The Fenwith Trials

This story is temporarily on hold while I figure out how to re-structure it*. Right now it runs a little long at 210 000 words...but I love the ideas, and the story is strong, so I am determined to get it out there one day. In the meantime, feel free to have a read about my inspirations behind writing the piece, and a bit of a summary.

**And I think I've finally hit on it! Whole new narrator and point of view. I believe it will give the story a fresh feel and offer a richer story in fewer words. I can't wait to get started on it, which will hopefully be in the next couple of months.

Fenwith is a project very dear to my heart, touching on a subject that once you get me started on I can't stop talking about. The idea of the witch trials has always been fascinating. It began long ago with a study of the Salem witch trials, but I couldn't stop there. As soon as I hit on the European trials of the 15th and 16th centuries, especially in Scotland and Germany, I was lost in the stories. Horrible, heartwrenching, incredible...and sadly, not over yet - mentally if not physically.

I'm a strong believer that, as much as the trials seem to be religiously based, it was politics that really drove them. It was vindictiveness at its best. Don't like what your neighbour has to say about you? Accuse them of witchcraft and get them out of your hair. Government (at the time = Church), needs money? Accuse the person with the most land of having been seen at a sabbat, and then confiscate all of their holdings.

With all of these stories, as well as the investigations into the tortures that these people went through to urge their "confessions", the ridiculous theories and "proofs" that were used to condemn these could it not be written about? The whole thing is a story, so why not bring it all together into one narrative?

What really convinced me to write Fenwith, though? It was the anecdote of a young woman who was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to hang. She was speaking with someone (at the moment I forget who), and told them she was pregnant. The other person tried to convince her to tell the judge about her condition in order to get a stay on her execution. Her response? That she refused to be considered a whore as well as a witch.

Her courage and strength amazed me. I don't know her name, or anything else about her life - so instead, I created one of my own, in honour of her and all the men and women who died for silly reasons, based on false evidence and coerced confessions. Were they all innocent? I'm sure they weren't. Murder by poison, adultery, bad luck - these things I believe. The rest? ... Not up for me to decide.

The Fenwith Trials, then, is the story of a group of people who must suffer and survive a similar social upheaval in a 15th century England-esque setting. It is the story of Troian Gardener, an independent woman at a time when independence made you stand out, and not in a good way. It is the story of Ana, Imelda and Lariah, the three other women who stand with Troian to honour their beliefs and draw strength from each other. It is the story of Sofinne, their mentor, the town healer who sees the world for what it is and does her best to teach her girls the way to walk the balance between keeping their faith and keeping their lives.

It is also the story of Sir Isaac Harbottle of Grimstone Hall (Curious about the name? He's based on a true life man, an "iconoclast general" by the name of Sir Harbottle Grimstone), a Matthew Hopkins style witch hunter who not only believes the horror stories he hears, but believes he's doing right by taking action, a zealot with no compassion or mercy. His son, Thackery, follows him, but hasn't quite decided what his beliefs are yet.

It begins with a strong moral debate between Guy Laflam and Nicholas August (see the debate between Pelagius and St. Augustine) about the position of the Church in people's lives, and how far they should be allowed to control the minute aspects of society. The conflict quickly turns to riots, lynchings, arrests, and mass hysteria.

Amidst this chaos, love blossoms and is tried, friendships are strengthened, and no one is safe.


  1. Sounds amazing! The Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating part of history - absolutely traumatic too.


  2. I will definitely read this book when it comes out.