On Tuesday, my book club had the privilege of chatting with Author Kathleen Kent about her debut novel THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER. Thanks to Val at Hachette Books for setting it up!
Being that Kathleen is in Texas and my book club is in Germany, we did the chat over speakerphone. Kathleen is an extremely engaging and enthusiastic speaker and she told us some interesting stories. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Kathleen grew up knowing that Martha Carrier (the “heretic” of the book’s title) was her grandmother to the 9th generation and heard stories all her life about the Carrier family and the Salem witch trials.
- Salem in the late 1600s was a village in crisis. Contrary to the pious, Victorian image we have of it, Salem was actually more Elizabethan in character and a “hotbed of misdeeds”.
- Those tried as witches were often “ferocious women” who fell outside the margins of what a woman “should be”, such as the insane, midwives who had lost too many children, and outspoken, strong-willed women like Martha.
- Town folk claimed that the Carriers must be witches because their cow gave golden milk. But if you feed a cow pumpkin, like the Carriers did, it will produce a sweeter milk that is golden in color. Try it out for yourself!
- The “red book” that Martha buried for her daughter Sarah in the novel is a literary device. Kathleen got the idea from a court transcript of Sarah’s trial in which Sarah claimed she became a witch because “My mother put my hands on the red book.” The red book is a symbol of the family’s history and its content will finally be revealed in Fall 2010 when the prequel is released.
- The prequel concerns the life of Martha’s husband Thomas Carrier before he came to America. He is rumored to have been one of the executioners of King Charles I of England, and according to Benjamin Franklin’s paper “Poor Richard” of 1735, he was 7 ft tall and lived to the ripe old age of 109.
If your book club might be interested in a chat with Kathleen, you can send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about THE HERETICS DAUGHTER at Kathleen’s website.