Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Familiars Throughout History by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

Let's welcome the authors of The Familiars, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson for a guest post today! *applause*

Familiars are the animal companions to a wizard or witch. They are mentioned several times in the Bible, from Deuteranomy to Leviticus. Shakespeare's Macbeth had them, too. Familiars were common in Europe during the Middle Ages, and could be seen in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. They existed in popular culture since the 1800s. The earliest and most recognizable of these magical assistants were the black cats of a witch. You’ve seen them on Halloween posters rubbing up against the leg of a woman dressed in black. Surely you are aware of some of the more famous familiars, like Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig, or Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, or Merlin’s owl, Archimedes. Disney’s animated films added many more familiars to the lore, including Jafar’s parrot, Iago, Ursula’s eels, Floatsam and Jetsam, or Maleficant’s crows.

One thing in common with all of these depictions was that familiars always seemed to be sidekicks, relegated to the background, never having their own story. We decided to take a traditional fantasy world, one whose conventions were at once familiar and recognizable, and shift the perspective to that of the animals. For the first time, the adventure would rest on the shoulders of the familiars. The mythology of familiars is one that in many ways had yet to be explored. Where did they come from? How did they get their magical powers? Do they even have magical powers? How are they linked to their witch or wizard? All of these were questions that we were curious about, and questions that we strove to answer. We hope that readers will never look at their family pet the same way after reading this book, perhaps wondering if they too possess some kind of magic.

Who’s your favorite familiar? And what kind of magical power do you imagine your family pet has? Please comment here or swing by our blog,

You can learn more about “The Familiars” at

Meet the authors, or check out the book trailer for The Familiars here:

ADAM JAY EPSTEIN spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, while ANDREW JACOBSON grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the two met in a parking garage out in Los Angeles. They have been writing for film and television together ever since. The Familiars  is their first book.

One day, Adam asked Andrew, “Are you familiar with what a familiar is?” And from that simple question, Vastia was born, a fantastical world filled with the authors’ shared love of animals and magic. They wrote every word, sentence, and page together, sitting opposite each other.

Adam Jay Epstein lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jane, their daughters, Penny and Olive, and a black-and-white alley cat who hangs out in their backyard. Andrew Jacobson lives with his wife, Ashley, and their dog, Elvis, four traffic lights away.

THE FAMILIARS will be produced for film by Sam Raimi and Sony Animation.


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