On the Drawing Board

The "Jook" in "Conjure Woman's Cat

Magical Realism & Contemporary Fantasy

"She arrived on Rosebud, her red Schwinn Phantom with baskets and bells. The baskets carried a black purse, a sack of potatoes, two canning jars of pole beans, and a smoked ham in a stockinette. She was singing, talking a song under her breath really, called 'The Blues What I Am.' My Conjure Woman always told folks she knew the blues in spades because so many people brought them to her door."

OCLC Number: 933299525

Conjure Woman's Cat features a "jook" (that rhymes with "took") where people went to drink, dance, and listen to the blues and boogie woogie. The word "jook" is sometimes written as "Joot," "juke" or "juke-joint."

Here's folklorist Kristin G. Congdon's definition: "Generally refers to an African American gathering place where singing, dancing, game-playing, and storytelling occur, but in Florida it can also refer to taverns primarily occupied by whites. The word "juke" comes from the Gullah-Geechie Blacks of South Georgia and South Carolina and means 'disorderly.' Often questionable liquor was served, gambling took place, and fights broke out. In the 1930s, "joot" was used to refer to any kind of African American gathering that brought people together from neighboring settlements. It could be a simple dance or card or dice came for young people."

Here's a handy link for those who want to learn more about conjure, how it differs from Voodoo, some of the spells and practices, and related herbs:


Malcolm R. Campbell Conjure Woman's Cat

Conjure Woman's Cat

I'm writing a sequel to Conjure Woman's Cat. With luck, it will be released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing this fall.  Once again, it features Eulalie, Lena, and Willie Tate, along with an evil root doctor named Washerwoman. It seems that men are disappearing and their homes are being foreclosed upon and then torn down.

The manuscript was sent to my publisher September 16. Now it's time to talk about cover art, the book's official description, editing and proofreading. However, as I wrote in a September 17th blog post, I always feel at loose ends when I finish a book.

"The story is set in the Florida panhandle in the 1950s in a society dominated by racism, and tackles the serious issues of white violence, rape, day-to-day prejudice and mother/daughter relationships. This is a book that packs a lot into its 166 pages. Despite this bleak subject matter the book is beautifully written, allowing this Brit a vision of a place which the author knows well and clearly loves. The contrast of the natural beauty highlights the ugliness of human behaviour." - Zoe Brooks' Magical Realism Blog

“The novella’s tone and themes are similar in many ways to To Kill a Mockingbird, but with a heavy dose of magical realism. The story is engaging, with complex and believable characters, but I found it at least as fascinating as an account of traditional Southern black culture.” – Into the Wonder

“I found the characters well defined, believable, and they fit into the era the book was written to be in. Eulalie claims to be older than dirt, is full of gumption and spitfire. She has had a hard life and won’t take guff from anyone and she means to set things right.” – Big Al’s Books and Pals

Amazon Author's Page

A novella about a conjure woman named Eulalie and a black cat named Lena who make magic in the piney woods near the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle.

She knew candles and she knew spells, and she knew the purpose of every plant in the piney woods including Whortleberry, Golden Seal, and John the Conquerer. Hoodoo in Eulalie's hands was a powerful force to be reckoned with. Folks crossed her at their peril.

The Klan didn't know what it was up against.