People often ask me which is of my books is my personal favorite. I usually answer with the one I’m writing now. That is the truth, mainly because that is the story I’m most focused on, however, each book has something special about it. Whether it’s how the story came to be, the research behind it, a character that reminds me of someone, etc. etc. Saving Marina, which will be released February 1st, is no different. This book is special because of my family history.
I’d heard for years that there were ‘witches’ in our ancestry, but didn’t think much about it. All families have ‘skeletons in the closet’ and tidbits that may have grown into ‘wives’ tales’ over the years. It wasn’t until my son was exploring Ancestry.com and told me that my eight times great grandmother was arrested as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials that I took a deeper note of all those family stories, and the Salem Witch Trials.
During that tremulous time, which lasted less than a year, fear engulfed many communities, and along with that came self-preservation. People accused others of witchcraft in order to simply protect themselves. There are many theories behind the witch trials. Some I read amazed me, others were staggering, and then there are those that, although incredulous, seem understandable considering the time period and the beliefs and ways of life back then.
My ancestor’s name was Elizabeth Dicer, and though I dug up as much material on her as I could, there isn’t much. It seems she was arrested after accusing several others of being a witch—which wasn’t uncommon. From my understanding, it was late in the year when she was imprisoned, and cold. Her son-in-law, whose name was Richard Tarr, (my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Tarr, and Richard would have been her several times great grandfather) petitioned the courts to release not only Elizabeth, but several others because they would never survive the cold winter in the jail which had no heat. Just the previous month, The Court of Oyer and Terminer, which had been specifically created to try accused witches, had been overturned, or dissolved, by the Superior Court of Judicature which specifically outlawed the use of spectral evidence in any of the hearings. Richard obtained Elizabeth’s release by paying her bail and promising to return her to the courts for a set upon hearing date the following spring. Between the date of her release and trail date, additional changes and orders came about which led to the end of the accusations and trails, therefore Elizabeth, as well as several others, never needed to return. A few years later, monetary reparations and public apologies were granted to some families for false proof and wrongful deaths.
Although I used my family history and Richard Tarr’s name in my story, I did not use Elizabeth’s premise. Marina, my heroine, has her own reason for believing she is a witch.
I certainly enjoyed writing a story set during the Salem Witch Trials, and had lots of fun writing a series set during the Roaring Twenties, but westerns will always remain my favorites. Both to read and write. I’m excited to share I’ll have three of those released in 2016. April will bring Western Spring Weddings, an anthology including my story, When a Cowboy Says I Do. June will bring Her Cheyenne Warrior. My November title is yet to be determined, but it is a Christmas tale set in Colorado.
So…is there an old wives tale in your family that has proven true?