Have you got a good memory? Do you remember a few weeks ago I took part in the cover reveal for Shakespeare’s Witch – the latest historical novel by Samantha Grosser? Well, I’m please to announce the book is now on sale and Samantha herself has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her new novel for the Hisdoryan blog.
by Samantha Grosser
Publication Date: March 20, 2019
Sam Grosser Books
eBook & Paperback; 358 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Love, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Madness.
A fortune told …
When Sarah Stone foresees Will Shakespeare’s latest play has opened doors to evil, she begs the playwright to abandon it. But Will refuses, aware the play is one of his best. And so rehearsals for Macbeth begin.
Forbidden desires …
After her vision, Sarah fears for her life – she has never known the shewstone to lie, and she turns to her brother Tom for comfort. A strange darkness seems to haunt the playhouse, and when Tom sets out to seduce John Upton, the boy actor who plays Lady Macbeth, the boy sees the hand of witchcraft in his own forbidden desires for men. Then Sarah weaves a spell to win the love of the new lead actor, and John, terrified for the safety of his soul, begins to make his accusations.
The Spirits have spoken …
As rehearsals continue, Sarah and Tom must struggle to convince John he is mistaken and that his sins are his own – their lives and the fortune of the play are at stake. But the Spirits have spoken – will the fate that Sarah foresaw come to pass or is their destiny their own to decide?
Set against the first production of Macbeth in 1606, Shakespeare’s Witch is a seductive tale of the origins of the curse of the Scottish Play.
About the Author
Historical fiction author Samantha Grosser originally hails from England, but now lives on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, son and a very small dog called Livvy.
Combining a lifelong love of history with a compulsion to write that dates from childhood, Samantha is now bringing her passion for telling compelling stories to the world.
Samantha has an Honours Degree in English Literature and taught English for many years in Asia and Australia. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place and The Officer’s Affair, and The King James Men, set during the turbulent early years of 17th Century.
Hi Samantha. Can you tell us a little bit the book and where you first got inspiration to write the story?
I’ve been a Shakespeare nut as long as I can remember. I was lucky enough as a child to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform in Stratford-upon-Avon, and my local theatre (the Bristol Old Vic) used to perform at least one Shakespeare production a year.
I’m not sure how the subject came up, but I was telling my husband about the curse of Macbeth, and he asked me when and how the legend began. We both stared at each other for a moment. Then he said, ‘That’s going to be your next book, isn’t it?’ And I nodded. It was truly a flash of inspiration – a lightbulb moment!
So Shakespeare’s Witch is an imagined version of the origins of the curse. I started with the premise that Shakespeare’s words accidentally summon evil forces that haunt the play and all of those involved in its production. What emerged in the writing is a dark tale of madness, passion and the supernatural that reflects the chilling sense of corruption at the heart of Macbeth.
Witches and magic are a common theme in Shakespeare’s work. How did you go about researching witchcraft in early modern England? Are there any interesting stories or figures you came across?
The witchcraft in the story is a mixture of modern Wicca and what I could discover of traditional witchcraft through old books and trial records. There’s very little written evidence about English witchcraft other than that written by the authorities, so I used a little artistic licence in my descriptions. The sorcery was easier to research – medieval books of magic, or grimoires, from the era are still extant. There’s also a body of literature surrounding them written both by academic and by modern practitioners.
One of the most surprising things I discovered was that King James I of England, (King James VI of Scotland) was a firm believer in witches and actually wrote a book about it called Daemonologie. He was convinced that witches had been responsible for the storms that delayed his wife’s voyage from Denmark, and during one of the plots to assassinate him, words of magic were found on one of the accused. He personally oversaw the questioning and ensuing trials. This seems to have had a bearing on the depiction of Shakespeare’s witches in the play who owe far more to the Scottish tradition of witches in a coven than to the solitary witches more common in England.
Apart from Macbeth, what’s your favourite Shakespeare play?
Hamlet. I’ve seen numerous productions over the years but the first time was at Stratford with Michael Pennington in the lead role, and it was the play that truly made me fall in love with Shakespeare.
Are there any plans for a follow up or sequel?
The Sorcerer’s Whore comes out later this year, and is set 25 years after the first fateful production of Macbeth, as the forces of evil are about to be re-awoken.
Blog Tour Schedule
Wednesday, March 20
Review at Passages to the Past
Thursday, March 21
Review at Book Reviews from Canada
Friday, March 22
Interview at Jathan & Heather
Saturday, March 23
Feature at Broken Teepee
Monday, March 25
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Wednesday, March 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Friday, March 29
Interview at Passages to the Past
Sunday, March 31
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, April 1
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste
Tuesday, April 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, April 4
Interview at Hisdoryan
Monday, April 8
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Tuesday, April 9
Review at Bibliophile Reviews
Wednesday, April 10
Review at Macsbooks
Friday, April 12
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 16
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews