Author Archives: deborahcfoulkes
The Witch’s Daughter was recommended by a work colleague and her description of the story made me cringe. I remember saying to her ‘Will I get angry?’ But something made me pick up the book and start reading, and I’m glad I did.
The story starts in modern day with Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who has lived for 100’s of years. Having just moved to town, she is starting to live a normal life where she can settle and not be noticed. She then catches the attention of teenage girl Tegan and a friendship is formed, but this comes at a prices. Elizabeth has an enemy who has stalked her since the start of her immortality and it’s this Gideon that she must protect Tegan from. The story then jumps back to Batchcomb in 1622 and Elizabeth tells Tegan how she came to be a witch and how she had Gideon met.
Everything about this book historically and witch wise convinced me that I would be repelled by it. So many fiction writers take this era and topic and give in to cliches, but I didn’t feel that with Paula Brackston’s work. She had done her researched it well and her knowledge on Wicca was excellent. One reviewer complained that she’d cliched by using the plague as the start of the witch trial the the lead finds herself in. I would object to that. It didn’t take much for someone to be accused of witchcraft. It was one of the easiest ways to get rid of an enemy.
The pace and readability was easy and it took only a few days to read. I didn’t want to put it down and would read the next installment. My only complaint was the final showdown between Gideon and Elizabeth felt a little rush with an abrupt ending, but nevertheless and enjoyable read that I would recommend
The punishment for witchcraft in England was hanging, unlike popular theory that witches were burned at the stake, that punishment was only carried out in the Americas and Europe. It was the punishment that Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne served if a person was found guilty of witchcraft. However, when it came to Mary Lakeland, something made Hopkins change tact, which has led to my theory of the true crime of the woman. Hopkins tried her as a traitor and not a witch and if that’s true. Why?
In late 1645 a pamphlet was published titled Confessions of Mother Lakeland of Ipswich in Suffolk which described her as an admitted witch of nearly 20 years. However there was some evidence that suggested that Hopkins was purposely sent to accuse her of witchcraft when really she was believed to be a Royalist agent. At her trial, four other people were accused of witchcraft and they were acquitted and Mary burned.
One theory was that Mary was not only accused of murdering her husband but was also accused of taking revenge on a man who had broken a courtship with her granddaughter. However, the man had links with the shipping industry something that he had in common. There is a strong possibility that the two men in communication with each other used the guise of witchcraft in order get rid of a bothersome future family member. But she was also responsible for Royalist publications and with the area of East Anglia being predominately Parliamentarian this would have been seen as treason.
Hopkins used the walking method on Mary and this is when she confessed. The walking method was a favourite technique of Hopkins. By keeping the accused awake for hours by walking them around the room constantly and eventually exhaustion would extract a confession. However, Mary Lakeland was described as a strong willed woman who should have been able to stand her ground. So this causes me to wonder was the reason she chose not to save herself was due to political reasons. This may seem a little weak. After all why risk her life? But the English Civil War was a war that tore even families apart. The belief in their course was a strong one. Even today religion and politics are always a hot topic. So it’s not unreasonable to believe that Mary Lakeland died for her Royalist belief and Hopkins burned her for it.
As for Hopkins’ motives, my belief is that his popularity was starting to wane and he was desperate for some official endorsement. My theory is that desperation caused him to be swayed into the way of politics. If he impressed the right people or even Oliver Cromwell then Hopkins career as witch finder would be an official one. It would make sense to why he chose to burn her rather than hang her as was customary. I believe that the burning of Lakeland did nothing but backfire on Hopkins. Already the tide was turning and people in power either were losing interest or not interested at all. Cromwell, could very well have heard of what Hopkins was doing, but the General had more important things to worry about than an overzealous man who killed a female Royalist.
So was Mary Lakeland a witch or Royalist, my opinion is that she was indeed killed for political reasons, however, to prove it is hard. But you have to ask yourself why Hopkins steered away from methods he knew well and used on every other witch and risk everything.
