Welcome back to the blog tour for How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.
I've always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials since reading The Crucible, and was thrilled that I got the chance to pick Adriana's brain on what it means to be a Mather, and how she hoped to convey that legacy in her book.
Read on for more + a giveaway!
A guest post from Adriana Mather:
Author of How to Hang a Witch
Knopf Books for Young Readers, July 2016
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today! You've mentioned in your authors notes, that it's still a strange legacy to be a Mather in a place like Salem.
How did you channel that feeling into writing your story- it at all? ? Was there any specific influence - e.g. did you ever think: Okay. I want to change the legacy of the Mather name with this story - a la Nathaniel Hawthrone?
Or was it more of a I want you to understand who the Mather name is now?
While researching Cotton and the Trials, I attempted to locate an 1890’s out-of-print genealogy book. And funny enough, the only bookstore that would reprint it for me was in Salem, Massachusetts. So, off I went. I arrived on a gray and rainy day in July - my birthday. Only the bookstore didn’t look like a bookstore. It was an old estate with an iron-spire fence. I stood on the stoop for a good minute wondering if I had made a mistake with the address before tentatively knocking.
The door jolted open by a few inches and a woman peered out at me. I mumbled how I was looking for a book. She flung the door open, revealing not a typical store, but an almost empty house with staircases that stopped and started at random. Stacks of books lined the walls and filled the bookcases. And she casually mentioned how the place was haunted and people would camp out on her lawn overnight on Halloween.
The woman took one look at my name on the order form and told me in no uncertain terms that my last name wasn’t very popular in Salem. I was intrigued. Was I a historical villain of sorts in Salem if nowhere else? In that moment I knew I needed to know more. That Salem was too interesting a setting not to write about. I didn’t I want to alter the Mather legacy; I wanted to understand it. Learn from it. What had changed over the past three hundred years and what had stayed the same? Were witchcraft accusations still happening, even by another name?
My aim with HOW TO HANG A WITCH was to bring the Witch Trial history to present day with a pinch of magic and a good old-fashioned mystery. I paralleled the historical hanging of a witch with modern day bullying. There was no better way to do that than to use a fictional Mather descendant and a handful of accused witch descendants (who also bear the name of their ancestors).
I now make it a point to go to Salem a few times a year, walk the old brick sideways pushed up by tree roots, and enjoy the ancient architecture. I know my way around so well now that I could have a back up career as a tour guide. Buuut, even I avoid the graveyards in the dark…because you just never know.
About the book:
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.
Amazon | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads
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