Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Witches were feared for their ability to affect natural phenomena. For people whose lives were staked upon whether crops would fail or succeed, the elements were a fearsome unknown. A cold snap could kill the harvest, or too much or too little rain. If power to affect these elements was in the hands of malevolent neighbors, who were assisted by the devil, well, they were to be hated. And executed.
In The Witch's Trinity, townspeople whose village has been famine-struck look about themselves wildly to find who has kept the fields barren. And thus the witch hunt begins.
Image is from Witchcraft in Europe 1100-1700 by Alan C. Kors and Peter Edwards
Going through some old paperwork tonight, I found a draft copy of my first novel with a completely different title on it—a name I had forgotten. You see, various attempts to position it as more of a mystery or less of a mystery had me and a former agent trying on different names. I don’t believe it ever went to an editor under the title “The Blood-Soaked Bonnet” (the title page I just unearthed), but it was submitted under “The China Silk Murders.” The book at that point had plot points surrounding a scrap of silk found clenched in one of the murdered women’s hands. My original title for the novel had been “Ill Fame,” and it was published earlier this year under the much-better expansion, “Woman of Ill Fame.”
Similarly, The Witch’s Trinity was named Hexe (the German word for witch). I loved this title and thought it could really lend itself to some gorgeous cover art. I was ultimately won over by arguments against this title (hard to pronounce! confusing!) and am pleased with what went to press. I’ve seen online reviews poke fun at it and say it is not a serious-enough title, but I like the fact that it makes more sense once you’ve read the book.
And let’s not even talk about my unpublished young adult novel that has had five titles…
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Welcome to any of you coming to this blog from across the big pond. My intent here is to continue to post witchcraft-related content for those who are interested in learning more. It's tough, though, during the holiday season, which for us stateside began in November with Thanksgiving.
During readings, people often ask me how the witch craze finally drew to a close. After all, why stop after four hundred years of persecution? That's got a lot of momentum.
There are many, interconnected and complex reasons for the witch craze coming to an end. One, that I'll quickly explore here, is the fact that they simply ran out of women. Literally, in a few cases: there were two German towns that were left with one woman each.
Can you imagine being that one woman?
In a more general sense, though, the villages and cities ran out of women who were stereotypically able to fulfill the role of witch. These would be women outside of society somehow: whether poverty-stricken, displaying mental health issues, or perhaps just outside the bounds of what was "normal" for a woman at this time--marrying and producing offspring. These women were easy to capture, interrogate and execute.
But when all those women are gone and the roving accusatorial eye then rested on women who were not the typical witchlike woman... women important to their society, who were married, linked with upright men of the community... well, then it became a little more unsettling. Instead of a self-righteous certainty that your village has executed a witch, you begin to be a little worried that she was actually innocent.
In Salem, Massachusetts, the witch hunts came to a fairly abrupt halt when the governor's own wife was accused.
There were of course many other facets to the closure of witchcraft (which actually is not a solidly-closed door--please see my previous post about the agonizing tragedy of young children in Africa facing accusations of witchcraft today) and I will touch on those in later posts.
Thanks for checking in!