Was she thy God,
lovely to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection
Milton’s Paradise Lost
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, talks about the creation of the perfect garden and the creation of Man has always been one of my favourite of all the biblical stories, although one character who is linked but not in the book has fascinated me more.
Lilith appears in Book of Isaiah 34:14, describing Edom, where the Hebrew word lilit (or lilith) appears in a list of eight unclean animals, some of which may have demonic associations. This built the mythology of Lilith being the Queen or Mother of demons.
Her nobles shall be no more, nor shall kings be proclaimed there; all her princes are gone. Her castles shall be overgrown with thorns, her fortresses with thistles and briers. She shall become an abode for jackals and a haunt for ostriches. Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts, satyrs shall call to one another; There shall the Lilith repose, and find for herself a place to rest.There the hoot owl shall nest and lay eggs, hatch them out and gather them in her shadow; There shall the kites assemble, none shall be missing its mate. Look in the book of the LORD and read: No one of these shall be lacking, For the mouth of the LORD has ordered it, and His spirit shall gather them there. It is He who casts the lot for them, and with His hands He marks off their shares of her; They shall possess her forever, and dwell there from generation to generation.
Then around 13th Century, in order to explain some inconsistancies within the Old Testement, the Midrashic Literature, explained that Lilith not Eve was Adam’s first wife.
At the same time Jehovah created Adam, he created a woman, Lilith, who like Adam was taken from the earth. She was given to Adam as his wife. But there was a dispute between them about a matter that when it came before the judges had to be discussed behind closed doors. She spoke the unspeakable name of Jehovah and vanished.
It is from this mythology that the seed grew from The Mina Marley Chronicles. I wanted to create a story where Lilith is born again as Mina Marley and as well as telling her story in a modern setting. I wanted to link Lilith’s creation with that of the Supernatural world and play with the idea of her being a Mother or Queen. My tag line is that both Heaven and Hell want her dead. The idea that Mina as Lilith has the power of both realms running through her veins makes her uncontrollable and unpredictable. The Powers that Be ultimately want the reunion between her and Adam (Sebastian Daniels) who upon finding out that the angels had tricked him with a new wife (Eve) flew in to incandescent rage. The deal was made that he would remain immortal until Lilith was reborn and he would have what was his. But of course, nothing ever goes to plan, because far too many people have meddled in Mina’s life that it all goes wrong.
So upon writing the back story of Adam and Lilith, I tweaked a lot of the original Adam and Eve story and melded it into Lilith’s. I wanted people to look at her as less of evil demon or disobedient wife, but one that was curious and wanted to know why Adam was preferred over her. I wanted to also create a back story of Lilith’s link between herself and Supernatural creatures giving a basis of why Supton was built and why Otherworldly creatures flock there to live.
For me, Mina Marley is as much human as she can be despite her supernatural heritage. Born from an angel father and a succubus mother, yet she embodies what I feel Lilith is to us women especially. Choosing not be submissive, but standing up for ourselves and being strong in a positive way. Mina has the power to destroy everything in her path and yet doesn’t. She loves and hates equally, but knows that actions have consequences. She makes mistakes and has poor judgement sometimes. However, that’s how God made her. She was made with flaws, because if she wasn’t then she’d be almost angelic in purity.
So if you choose to join Mina on her journey, then keep that in mind, because for me Lilith is more relatable than Eve.
This is my version of the Garden of Eden story told by Gabriel
How many times have I heard ‘You’re not a real writer.’ from people, because I’m not traditionally published. Why am I not a real writer? I spend hours on end creating stories, which I then format and publish off my own steam. Surely that makes me a writer right? Does it matter how I do it? I just do it. Is this justified? I’m not sure. I’ve read some appauling traditionally published books and equally read some fantastic self published work.
Looking back over my writing career, I still find it astounding that this is what I do and still do. The first time I started to write, I had no idea what I was doing. I just remember writing words down and allowing the story I had to tell just to come out of me. That first story was Morgan and honestly, those first drafts were appaullingly bad. It just never worked or made sense, but it was a start. The seed had been planted and I was stepping on the road to my new way of life.
