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‘Motherland: Ft. Salem’s’ Eliot Laurence interview: Of witches and wars

Motherland: Ft Salem is one of the most interesting shows on television. The Freeform supernatural drama is about a group of young witches going through training in order to defend the country. AIPT spoke with creator Eliot Laurence about the new show.

AIPT: How would you describe Motherland: Ft Salem?

Eliot Laurence: The show imagines an alternate America where one of the Salem witches cut a deal with the Massachusetts Bay Militia – freedom from persecution in exchange for winning the budding nation’s wars. Over 300 years later, when you’re a witch in this strange America, you conscript at 18. The show follows three young witches through basic training and beyond.

AIPT: What was your inspiration behind the story?

Laurence: A long time obsession with the occult and the desire to emulate my heroes… writers like Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood whose speculative fiction tackles bigger human problems.

AIPT: The series has a Young Adult slant but it deals with some mature themes, such as
patriotism. What do you want viewers to take away from the show?

Laurence: I want viewers to experience duty to country from a young, female perspective.

AIPT: There is a lot going on in Motherland: Ft. Salem. It is a coming of age story, but it also deals with magic, gender roles, and has a sense of humor. What is the most challenging part of the
show?

Laurence: Probably balancing all those tones… and not info-dumping too much world-building into the dialogue… giving the viewer just enough to put stuff together themselves.

AIPT: The series has mainly been at the academy, but the premise opens itself up for a lot of
lore. Would you be willing to take the story to other mediums like books?

Laurence: I originally tried to do this as a novel series, so YES!  I’m very excited to spread the world out into other forms… right now I’m thinking about some graphic novels.

AIPT: Motherland: Ft Salem has an almost toned down vibe compared to many stories involving witches.
Was it a conscious decision to go this route or was it a product of making the show?

Laurence: It was a creative decision. This is the military, not Hogwarts. I wanted things to feel muddy, gritty and real. I want the magic in the show to feel hard to do – they don’t say ‘magic’ in the show, they refer to it as ‘work.’

AIPT: Some episodes of Motherland: Ft. Salem can get pretty gory. Do you ever worry about going too far?

Laurence: I want to keep a healthy strain of horror running through the show. I also think gore is part of life and death stakes, so it makes sense to me.

AIPT: What does the future hold for the show?

We don’t know anything yet about our future, but I keep dreaming of a Civil War… and then a World War to end all Wars..


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