3 min read

Letter of News: August Star Wars Witches

On the left, a modern, cartoony interpretation of a witch; on the right, a more traditional woodcut-inspired one.
Two covers, both alike in dignity! North America on the left, Commonwealth on the right.

Dear Friends,

Happy Lammas, Merry Lughnasadh, and a fine August 1 to you all!

The first day in August is one of harvests to me – aesthetically and metaphorically, anyway, as I live in a Zone 5 climate. There's a promise of tomatoes ripening, the last of the raspberries and the first of the blackberries; there's still a whole month of summer left, whether or not that time's restful. In this burning, drowning world we have to make and keep our own holy days.

The beginnings of an heirloom tomato, green and round on its hairy vine.

So I woke early this morning, and baked a sourdough loaf, and laid out a board of fruit and cheese for a visiting friend, and we all sat down at the dining room table together and worked on our writing for a spell.

A sourdough boule ready to be baked, marked with concentric flour rings from the proofing basket and slashed in the shape of a compass rose or four-pointed star with smaller diagonal marks pointing into its corners.

Speaking of which: The Book of Witches is now out in North America!

Promo card for THE BOOK OF WITCHES anthology, superimposing the words "Featuring John Hollowback and the Witch by Amal El-Mohtar" over an enlarged crop of the hand-like roots and branches from the book's cover, and a small photo of the book itself standing at an angle. A banner below reads "Something Wicked... ... Arrives Aug. 1, 2023"

I planted this story in Jonathan Strahan's inbox just over a year ago, and now it's ready for your own reading harvests. John Hollowback meets the Witch "at the far end of a fallow field, browning with the fall," but to me it's a late summer story that feels gardens and seasons deeply. I truly hope you enjoy it.

In other short fiction news: I'm beyond thrilled to be able to reveal STAR WARS SECRETS, which is to say, the subject of my contribution to From A Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi. Here he is, in all his distinct lack of glory: Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod.

"Any Work Worth Doing" by Amal El-Mohtar. Excerpt reads as follows: "Moff Jerjerrod watched Darth Vader go, then turned on his heel and matched that gait, that rhythm, exactly. Let everyone assembled see harmony in the choreography of their parting; let them see how aligned are Jerjerrod and Vader, how attuned, marching to the same silent, powerful music. Let them see Jerjerrod as he thought of himself: not as Vader’s inferior, but as his instrument. As he walked out of the hangar bay, Jerjerrod allowed himself a single dissonant, unbecoming thought: he had lied directly to Lord Vader, and lived."

If you don't remember who Jerjerrod is, here's a quick refresher:

I find this scene mesmerizing, for several reasons that I'll get into closer to the story's publication  – but for now, if you'd like to read more excerpts from the anthology, you can find one from each and every story gathered here, and you can pre-order the anthology here, or else into your local independent!

Promotional graphic for the launch of DEHISCENT, a book by Ashley Deng. A pale brown geometric border surrounds a maroon background with images of flowers and leaves, on top of which is the cover of DEHISCENT to the left, depicting the shadow of a feminine figure with a long ponytail against the façade of a colourful house. To the right of it are the words "Perfect Books presents DEHSICENT, Ashley Deng in conversation with Amal El-Mohtar and Suyi Davies Okungbowa, August 1st at 6:30 PM, 258A Elgin St, Ottawa, ON.

Finally, just a quick reminder that I'll be in Perfect Books today to chat about Dehiscent, Ashley Deng's shiny new novella. It's about a house haunting its inhabitants with abundance while they live in a difficult, ravaged-climate world, and it found its way into my dreams last night: radishes turned to mushrooms when I touched them, black walnuts ripened on the walls, and I kept trying and failing to feed people.

I'm excited to talk about it with Ashley and Suyi Davies Okungbowa, and I hope you'll join us!

Wishing you all the best this coming month,



  • If you haven't yet watched this perfect, perfect clip, I urge you to; and if you enjoy it, know that the full version is coming out August 22, and that DJ Crazy Times is a recurring character played by Kyle Gordon.
  • In a similar vein – this small miracle.
Saint Death's Daughter is a tumultuous, swaggering, cackling story, a gorgeous citrus orchard with bones for roots. Miscellaneous Stones’ journey into adulthood and power, sorting knowledge from wisdom and vengeance from justice, has an ocean’s breadth and depth, its storms and sparkles and salt. Soaring with love and absolutely fizzing with tenderness and joy--I have never read anything so utterly alive.