By the time I was writing The Higher Trilogy, I was taking it much more seriously. Learning about the trade and my writing was showing it. I’d considered writing courses and groups, but my experience doing a creative writing module at Uni put me off. Although there were some great ideas and tips that I gained from other students, the Tutor was not a fan of my writing style, complaining at the darkness that my stories always seemed to take. But my leanings reading wise has always been on the dark side, so the tone of writing reflects that. I even remember being told once that I shouldn’t write using my own style. It’s too risky to do that I was told. You should write properly. Again, this advice flummexed me. Why would I wait to be successful before using my own voice? Readers fall for the style just as much as plot and characters. Again it seemed people had tips on how to write and some of it was from those that had never write anything in thier life. One even said to me that I had good ideas, but I would be better with a ghostwriter. How to batter a writers confidence. Thankfully this was during my early writing career and I’ve learned what to take on and what not to. I may not sell millions but people are buying and reading and that speaks volumes.
When it comes to my writing process, I’m a bit haphazard. There’s a basic planning to the story, notes taken, but I don’t do anything special or use my office. In fact, the office gets neglected and should be used more. But I’m happy on the laptop in the middle of somewhere noisy and from there I can fall into my writing world quite quickly. But one of the things I’ve learned is that the craft I’m in is a personal one as is my journey. You can learn the technicalities, which is helpful, but I do beleive that if you can then you will. I could go on course after course, but would it make me a better writer? Maybe, maybe not, but all I know is that the love of what I do drives me and that is all that matters.
So am I real writer? Yes I bloody well am. It’s in my blood and I will continue doing it till they prise the pen from my cold dead fingers😉
When it comes to sports, apart from team sports like netball and hockey, I was never any good. I had no confidence in myself and I just wasn’t really interested. The thought of being out in a cold wet field or on hot day in stifling heat, doing any form of excercise was a big no no. I remember the days that we would have to do cross country, which involved running from one high school to another. It was pure torture. Walking through most of it, with the teacher shouting beside you to keep running. Now after doing some running as an adult, I realise that the way they went about it was all wrong. We were never taught how to run, just told to do it. Even during atheletics in the 100m, I would collapse on the floor feining some sort of death, while the girl with asthma would pass me and I’d curse her arse.
Then after the death of my dad, I decided that I needed to change my life in alot of ways. My mum had died at forty five through alot of bad lifestyle choices and my dad at sixty. When your parents dies so young, it brings your own mortality to the forefront, so I choose to do everything in my power to extend my own lifespan. Yes, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but at least I can say I did what I could.
About a eight or nine months ago a friend of mine talked me into taking up karate and wouldn’t put up with the ‘I’m too fat and unfit’ excuse. I walked into the Dojo and felt totally lost. We started doing katas and the feeling of being overwhelmed just exemplified, but my Sensei, pushed and encouraged. I continued going to classes and slowly began to improve and settle into each class. I moved up the grading so that now I’m on my orange belt. #TeamOrange. Then just before christmas, I decided to do something that would have had me running for the hills and that was to compete. I mean go against others and try and win. What am I thinking? But I signed up and trained.
After picking my Kata, Siafa, I worked week after week to get it right. For those who don’t know this is an example of the Kata.
The kumite (Sparring) was just practise and down to the day with the opponant, so I watched videos, learned from the higher grades and concentrated on my Kata. I would be on my own doing this in front of a crowd and judges. Could I have put myself under any more pressure. Then with a week to go, the Saifa wasn’t quite working and had a last minuite change to do First Kata.
The day of the tournment we walked into the sports hall and the nerves hit. I wasn’t on until 12 and so had plenty of time to warm up and practise. I watched others and supported those from my Dojo who were competing and then it was my time.
Standing there and waiting to go on, I felt like this was it. I’d trained so there was no reason why I couldn’t do this. I bowed in and went for it. There was very little time to process what I’d done before it was time to do the Kumite. I can honestly say that it was the most fun I’d had. It also showed me that I was capable of anything, I just needed to beleive it.
