The first thing you should know is that I’m a witch. A real witch. It’s not my fault, I was born this way.
The second thing is: I have a vintage clothes store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood — the sort of quirky, crazy place where even a witch like me fits in.
When I get up in the morning I often decide what to wear by looking through the biggest walk in closet in town — I get to choose from my own vintage clothing inventory! Since I live right above the shop – called Aunt Cora’s Closet — it makes it easy. Presuming I can find something that fits, that is.
And then I go to work, right downstairs.
In many ways I’m like any other merchant on Haight Street: I fill the cash register, clean my windows, straighten my racks of clothing and shelves of scarves and gloves, and generally make sure we’re ready for the day. But then I do a little extra: I cast a protection spell over the store. I sprinkle saltwater widdershins while saying a quick incantation, then smudge sage deosil, and light a white candle on the counter.
I’ve cast such a spell ever since I’ve owned the place, but I’m more careful about it now than ever…because although I meant to keep a low profile in San Francisco, I was “outed” as a witch not long after I arrived. And even though I’ve only been in town for several months, I’ve been involved in several supernatural episodes — sometimes involving witchcraft and demons, but always including very human murder. Even the SFPD has asked for my help. It’s enough to give a witch like me pause.
After prepping, I usually go on down to a favorite local cafe, called Coffee to the People. As its name suggests, it’s a leftover from the neighborhood’s hippie heyday and I love its funky, earnest style. I buy drinks and bagels for Oscar — my ersatz witch’s familiar — and for Conrad, the young man who lives on the street and occupies the curb outside my shop. Conrad watches over my place, sweeps and helps me with occasional loads of clothes, and I make sure he has breakfast every day. As for Oscar, he’s really a little creature who’s a cross between a gargoyle and a goblin — I don’t like to think about it too much — who transforms into a miniature Vietnamese potbellied pig when he’s around non-witchy humans. He likes his garlic bagels with cream cheese, jalapeno, and avocado. Makes for interesting breath.
After breakfast I tend to customers. I have a real knack for knowing what kind of style would look good on someone. Of course, I have a little magical help: I can sense vibrations in the clothing and, if I concentrate, can usually get a feel for my customers. People don’t realize how what they wear can affect them: sometimes when you “change” your clothes, you change in other ways as well: your attitude, your outlook, your way of moving through the world.
My employees, Bronywn and Maya, join me at some point during the day. Maya is young and brilliant, an art student who is also collecting oral histories from elders in the community. She’s helpful in many ways, not the least of which is with technology…I’m an old school witch; I don’t even carry a cell phone. Bronwyn has an herbal stand in one corner of the store, but she also helps with the never-ending jobs of taking care of incoming clothes, arranging things neatly on racks and shelves, and tending to customers. Bronwyn is such a wide-open, smiley, full of life person that everyone is happy to be around her. She’s the kind of person who, if someone said they didn’t like her, I would suspect them of having something seriously wrong.
On the other hand, plenty of people don’t like little old me. Case in point: recently I attended the Art Deco Ball — an incredible showcase of vintage fashions — with Aidan Rhodes, the self-appointed “Godfather” of the Bay Area witchcraft community. While I was there a young woman fell under a terrifying sleeping spell, Aidan ditched me, and now I’m making myself very unpopular by asking too many questions and investigating local covens to find out just who might be dabbling in the dark arts and deadly botany…
Join me In A Witch’s Wardrobe to find out what happens!
** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends July 21. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **
Meet the author
Juliet Blackwell is the NYT bestselling author of the Haunted Home Renovation mystery series (If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt) and of the National Bestselling Witchcraft mystery series (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, and IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE, coming July 3). As Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series, including Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. A former anthropologist, artist, and social worker, Juliet served as two-term president for Northern California Sisters in Crime. Visit Juliet at www.julietblackwell.net; Facebook; and Twitter. And please stop by my blog.