Historical Perspective

I just finished reading James Morrow’s The Last Witchfinder and in the back of the book is the “P.S” section where there are author interviews and whatnot. Apparently, Morrow spent seven years working on this novel…and many years before doing ‘pre-writing’–where he got the inspiration and accrued information.

One thing caught my attention. It seems Morrow felt creeped out by the Salem witch trials. He always felt awkward when visiting the museums about the witchtrials. Considering this is a book about the juxtaposition of Reason and superstitions in the 17th to 18th centuries, I found myself wondering why he would steep himself in all this history to create this novel. Then I asked myself this question:

Why spend so much time on a time period that creeps you out…and not in a good way? The amount of effort that has to be put forth in a novel is strenuous at the best of times. Why work on something that seems, in some ways, painful?

Another question for all you good reader/writers out there:
A publisher has said that yes! he will publish you…but only if you write a historical piece. What time period do you feel you could research and basically ‘spend time in’ for a decade or more while creating your piece?

Book Thoughts I Wonder Questions from the Ether

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I wonder if the fact that the time period creeped him out so much was the reason Morrow HAD to write about it. It was a way of working through the creeps and purging them out, perhaps.As far as a time period I could spend ten years in… that’s a toughy. The second half of the 1800s, perhaps. You’ve got a number of new technologies, the Civil War, and cowboys.

  2. I’m trying to think of a time period I couldn’t spend ten years studying. Not sure there is one. I agree with Ali (go fig). I think Morrow was exorcizing some demons.

  3. I would research a time so far back that I could play with certain facts to serve my story without arousing the suspicions of a casual observer. And then they’ll make a movie out of it, and title it, “10,000 B.C.: the ont we should have made.”

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