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Q&A with Deborah Harkness, USC Prof and Author of 'A Discovery of Witches'

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Deborah Harkness reading in Torrance tomorrow night. | Photo Marion Ettlinger
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USC history professor Deborah Harkness has published a number of academic papers and historical nonfiction books, including The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution and John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy and the End of Nature. Last week, however, she ventured into the world of fiction with the publication of her first novel: A Discovery of Witches.

The book is a wonderful mix of history, magic and romance that focuses on Diana Bishop, the last witch in a line of a family of powerful witches. She's trying to pass as a human history professor (coincidence?) who wants nothing to do with her lineage or magic. That is, until she meets the dashing Matthew Clairmont, a fellow academic at Oxford, who happens to be a vampire. The two begin on a journey that will span centuries over the course of three books. Her next book is due out next year.

We did a quick Q&A with Harkness as she crisscrosses the country on her book tour and asked her a few questions about A Discovery of Witches and her life in LA.

LAist: This is a wonderful debut novel. How and why did you decide on making the transition from the academic/nonfiction realm to a fictional world of vampires, witches and daemons?

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It wasn't really a decision, but an unplanned adventure. In the fall of 2008, I wondered if there really were vampires, what would they do for a living, and soon I was writing a novel.