I walked away with double silver and I walked away very proud or myself.
I call my karate comrades my family and they are. From feeling so isoloted and out of it walking into the Dojo for the first time. I’ve made some great friends and adopted more sons and daughters. We all support one another. I love them a great deal and ontop of that Sensei Nix who has spent so much time working with me and making sure I’m the best I can be. So for the first time in my life, I’ve won something sporty and acheived another milestone in my life.
Right now I’m in the process of writing the final installment of The Mina Marley Chronicles and with it is not only the sense of sadness that comes from leaving some characters behind, but the fear also. With five books, I’ve taken readers on a journey through the life of Mina Marley and others of Supton and now it’s time to tie everything up in a nice neat bow. Making sure that every plot has been filled and and I’ve not left anything hanging or open, that I haven’t intended anyway.
I’m accustomed to saying goodbye to characters. My first book was a trilogy called The Higher and I struggled to say goodbye to them, but with Mina it seems that she’s become so much about what I am as an author. My product and selling point. This character that was once just a way to get traffic to my website has grown into something I didn’t quite expect.But it’s given me a chance to really look at my lead protagonist in real depth.
I wonder if there’s a little of everyone in Mina, the awkward, self concious woman trying to find a little peice of herself in a world she feels she fights against. She is trying desperately to lead a normal life in extraordinary situations and her love life is as about as complicated as it can get. She loves two men,one who is literally made for her. Her perfect match and can give her anything and everything, but her heart wants another. He hides his feelings, dissapears on a whim, afraid to commit to any feelings, but when another is on the scene becomes possessive. Sound familar. Mina, it seems, embodies the complexities of being a human, where we want so much of what’s not right for us instead of taking the gifts that are given to us. Mina Marley is an Angel and an Incubus, with both heaven and hell running in her blood, yet to me she seems more and more human the further into the story we go. Her struggles are just the same as ours, right down to whether we take the good or the bad.
Mina can also be very selfish in her actions, it’s all about herself and how she feels. In book three, she runs away with Micka after Sebsatian has invested so much into her. She knows that deep down, she is going to hurt the pair of them. Sebsatian, because she has gone with another man and Micka, because for them being together he will have to fall. There are severe consquences to what she’s doing, and she is constantly told so, but she does it anyway. This for me doesn’t make me hate her, but feel frustrated. How many times have we been in a situation where we’ve known damn well the consequences of our actions will have a negative impact and yet in the heat of the moment, it’s about our needs.
But there are positives to Mina, she’s very loyal and loving to those around her. It seems she doesn’t mean to get into the situations she does, but circumstances edge her that way. She’s fighting not only her own war, but others also. Supton is full of supernatural beings that have chosen to live as humans and each one as their own issues, but Mina is always there for them. She tries her best and sometimes messes that up, but over all she does get the job done.
The polar opposites of what’s inside her. The heaven and hell in Mina, I’ve enjoyed playing with. Because as humans we have the capacity also. Not many of us are all Good or all Evil, but many of us the elements of both, what sways our day to day choices is our free will. When that person is rude or cuts us up, it’s our free choice to whether we walk away or we smash their face in and I think that’s what I’m trying to convey with Mina Marley’s character. She has both angels and demons dictating to her how she should live her life, yet every choice she makes she tries and makes it herself. Her mistakes are usually her own, but like with many of us, it’s easy to blame one side or the other when things go wrong, something I’m exploring with Mina right now. A culmiation of events has left my character resentful and angry and right now she blames everyone but herself. Maybe she’s right in this instance, but it also gives you pause for thought. When things go wrong in your life do you blame that traumatic event from childhood or do you think well maybe I’d got here anyway.
Mina Marley is by far my favourite character I’ve ever created and I will miss her when she’s gone, but I think I can safely say, I’ve created one that is so multi-dimensional that many readers will be able to relate to many of her trials and tribulations.
