestselling Author Esme Addison

Lisa Malice
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