Blog Tour: The WitchFinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Today I’m thrilled to host the next stop on The WitchFinder’s Sister Blog Tour penned by Beth Underdown and published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. As part of the blog tour I was very fortunate to interview Alice Hopkins, the protagonist in the story. As always, don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour!

 

 

Blurb:

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1645.

When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.

 

So without further ado, welcome Alice to the CKT blog.

You have had a tough time of it recently, after the death of your husband. What were your first thoughts when you knew you had to return home?

When my husband died, I was stunned. Knowing that I had to go back to Manningtree came to me only little by little, through a fog of grief. I had no wish to go back, but no way of supporting myself in London. I would even have stayed on as a servant – but by the time Joseph died, I knew I was pregnant, and nobody wants a servant with a child in tow.

 

Manningtree is an interesting place, full of colour, to have moved back to after recent events; is there anything you like particularly about the town?

I do love the docks, and the silver light on the estuary when the tide is out. But more than this, when I first came home, suddenly I felt as though people could see me again. In London, people’s eyes would skip past me in the street as though I wasn’t there, but when I came back to Manningtree, my brother being so respected in the town, men doffed their hats as I pass by.

 

 

How did you feel seeing your brother again, especially after your time apart?

I was anxious about seeing him, especially about telling him of my pregnancy. But at the same time, I felt that what had been keeping us apart was my choice of husband. Matthew had not liked my marrying Joseph, so I thought perhaps now I was a widow, we would be able to get along as we had as children. But I did not realise that Matthew had changed since I had gone away.

 

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Your tale is extraordinary, why did you decide to tell us the truth when you did?

When I wrote my tale down, there was nothing left to do but tell the truth.

 

Is there one thing you could’ve done differently, what would it have been?

There are many things I wish I had done, but I’m not sure what I could have done. Unless perhaps I could never have come back to Manningtree in the first place – perhaps I ought to have turned around and found someone to take me back to London that very first day.

 

And lastly, do you believe there is such a thing as a witch?

I think things happen that we cannot name the cause of. But I’m not sure they can be willed to happen by any person living. Such things that are God’s business, or else the devil’s.

I would like to say a big thanks to Alice for stopping by, I know how difficult it is at the moment after everything.

About the author:

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Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The WitchhFinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins.

She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

 

This fantastic novel is not out until 2nd March 2017 but is available to preorder from Amazon here.

To learn more about Beth Underdown follow her on Twitter @bethunderdown

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*Blog Tour Deep Down Dead Part Two*

As I said earlier, I have interviewed JT from Deep Down Dead, as part of the blog tour, which I must say was one of the most challenging interviews I have ever had to do. You’ll see what I mean anyway.

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Location: The Hinkey Harlow bourbon bar, Jacksonville, Florida

Interviewer: CKT Blog aka Rachel Emms.

Interviewee: James Robert Tate (JT). Bounty Hunter

 

The Hinkey Harlow is an old speakeasy tucked down a side street a little ways out of downtown Jacksonville. It’s not a place I’d ventured before, but JT insisted that if I wanted to meet face-to-face, this was the place he’d be. Seeing as I’d flown out there for the interview I thought I’d better agree to his terms.

The bar is all dim lighting, dark polished wood, and gleaming bottles of bourbon. I spot JT immediately. I can count the number of patrons on one hand, and he isn’t easy to miss –  a big guy nursing a glass at the end of the bar.

I cross the room, my heels knocking a steady beat on the scuffed floorboards. No one looks up. As I get closer I see he was little older than I’d imagined, the lines etched deeper around his eyes, his blond hair a little greyer. Hot though. Definitely hot.

I say hello, and he nods to the stool beside him.

I climb onto it and order us both a bourbon. I’d been warned he doesn’t say much, so I know it’s up to me to ask the first a question. I’m feeling nervous. He doesn’t make small talk and he’s got this stillness, an intensity, about him. When he looks at me with his vivid blue eyes I almost forget my first question.

Bounty Hunting is a pretty niche occupation, how did you get into the business of being a Bounty Hunter?

He stares at me as I’m asking the question, his expression unreadable. He stays silent for so long I’m not sure if he’s going to answer at all. Then, just as I’m about to ask another one, he nods.

JT: Oftentimes I don’t like looking backwards. I prefer moving forwards, looking at what’s ahead rather than behind, if you know what I mean? But, what I will tell you, is that everyone finds their own way into the life. Folks come from just about everywhere. Sure a lot are retired military or cops, but that’s not essential. Might give you a head start on the tracking and the practicalities, but there’s a whole bunch of legal stuff that you need to get learnt.

How long did it take you to train as a Bounty Hunter and have you always lived by your unique set of rules?

He narrows his eyes, squinting at me. I can tell he’s suspicious.

JT: You seem real interested in what I do, you looking to start in the business yourself?

No, I tell him. I’m just interested to know more about him. I nod at the bartender, have them pour us both another bourbon.

JT: Learning is something that’s never done. I learn as I go along. Find new ways to do things. Make mistakes too.

He looks away a moment, like he’s remembering something, someone. Then turns back to me.

JT: The rules came about from my learning from mistakes. I started out with eight, then added a couple more:

  1. Never trust no one
  2. Be prepared, always
  3. Limit your risks
  4. Don’t make assumptions
  5. Create your own blueprint
  6. Always have a plan
  7. Focus on the facts
  8. Force only as necessity, never for punishment
  9. Pick your moment real careful
  10. Past behaviour can predict future behaviour

A friend of mine added another one, number eleven, no so long ago: Use whatever you’ve got to get the job done. Like I said, I didn’t make that one. I might use it though.

What is your favourite thing about being a Bounty Hunter?

JT: The freedom. I’m my own boss. I take the jobs I want. I’m not bound to an office or any corporate bullshit.

What do you do to relax when you aren’t collecting a runaway felon?

JT: I like fixing up old cars. I’ve got a 1968 Ford Mustang. If I get time I might get another.

You have quite a history with Lori, but how did you feel seeing her after all this time?

He shakes his head.

JT: That’s personal.

How did you feel when you realised Lori had brought her daughter, Dakota, along to pick you up? I can imagine it’s not the type of situation you would’ve imagined yourself in.

He frowns.

JT: That’s another personal question. I told you I don’t answer them. What I will say is that chasing a fugitive is a dangerous job. It’s no place for a child. Me and Lori, we’ve had words about that.

And lastly, you’re a pretty fearless guy, but what is your biggest fear?

He holds my eye contact and I see a whole range of emotions past through his expression. I realise my mistake, it’s another personal question, and he’s already warned me off asking them. But I wait, hoping he might answer.

JT: There’s a bunch of things I try not to think on. Not sure I’m ready to talk about them just now.

He gives me a half smile as he gets down from the barstool.

JT: Pleasure meeting you. And thanks for the drink.

I want to thank him for letting me pick his brains, but I can’t get the words out. Instead I smile (mysteriously I hope) and watch him turn and walk away.

To find out more about JT, Lori and Dakota all you’ll need to do is purchase a copy!

To buy this from Amazon just click here

To buy this from Waterstones click here.
To find out more about Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl follow her on Twitter at @crimethrillgirl  or check out her website here.