Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Havelah McLat is an artist inspired by magic. Not just the kind of magic that comes through stories of enchantment and lore, but the magic that surrounds us on a daily basis, from the beauty of nature to the miracles happening even in times of great difficulty and grief.
Her work documents her faith, imagination, and the observations about the world that matter most to her.
I first met Havelah four years ago at a summer strawberry festival her church was hosting. She’d done beautiful drawings of various summertime scenes—sketches that portrayed the shine and texture of strawberries in vivid, up-close detail, children petting cows and sheep, the sun shining on pastures. I had to meet the artist behind them.
Over homemade strawberry shortcake, I discovered that Havelah was also a budding writer and that she needed an editor to assist with a children’s book she was creating. We have enjoyed a fruitful professional relationship and friendship ever since (pun unintended).
“When I shared my stories, [Kori] aided me with good suggestions and tips on how to flesh out the stories better. I like how she points out the areas where I need to improve,” Havelah said. As a fiction writer, Havelah’s storytelling takes many forms. She is the creator of the MiniTales Fairies, a tribe of fairies who dwell in Quail Hollow, a hidden world where anything can happen, from the coronation of a new fairy queen to the mystery of a stolen camera from the human world to adventures in the wild west.
More recently, she has delved into historical fiction, exploring real life events in ways that capture the emotions of the actual people involved. One stellar example is “The Promise,” an ambitious novella about three children from different backgrounds (Jewish, Gentile, and Roman) who all experience the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “I’ve always enjoyed writing fantasy stories,” Havelah said of her work. “But as I got older, I’ve begun to try different types of genres. But I do enjoy fantasy with some element of friendship or romance.”
Growing up on a farm in rural Ohio, Havelah had no shortage of talent in her large family of seven siblings. Evenings were full of jam sessions, with the large group enjoying each other’s musical gifts. However, it didn’t take long for Havelah to discover her own creativity in the form of art and writing.
By the time she was thirteen, she was already honing her talent for drawing and crafting short stories to go along with her illustrations. Practice, dedication, and habit all have shaped Havelah’s unique artistic style, but it was the discovery of new authors and the study of their craft that truly helped her to mature as a writer. She counts Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series and Walking on Water among her influences, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia and other books by C.S. Lewis. With both authors representing the rich tradition of fantasy literature, their work aided in helping her develop her stories, as well as find her own place in a genre she loves.
More importantly, Lewis and L’Engle have helped her clearly define a vital facet of her work: the relationship between her Christian faith and her identity as a fantasy author. Many Christians reject fantasy because of perceived relationships between magic and the occult. However, Havelah believes that while some fantasy writing fits this description, the total rejection of the genre is unfounded. “As Christians, we should know what we stand for in our faith and that includes being able to see the good and evil in stories,” she explains. “I believe God can use the gift of writing fantasy in amazing ways. God has used series like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to change people’s lives and lead them to Him.”
In her fantasy writing, Havelah takes a realistic approach to magic, mining the world around her for the miraculous evidence of God’s creation. In her MiniTales Fairies stories, the fairies operate amidst the changing of the seasons, and the characters’ chief task is to care for the living creatures and the world around them. “I want readers to know that we don't need magic to change seasons. In reality, God created the world and gave us the responsibility to make our earth healthier and care for nature,” she said.
Most recently, Havelah has tackled a new challenge with her fairies: creating a retelling of a beloved classic. In 2018, she discovered the Broadway adaption of the 1998 animated film Anastasia. She became fascinated by the rise and fall of the Romanov dynasty, as well as the mythology behind the theory that Anastasia, one of the daughters, may have survived the family’s execution.
To create her own fresh adaptation of Anastasia, she retold the story using her fairy characters to represent the historical figures. The result is a tale that emphasizes the wonder and magic of Anastasia’s story, and is a must read for anyone who loves the history, movie, or musical centered around her life.
Having self-published three of her stories as ebooks, Havelah is passionate about artists taking control of their visions by directly sharing their work with an audience. However, she is currently at work on a novel that she hopes to market to a traditional publisher. She ultimately believes that both avenues are valuable for writers who aspire to publish their creations and that “you can always start one way or another.”
Like all writers, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought Havelah many life challenges. However, it has also inspired her to dig into her writing in new ways using her extra time. While it has been a generally fruitful time for her creatively, she also recognizes that many writers may be experiencing discouragement, unable to create due to stress or intense emotions.
“I understand if you are feeling far from reaching your goals,” she tells struggling authors. “I feel the same way. But don’t let it stop you. Things may seem bad, but you are not alone. I encourage you to keep on writing and continue pursuing your dreams. You’ve got this—we can beat this.”
Havelah’s ebooks, MiniTales Fairies: A Western Rescue, Key to a Journey: A Retelling of a Classic, and The Promise, are available at her website, www.havelahmclat.com, as well as Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and iBooks. Her work has also been featured in two books, The Forthcoming Anthology, published by The Writer’s Group of Akron, Ohio, and There is Us, an anthology put together by independent authors worldwide to help with COVID-19 relief efforts.
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