Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Deliverance from Evil by Frances Hill
Writing Deliverance from Evil was like coming home. After working as a journalist for many years I had in the 1980s published two novels and hoped my future as a writer lay in fiction. But then unexpectedly I found myself writing a non-fiction book about the Salem witch trials. It had happened because when I visited Salem in 1992 I discovered there was, amazingly, no good, accurate popular history of this fascinating episode; I strongly wished to fill the gap. The result was A Delusion of Satan, The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials, published by Doubleday in the US in 1995 and Hamish Hamilton in the UK in 1996. That book led, as a result in the first two cases of suggestions by publishers and in the third to my desire to express my strong conviction about the dangerous folly of war with Iraq, to three other non-fiction books, The Salem Witch Trials Reader (2000), Hunting for Witches, (2002) and Such Men Are Dangerous, The Fanatics of 1692 and 2004, (2004). After that I thought I had finished with the witch trials.
But the urge had been gradually growing to flesh out some of the characters and events of this tantalisingly elusive, though so well documented, episode, in fiction. In particular I felt I wanted to explore the personality and experience of a man who played a pivotal part but is far less well known that characters such as John Proctor, John Danforth and Rebecca Nurse. He was a charismatic Puritan minister who became one of those falsely accused. I had become fascinated by him during my research because of his intelligence, courage, wit and even, I confess, looks: he was "dark like an Indian," according to one of the contemporary sources, short but lithe and extremely stong, clearly highly attractive to women. I realised I wanted to explore George Burroughs' tragic but inspiring story in a way only possible by adding imagination and invention to patient reading and research.
When I began to do so, I found it thrilling to be writing fiction again, with George Burroughs and my other characters coming to life under my hands, beginning to make their own moves, speak their own lines, see through their own eyes . . .
Thanks to my American publisher, Overlook, Deliverance from Evil is blessed with a wonderful cover. It has now also been published, with the same cover, in the UK by Duckworth.
I have nearly finished another historical novel, this time not based on research for previous non-fiction works but again for the most part on historical characters. As every novelist knows, the joy of such creation is like no other.
Deliverance from Evil is available from amazon.com in the US and amazon.co.uk in the UK and from bookstores in both countries.
My website is www.franceshill.net