Tell me you haven’t yawned during History class.
We all have. Even me.
But I have to admit there’s something positively thrilling about DIGGING through the past and retelling it. I tend to think of historical fiction as “Literary Archaeology”—uncovering and bringing to light information for new eyes and ears to make sense of it, interpret it, to pass it on.
Like any project, I opened my laptop and began to Google, taking notes, aiming for the areas of interest I had in my mind: Southwestern Bavaria, 1600’s, witch hunts. What I didn’t expect was to become so completely immersed in the horror of that time period. Mind you, I knew my book would be dark, haunting even. But as I unraveled the past, intent on providing authenticity to the story I knew I would tell, I never quite expected to be drawn in so deeply.
What I uncovered was a world so incredibly DIFFERENT than our own—yet it mirrored our current society to such a degree that made me realize the past oftentimes comes full circle. Did you know German witch hunts started the original frenzied wave of persecution? Did you realize hundreds upon hundreds of women and children, even men in high standing, were condemned? That in one city alone, 60,000 people were convicted of witchcraft? It’s mind-blowing and it began with pointing fingers and placing blame, and grew very ugly very quickly. Does this sound like modern-day bullying? I think so.
Beyond the staggering numbers, my story required much more if it were to accurately retell what life
Notes upon notes upon notes . . . and never once did I yawn. (My teachers would be proud.)
My advice on retelling the past? Become the past. Absorb it. Read and research. Print pictures and leave images around to help pull that time into NOW. Imagine your life as it would have been back then and add your voice. You’ll find, I’m certain, that the past isn’t so different from today.
FOREST OF WHISPERS is a 17th century Bavarian witch mystery published by Spencer Hill Press. It is a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Award Winner and is available at booksellers nationwide, including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Indie Bound.