My Favorite Bit: Jordan Werner talks about THE WITCH AND THE OSTRICH

Jordan Werner is joining us today to talk about his book, The Witch and the Ostrich. Here’s the publisher’s description:

A newspaper-critic witch and a necromancer warlord turned into an ostrich scrounge for survival in the backwaters of an empire.

If that sounds like the setup to a joke, Quin might agree with you. Too bad she’s out of favor with the crown and with her witchly cohort.

Unfortunately Fergus, once Death Lord of Jocrom, has his own plans, and most of them involve getting back his powers and removing Quin’s spell on him.

Find out what happens in The Witch and The Ostrich by Jordan Werner!

What’s Jordan’s favorite bit?

Let’s see, my favorite bit, my favorite bit…this is difficult, because I’m not a favorites kinda guy. Favorite book, favorite ice cream, favorite whatever, I’ll demur. It’s something I’ve inherited from my old man. Blame him.

But if I guess if I had to pick anything about the book, it’s the scene where Quin writes her review. Well, it’s kind of a review, but not really. It’s the only part of the book that leans towards the epistolary, because the scene itself is portrayed through Quin’s writing, as opposed to later in the book where she writes for the sake of describing scenery.

What’s happening is Quin wants to write a story about a politician who has apparently been sent to die in a colosseum in Queensworth, an Incolfian city far away from the capital of Basdolon, her home. Quin hopes that by disguising this scoop as a first-person review of the show itself, she can sneak in a story about political corruption. Thereby restoring her career and seriously inconveniencing both her witchly senior whom she despises and the Queen they both serve.

Quin guides us through the gates to the colosseum, then introduces us to the bloodthirsty, randy crowd that’s come to watch the heads roll. She occasionally leaves some notes in the text, but otherwise paints a picture of the show that the Crescent gladiatorial arena puts on for the people of Queensworth. All while adding on a thick veneer of snark:

‘She plunged her hooked nails into the spots where each funbag met collarbone and flung out eight fanning trails of scarlet flecks. There was a sound like a cannon going off and the red spray snapped into a burst of flame. The crowd screeched itself raw, irreversibly hoarse.

“Who’s she?” I asked the round, crusty-bearded slob sitting next to me.

He looked at me like I’d just said the weather was controlled by a secret cabal of child-eating groundhogs. “She makes me rigid!” he said.

Well. How about that.’

Now that I’ve scared off a couple of readers, back to it.

The scene accomplishes a couple of things. It keeps the plot moving forward, it provides atmosphere, and it introduces us to Quin’s style of writing. It also reveals a little more about her as a witch, as she’s actually using her magical typewriter—sitting all the way back in her apartment in Basdolon—to write, which the eyeballing ticket-boy notices.

I worked on my high school and college newspapers, then after college, I contributed to two separate publications—a magazine and my local paper—until COVID hit. In school, I mostly reviewed movies and plays, then post-college, play reviews, interviews with people of interest, goings-on in the greater community, that sorta thing.

Bottom line, I have some experience there. Write what you know, as they say (though I would like to put out there that I don’t subscribe to the idea that you should ONLY write about things you’ve personally experienced).

I wanted to write a story about a witch who reviewed gladiator shows, because that was just fantastical enough to justify making the story a fantasy. I’ve also read and written some gonzo journalism, and so I decided to incorporate some threads of that too.

Granted, I didn’t do a ton of gonzo research before writing this segment. Mostly because I didn’t think it needed to be that in-depth, and I figured, “Hey, if I’m not super familiar with gonzo style, then this character who’s on her way to inventing it won’t either. Huzzah!” (Any accusations of laziness on my part would be totally justified.)

Oh, also. Of the two post-college publications I mentioned, one was a magazine that catered to a local religious community. Any time ‘God’ was mentioned, it was censored as ‘G-d.’ So I had Quin do that too, just to add a little skosh of flavor.

So this was my favorite bit, maybe because it was the truest bit.


Book Link




Jordan A. Werner is a Reddit-addicted bum who lives in the bowels of Southern California, just a way’s away from the beach. He was born in Salem, ate his first lost tooth with a burger in Baton Rouge and once aced a spontaneous Beatles trivia quiz from a Trader Joe’s bag clerk in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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