My take on our apprentice's illustrious and magnanimous mentor
It's finally happening! I'm now well into the second volume of Welcome to Wis' Apothecary, and the story I've been looking forward to most is one which breaks the mold: a story from Wisteria's perspective. In fact, Isabel isn't present in the story at all. I'm really excited to finally be working on this tale, and of course, excited for you all to read it. So what better way to celebrate than with a post on the great witch herself?
Wisteria Amberfinch was born on Avrille 6th, growing up in the atelier of her coven, the Lilac Grove, somewhere outside Aramore. (Shoutout to the Flower City I currently call home!) She was a prodigy, and became one of the youngest witches in modern history by testing at the early age of 16. If you've read my book, you know usually an apprentice isn't allowed to test until 18, which speaks to her remarkable talent. She then went on to open the apothecary at just the age of 22, and that's where we find her with Isabel 15 years later.
(As with my last character bio, there are some light spoilers below)
@abundisart on Instagram! Credit to my talented illustrator
My favorite character
"I was drawn first to her eyes, which rested behind a pair of thin and stylish glasses. They were soft pools of purple that seemed to gaze at a different world than the rest of us. And her hair was a matching lavender, with ribbons of curls cascading past each shoulder, a pretty bow holding the rest of it loosely together at her back. Her hair reminded me of the vines for which she was named." - Welcome to Wis' Apothecary, Birthday Wish
You might assume that, because the stories are from Isabel's perspective, the loveable and endearing protagonist might be my favorite character. And with new, colorful characters introduced with almost every story, I'm a little reluctant to verbalize a favorite. Without a doubt, all my characters are very precious to me. But if you've been following my blog, then you know the truth. That is to say, Wis is actually my favorite.
The irony is, because the stories revolve around Isabel, we don't see as much of Master Wis as I'd like. As I've said before, Isabel needs to be able to grow without her teacher always being the catalyst, and much (but not all) of the actual teaching happens between stories. This means there's a lot the reader doesn't know about Wisteria come the end of book one, leaving a lot left to explore.
With that said, while there's a lot I'd love to say on the subject, there's not a lot I'm ready to share yet because I don't want to spoil any surprises. But let me tell you why I love Master Wis. It's not because she's a genius or ultra-powerful, but because in my mind, she's the ideal instructor. She's supportive, loving, and though she's firm when she needs to be, she'll always be there for her student.
When I think about my inspiration for Master Wis, I think of my own martial arts instructors who I deeply love and respect due to their strength, guidance and compassion. I wanted to create a character like that, and explore a wholesome and charming teacher-student relationship. We all have mentors we're beyond grateful for, and to me, Wisteria Amberfinch is the embodiment of that love.
Bewitching and Mysterious
"Typically, you could describe my teacher’s expression as carefree. Other times, it even seemed mysterious. But in that moment? She looked about the angriest I had ever seen her." - Welcome to Wis' Apothecary, You Can Count on Me
I don't want Master Wis to be your typical mary-sue character. As this beautiful, genius witch, that may seem like an easy trap to fall into. But she's complex, and has a complicated past. She's only so accomplished now because of the experiences and trials she had to overcome when she was younger. And though, in Isabel's eyes, she may appear to be this perfect and consummate witch, that's only because we're seeing her through the eyes of a child.
In reality, Wis isn't nearly as put together as she appears. She has fears, worries and her share of problems. And let's be honest, teaching someone as impetuous and spirited as Isabel can't be easy! So this is something I look forward to exploring more, and something I think Isabel will realize as she gets older and more experienced herself.
There's also just a lot Isabel doesn't know about her teacher. Wis isn't like her student, who is chatty and can make friends with just about everyone. She's more reserved, and there's a lot about her past that she's not ready to reveal to Isabel. Just because she's a genius witch doesn't mean everything was easy for her, and in fact, that actually created many challenges and difficulties. After becoming a witch, she faces an experience that drastically changes her life. And she spends some time traveling to heal and find herself, before ultimately opening the apothecary.
While she loves and deeply cares for Isabel, she's a bit guarded. This causes her to seem a bit aloof and mysterious, which I think also just comes with the territory. When I describe a gaze that seems to see a different world than everyone else, it's because she really does.
The ideal instructor
This is all to say, isn't she the perfect teacher for someone like Isabel? I mentioned in my previous post that Wis is something of a foil for her student in many ways. She's grounded and capable, which gives Isabel the freedom to be a bit irresponsible and make mistakes. And when coupled with the patience and understanding required of a teacher, this of course spurs on lots of growth for our protagonist.
Welcome to Wis' Apothecary is, at the end of the day, a coming-of-age story. So you need a strong mentor that's going to be there to help guide Isabel, and help her get back on her feet when she falls. That's why I love writing the two of them together so much, because that kind of love is so wholesome and authentic.
We expect to learn from our parents, our family and our friends. And while I don't know if I could ever be a teacher myself, I respect the profession because they aren't always family (at least, not at first). There's no reason a stranger has to share anything with you, much less their knowledge or expertise. So for someone to teach another, often completely transforming them and shaping their future... there's just something so visceral and pure about that.
Don't you agree? And while I hope you're able to walk away from my stories with your own favorite characters, you can now understand why Master Wis is so particularly special to me. Much will be revealed in book two, so please look forward to it! And who knows? With so much left to explore, maybe Wisteria Amberfinch will get her own spin-off some day.
Do you have a Wisteria Amberfinch in your life? Let me know in the comments, or tell me what you think about Master Wis' character. And to anyone who was ever taught me anything, thank you!! From the bottom of my heart. It's a very long list, but I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for each and every one of you.
Until next time, thanks for reading!