As you may have seen in the news, York has been underwater and we, where we live have had a white knuckle few days and while it’s calm and dry for now, Storm Frank may just tip the river over the edge. But at our end of the river Ouse, everything has held steady and we’ve to count our blessings every day that the flood defenses have done what they were supposed to. But that’s right now and I want to look at my 2015.
After a hard 2013 and an even tougher 2014, this year for me has brought many blessings and I’m grateful for all of it. Those who were close know that during the end of 2013 I was struggling and by 2014 I’d descended into a near breakdown situation. Some events were caused by my own naive decisions and some by things that were out of my control. I walked into January this year with a new positive and feisty attitude and was ready to recover and get better and once I get it into my head to do something nothing stops me. With the help of family and friends, the recovery for me was a smooth one and part of the healing process was to focus on the writing.
I was working on the fourth Mina Book and playing around with a story on Matthew Hopkins at the start of the year. The new positive energy was driving both projects forward, but admittedly, my own self-confidence in my work took a little longer to catch up. Then by the middle of the year, I found someone who boosted it.
While doing a formatting project for David Baker the author, he told me about the editor he used. I’d been mulling around the idea for a while. Funds being the biggest issue, but then I took the plunge. Surely this guy would tell me if I was wasting my time.
John Hudspith has been one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made. He has near on finished editing The Mina Marley Chronicles: Micka and Me and has given constructive and positive feedback. This has given me the extra confidence knowing that I’m good enough and my next challenge in the coming year is self-promotion, which I admittedly am rubbish at.
I also started a fantasy epic which I’m writing with a new author and good friend Daniel Hinsley and I can honestly say I’m excited at the work we’ve already done and what there is left to do.
So 2016, I will be promoting a lot more, investing in signings and book fairs and getting the word out there that I’m around. I also will be sending Hopkins to John for editing once he’s done with Mina, which I’m sure he will love. Fingers crossed anyway.
My 2016 projects and releases will be Hopkins’ Last Witch, a fictional tale centred around the historical figures of Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne who in the 1640’s, during the Civil War, sent around 200 people in East Anglia to their deaths as witches. The story focuses on both Matthew and a fictional character Sinead Crowley accused of murdering her lover with witchcraft. I’m hoping that it will make people look at the events and character Hopkins a little differently.
Also I will be continuing to write the fantasy with Dan, which is based on the world where our seasons come from. It’s a coming of age tale of how one young man is thrust into power while he struggles with his own demons, while the once queen of Winter tries to find her own place in a world that no longer wants her.
Then there’s the final Mina Marley book, which promises to be an explosive and surprising ending to a series that I’ve loved. It’s a bittersweet goodbye, but I’ve loved every moment with them all in Supton.
So that’s my goal for next year and I must say I’m looking forward to some serious writing and meeting some amazing people. So once again thank you all for your support and I will see you on the other side.
Apart from writing, I’ve managed to squeeze in some reading and some from writers that I’d not read before. So my seasonal blog focus’ on my favourite reads of 2015.
The first one is Kate Quinn’s Mistress of Rome, because it’s one of the last that I’ve read. This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down from the first page.
Another I thoroughly enjoyed was by MJ Logue The Smoke of her Burning. My initial interest was peaked when I found out that the story was based around the battle at Selby during the English Civil War. Then I got to know the author and was asked to read it pre-release. It had all the elements of a good story. Humour, tension and bloody good characters.
Conn Iggulden’s War of the Rose series was one that I started this year. Already starting book two, Iggulden’s writing just brings history and characters alive.
Praetorian is another good read by SJ Turney. I love his Marius Mules series, but I think I loved this a little more. The characters were great and believable, with a lot of action. It’s definitely a book to get your teeth into.
Ben Kane is one of my favourite authors and I enjoyed his 2015 release Eagles at War. Reading this, Kane had created characters that left me torn between which character’s side I stood on. I love them both equally and both being on opposing ends left me conflicted. I can’t wait to read the next installment and find out where it takes me.
