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!
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.
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:
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 @