Leigh Goff

Young Adult Author

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Disenchanted-The Power of White Magic

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In my novel, DISENCHANTED, sixteen-year-old Sophie, a white witch, has to learn a little bit about the exotic plants from her quirky aunt’s enchanted garden. During my research for this part of the novel, I discovered a lot of interesting applications for the everyday and not-so-everyday plants around us. Below are a few that will appear in the book.

Devil’s Bit– A small purple meadow flower and a good source of nectar, which Sophie applies to her lips everyday to help her lie (this only works for Wethersfield witches), because when you’re a witch in a small, Puritanical town, you need a little help blending in with the ordinaries.

White Willow Bark– A natural anti-inflammatory and hemorrhoid reliever–in powder form, of course.  Sophie jokingly wants to apply it all over Zeke Mather, Alexavier’s taunting older brother.

Munstead Lavender– Sophie’s pillow is filled with the summery scent to help her sleep through her haunted dreams, but lavender can’t compete with the tenacity of a four-hundred-year-old witch’s spirit.

Calendula/Chickweed– Combined in a teabag, cooled, and applied to Sophie’s eyes, this powerful anti-inflammatory reduces puffiness from her sleepless nights.

Annatto– Wards off evil and eases stomach distress, but this natural pigment from achiote seed pods also tints Sophie’s teeth orange which does little to impress the glitterati who already think she’s weird.

Lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals– The fragrant combination brings lovers together and, as Sophie inhales the perfumed scent, her bad boy love interest, who happens to be her family’s enemy and devastatingly handsome with a to-die-for British accent, enters the scene.

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Medieval European Castle? Nope!


As soon as my eyes roved over this American gem, I immediately knew it was the perfect setting for a coven’s castle in an upcoming novel.

Gillette Castle was designed by the late William Gillette, an American actor, engineer, and railroad enthusiast. It is now owned by the Connecticut state government and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Besides its haunting and distinctive exterior design, the extraordinary amenities within are what make this castle worthy to be a setting in a well-spun tale. The door knobs are unique along with all forty-seven hand-carved wooden door locks, which were designed by Mr. Gillette. He also employed hidden mirrors for surveillance of the main rooms.  Very mischievous of you, Mr. Gillette!


Outside the castle walls, he installed 3.2 miles of railroad to showcase his estate and its fantastic views of the Connecticut River and a few years ago, a steam locomotive was charmingly restored and returned to the property to the delight of visitors.

Gillette Castle is only a thirty minute drive from Wethersfield, one of my favorite historic towns and the setting for my debut novel, Disenchanted.

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Ghostly Insane Asylum


As a writer, I am inspired by my surroundings, particularly when I am driving around town, noticing mundane events, camouflaged buildings, and obscure fields dappled with wild flowers and honeysuckles that could tickle the ankles of my fictional characters sneaking off to share love’s first kiss.

On the outskirts of Annapolis, there is a particular set of intriguing buildings built over a century ago on farmland where Maryland tobacco once drained the earth of its vitality–the red-brick Crownsville Hospital Center, a hospital for the insane. Beyond the lush green grounds and the prim building exteriors of white porticoes and Greek columns, tortured patients died and ghost stories were born.  For decades, the ghost stories have run rampant around town, inspiring my imagination of what happened beyond the imposing admissions building.

A cemetery rests behind the conservative Georgian-style architecture, holding tight to its guests and their secrets, displaying only hundreds of flat, weathered headstones bearing numbers to mark the ill-fated patients who died from shock therapy, botched lobotomies, and tuberculosis during their stay.

When I look at the photo of the building, a ghost itself, with craggy broken windows and peeling white paint, I see the nameless faces–comatose faces of the newly admitted patients staring out. I hear the squeaking of old-fashioned wheelchairs as white coats push them down the long, white-tiled corridors to their bleak, white-walled rooms. They’re in there. Their whispers linger on the wind that seeps into my car as I drive by. I hear them and I want to toss my sweet, little protagonists in there with them. So don’t be surprised if you read about a certain haunted, decrepit detention center called Kingshill in Disenchanted where a ghostly hospital guest creeps up on my little witch, Sophie.