This week’s Flashback Friday: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
I first read this book in 6th grade. Assigned reading by the teacher, I wanted to read other things though admitted that the word witch in the title was intriguing. As a kid, I enjoyed horror flicks and spooky things so I thought this book was going to be about witches.
Imagine my surprise when it talked of Puritans settling in the northeast and their fears that women who could read (or do other “strange” things) were witches in league with the devil.
By 6th grade, I’d spent a lot of time in church and anything that was “in league with Satan” was bad news. But when reading this book, the characters afraid of Kit weren’t right–they were ignorant. They were hypocritical and downright silly.
This was the first book I read that tested my thoughts about good and evil, and the first book to demonstrate how fear drives the ignorant to make stupid decisions that impact more than themselves.
To this day I love this book. The plot line is right, the main character is a strong character with a mind of her own, and the themes in it are relevant even today–especially considering our current political arena.
When I decided to delve into writing, my first novels carried the voice of the teenager I was and lacked depth in their world building and characters, two areas reviewers love about my current works. When I created the Amaskans, I needed a group with a rich history. How did this group of assassins find their holy path? Why did they consider their crusade to be holy in the first place? Why were they at odds with the Boahim Senate and the Little Dozen Kingdoms?
These questions spurred the first drafts of Amaskan’s Blood, and as I dug deeper into the world of the Little Dozen Kingdoms, I found myself thinking about some of the same themes and motifs in The Witch of Blackbird Pond–prejudice, family, the fear of the unknown, growing up, death, aging, etc. They are common enough themes, but how you approach them makes the difference.
These are thoughts I keep in mind as I work on Amaskan’s War and plan book three (currently untitled). The story of someone (in this case, Kit) being shunned and ostracized isn’t new. Neither is Adelei’s quest for her identity in Amaskan’s Blood, but how an author approaches a story is everything.