And finally there’s Stephen Lloyd Jones’ The String Diaries and Written in the Blood. I was recommended both and very much like Kate Quinn’s, I couldn’t stop reading this. The story centred around a family and their curse of being chased by an ancient shapeshifting race. From the very first page it’s fast paced and breathtaking. I loved both books and can’t wait to see if he writes a third.
This year I’ve been so privilaged to read so many new books and meet some great authors. These are just snippets of my 2015 reading.
With the winter season finally taking hold, the effects of Storm Desmond has thankfully not affected where I live. The River Ouse holding steady for the time being anyway. With so many losing so much, it makes you feel grateful for every blessing you can. Something that is becoming abundantly obvious is that every one of us should be grateful every day for waking up warm, alive and safe, because so many don’t or can’t.
Religion has played high on the media’s topic and at this time of year there are many religious festivals. From Christmas to the Winter Solstice. Our household is a dual faith one, my daughter being a catholic and myself a pagan. We celebrate both festivities and acknowledge the message that all the festivals bring, which is unity, family and love.
For me as a pagan, it’s a time where all my harvest has been gathered and now I rest and wait for the return of the Sun God who is borne from the Goddess. I decorate my house with tinsel and lights to encourage the Sun’s return and have a Christmas tree. I don’t care that it’s called a Christmas tree, because it is what it is. When it’s time for the tree topper, my daughter and I hold it in our hands together and say a prayer, asking the old and new Gods to bless the house and to welcome the Christmas Spirit in with its joyous energy.
When it comes to the tree, many people are OCD about colours, themes and what’s modern etc. I’m not, I like to use my tree as a place to hang memories. I hang decorations that were once my gran’s and my mum’s. Ones that my daughter made and my ex mother in law made. As well as those that I’ve just liked. My tree is a mis mash of colours and sizes with both coloured and white lights. It’s far from perfect, but it has meaning.
I also dress my altar with gold and red candles, a bowl of orange cloves, rosemary, holly and cinnamon. This is my acknowledgement to the pagan Gods.
So when people ask me what I do at Christmas as Pagan, it’s easy, I do pretty much what everyone else does. There’s a lot traditions that have pagan foundations, but one of the key messages we must take forward into the next year is about respect. No matter what we believe or don’t we must respect one another.
Someone once told me that in days of old the truth was held in a large mirror. When it was smashed the pieces spread far and wide and each one of us has only a piece of that mirror, but if we all put our pieces together then the truth would be revealed and I think that’s a strong story to think about. No one has the right answers, but we all have a little piece. Work together and show respect and the world may just be a better place.
At the weekend I embarked on a weekend adventure into East Anglia where Matthew Hopkins reigned terror over his home county. Staying in Norwich as a base, I spent the Saturday in Manningtree, where Hopkins lived and owned property. A good 40 minutes on the train from Norwich, the station was situated around 20 mins from the town. One of the things that dawned on me was our almost desolate the place was. In the middle of the countryside, it’s surrounded my beautiful scenery.
Twenty minutes later, I’d walked into the quaint little town. There was little there that pointed towards Matthew Hopkins there. No historical reference as though he’s not to be remembered. The Mistley Thorn Inn which stands now is a replacement building of the Inn of the same name that Hopkins had a share in and seems to the only reminder of their famous son. However, the visit allowed me to understand how easily it would have been for Hopkins and Stearne to do what they did. The town would have been somewhat smaller than it is not and the size would have been a great advantage. Paranoia was like dry kindling and one spark could consume and destroy one person’s life.
The mentality of town folk and those of the city are different as they are today. Anything unexplained was exemplified by the tightknit community. God forbid if you were different both physically or mentally because it was a fast-track way of getting to the gallows. So though I found very little of Hopkins in Manningtree, I did get a sense of the land and county that he travelled around.
The Norfolk and Essex countryside, is beautiful and vast and it’s not hard to imagine how that land would have been impacted with the Civil War. Soldiers from both camps marching and riding across the land trying to survive. I was definitely inspired by just being there and now feel able to give the scenes in the book much more depth and feeling.
So my journey with Hopkins continues and so does the book.