We had the pleasure of speaking with Eliot Laurence, the creator and showrunner of “Motherland: Fort Salem” yesterday about his inspiration for the show and what fans can expect going forward. His love of everything involving witches from an early age made creating a show about witches a dream project for him!
Q: When did you first come up with the idea for the story? Were there any specific inspirations?
A: A long term obsession with anything witch related! Ever since I was a little kid I would watch any witchy movie or TV show. When I became a writer, I became involved in dark comedy, but I always wanted to do something supernatural. I thought, “what if you did a witch show? Like Gossip Girl, but a witchcraft school in Manhattan?” But that idea has been done, so when the military idea came, the whole idea came together really fast. What if there was really a witch in Salem? But what if instead of being rounded up to be burned or tried, they were weaponized and volunteering was a heroic act? The what if’s kept going. It was a long labor of love.
Q: So far there’s been a good balance between the magical and physical aspects to the witches combat. Will we see more physical combat and fight scenes?
A: OH YES! That ramps up a lot around episode 8. I like that distinction between magical and physical, because I wanted it to be very grounded in that way. That’s why they don’t refer to what they do as magic. It’s “work.” It’s hard and not twinkly or glowy. It’s hard for the witches to do what they do. I wanted to show fantasy through a science fiction lens.
Q: Was there an inspiration behind the Spree?
A: I knew I wanted to have a baddie; we needed a nemesis. The way I imagined this world, the US witch army is not the only witch army. Other nations found their witches and created witch armies too, so they’re locked into intense mutually assured destruction. It’s a Cold War, tense, arms-racey type vibe. So we wanted there to also be an idealogical enemy. An idea of a militarist terrorist group that were opposed to governments owning bodies of witches. Their methods are horrifying, but they have a point.
Q: Where did the idea of the balloon as a symbol of the Spree come from?
A: Not “It” – this idea was 8-9 years in the making before the movies came out! We needed a Spree weapon, and because they can contain a sound in the balloon that required oxygen, it worked. It’s a reinvention of the concept of a suicide bomb.
Q: We have seen several types of witches already – fixers, seers, necromancers, etc. Are there any other types of witches we’ll see introduced in the future?
A: Absolutely! And a bit more of the Spree’s magic as well. If we’re lucky enough to continue in the series, there’s a whole new chapter coming. After basic training, we see what’s next.
Q: Were you surprised/pleased by the fan reaction to Raelle and Scylla?
A: I love it. I’m not on social media, but they’ve shown me some super positive stuff. People seem to be happy that it’s right in the first episode and we weren’t couching it. I wanted queerness in the show to not be such a big deal that you even have to name it. In this military subculture of witches, it’s a commonality. We put queerness right out front, but erase the classification of it entirely in this particular pocket world.
Q: Will we learn more about Scylla’s background and is there any confirmation on whether she is the same Spree that killed all the people in the mall in the beginning?
A: I don’t want to spoil anything, but towards the end of this season we will learn a lot more about Scylla. What are the conditions that make terrorism possible, or essential to some people? And humanizing that question. We will get deeper and deeper into why Scylla is who she is and why she made these choices.
Q: Fans are very enthusiastic about wanting a season two, any news on that or suggestions on how to make that happen?
A: Keep pushing for season two on social media! Noise on social media and all kinds of social engagement do make a difference. My favorite part, or response to the show, are the people who are obsessed already.
Let us know what you think of season one of Motherland: Fort Salem so far and what you’d like to see next!