Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Curses, Inc. and Other Stories
Ages: 12 & up
Publisher: Harcourt
Book Description:

Ten stories of enchantment.


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Where do you GET those ideas?
Activities/Discussion Guide
More Stuff


* "This compelling collection features confident storytelling and surprise endings...This will be a hot choice for YAs and can be easily booktalked off the shelves." -- School Library Journal (starred review)


  • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
  • IRA Young Adults' Choice
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

Where do you GET those ideas?

A 4th grader at Twelve Corners School had provided me with a title I loved, "A Witch's Stew." I tried to use that title for one collection of short stories, which my editor, Jane Yolen, suggested we call Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird instead. "No witches," she pointed out about that collection.

But I still liked that title. All I needed to do was write a bunch of stories about witches and spells.

The trouble was Jane Yolen didn't like that title for this book, either. "Too young," she said, and renamed the book after one of the stories, Curses, Inc.

For the next several books I wrote, I didn't even bother trying to come up with a title before I submitted the book to Harcourt; I just called them things like "A Book Not To Be Called a Witch's Stew" or "A Ghost's Stew."

I never did get to name a book "A Witch's Stew."

But that's the name of the tavern in Magic Can Be Murder.

And it's the name of one of the games Giannine chooses not to play in Heir Apparent. (Editor Michael Stearns suggested adding the line, "It sounded like a dorky game anyway," but I edited that line right back out of there.)


(from "The Witch's Son")

"Among your father's books of medicine," Hugh's mother said, "which were passed down to him by his father and his father before him, were very old papers. Recipes. Mixtures." There was no use mincing words. He knew it wasn't medicines that had brought him back to life. "Spells. This one could only work..." Her voice caught for a moment, and she finished, "...once a year."

Hugh accepted all that. He asked, instead of any of the other questions he could have asked, "Where is Father?"

"He died," she answered as gently as anyone could give that answer, "after surviving the war for independence, in a riding mishap."

Hugh wrapped his arms around himself. "Can you do this--for him?"

She shook her head.

"You brought me back."

"Because you died here," she said. "I had your blood."

Activities/Discussion Guides

Click here for printer-ready Activities/Discussion Guide

More Stuff

  • To hear me read "Past Sunset" from Curses, Inc. check out this video.


First paperback edition cover

Foreign editions:


          Indonesia                           Italy   



Other covers by Tristan Elwell:


To see more of Tristan Elwell's work, visit his website.


The story "Cypress Swamp Granny" also appears in the anthology A Nigtmare's Dozen.


(hardcover and paperback)


The story "Lost Soul" also appears in the anthology A Wizard's Dozen.


(hardcover and paperback)


The story "Past Sunset" also appears in Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers.

 (only available in paperback)