April Author Spotlight 2015
Letter ‘W’ is for Alison Williams author of The Black Hours.
Why do I recommend The Black Hours?
The Black Hours is not an easy novel to read because it’s based on the true story of a cruel witch-finder during the English Civil War, in the 17th century.
Alison Williams thrust good and evil upon me disturbingly, because at the beginning, evil is shown to have the upper hand. I was outraged as I was taken inside the vicious witchfinder’s sick and manipulative mind, which enabled him to enlist the help of the landowners, magistrates, other members of the clergy, as well as some spiteful townspeople. I was shocked by the plight of the hopeless good people like poor Alice, who was constantly in the throes of a dreadful situation, because she was almost alone, poor, and helpless.
I was appalled and angered by the rampant misogyny, injustice, and violence for three-quarters of the novel, until eventually a small light shone, and a sensible and respectable hero appeared. At last I had some hope that the situation would improve, and it did, in a way which may not be totally satisfactory for those of you who like HEA, but in the only way such a dark episode could end realistically.
I loved the way Alison transported me to rural 17th century England, into the cottages, the prisons, and the courts, making me feel I was really there as I squeezed my kindle in horror. I couldn’t stop reading in spite of the distress I was feeling, because I really felt sympathy and concern for Alice and her grandmother’s plight.
The Black Hours is a must for lovers of well-written historical fiction, which deals with ordinary people and factual events, and for readers who don’t mind being chilled to the bone.
What’s your book about?
‘The Black Hours’ is set during the infamous witch hunts in England in the seventeenth century. The witch craze that had seen thousands of deaths across Europe was more or less over by then, so this was a bit of an anomaly. But Matthew Hopkins used the chaos of the civil war to make some money out of witch hunting. What’s different about my book is that not only is it based on a real figure – Matthew Hopkins was, unfortunately, all too real – it also tells the stories of the ordinary people affected by what he did. I do think that sometimes historical fiction focuses too much on the bigger picture, the important people. I visited the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall during my research and saw a list of names of those persecuted and realised that behind each name was a real person. A person with a family, with hopes, dreams. With feelings. What I wanted to do with The Black Hours was to somehow let people know what had happened to real people, how it felt for them to be caught up in events they couldn’t control. It tells the story from two sides – with alternating viewpoints from Matthew himself and from one of his (fictional) female victims, Alice Pendle.
What are you working on now?
As well as writing fiction, I also work as a freelance writer and editor. The ‘day job’ is keeping me really busy at the moment and I’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful writers. Unfortunately that means my fiction wiring has had to take a bit of a back seat. But I am researching a couple of ideas for my next book – both historical fiction. One is based on the life of French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix, focussing on his painting ‘The Death of Sardanapalus’. The novel will tell the story of the (fictional) woman used as the model for the concubine in the painting, and the story of the concubine herself, drawing parallels between their lives. The other is based on something I read about Guy Fawkes – that there is a theory that he was actually married. I wondered what it would be like to be his wife, and want to tell his story through her eyes.
What would you like readers to know about you?
As well as editing and writing, I’m planning to launch an online magazine for independent writers later this year, so I’m busy trying to set that up at the moment. I really enjoy writing articles and over the last few years have had lots of articles published online – I think this is definitely the way forward for magazine publishing. I love the idea of combining that aspect of my writing with my interest in and experience of self-publishing. I found it very time-consuming and frustrating to find lots of reliable information when I was self-publishing for the first time and think that having access to all that information in one place, with articles by authors, editors and marketing experts would be really helpful and that’s what I’m hoping the magazine will provide. It’s early days but I’m very excited about it.
How can we find out more or contact you?
Amazon.co.uk author page:
The Black Hours on Amazon.com
The Black Hours on AmazonUK
Please take some time to check out some of the other blogs on the A-Z Challenge. There are plenty of interesting and varied topics.