Witches…

Dennis Lowery

I am a book geek. Forty-nine years ago, I bought ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’ by Elizabeth George Speare at a school book fair and read it for the first time. Seven years ago, I began what would become a two-year project with a client, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, to write and private publish her memoir. Wethersfield—in 1687—is the setting for Speare’s novel. Remembering the story, when there, I made a point of visiting the oldest parts of this still small town (one of the oldest settlements in America) to see the houses standing that dated back to that era. At one, I learned the witch trials of Connecticut predate the more well-known Salem Witch Trials by nearly thirty years and that Wethersfield was one of the significant sites.

One crisp, chilly early autumn morning in Wethersfield, I sat and enjoyed a thermos of coffee at Blackbird pond (now known as the Cove). Under an old tree, bent and shaped by wind and weather over many decades, I remembered the simple joy of discovering Speare’s story at that book fair. At home that day, as soon as my after-school chores were done, I sat and read it under a huge southern magnolia. A ten-year-old kid lost in the story, wondering what it was like to live in those times and in that place. Drinking my coffee that morning 42 years later, under a much different tree, I felt thankful at my choices that led me to do what I do… to have become a writer that gets paid to write. It had brought me to one of the key locations in that story.

That experience is why I’ve chosen Wethersfield as the location of one of my stories I’ve been working on. When I developed the idea for the story, I knew it had to be set there. Now, here’s the story origin, where the idea came from.

A few years ago, I came across this picture and at breakfast, one morning showed it to my twins, ‘Alpha’ and ‘Beta’ and asked:

“What do you think that cat’s doing?”

“Sitting in a tree,” said Beta.

I shook my head. Alpha raised her hand, and I nodded to her.

“Looking at the moon.”

I shook my head. And waited.

“Dad!”

“Yes?” I replied, stretching the moment.

“What do you think the cat’s doing then?” Alpha pressed with Beta’s head nodding in support.

I slid my chair closer to the table and took a sip of coffee, buying time to make something up. “His—the cat’s—name is Balthazar, and he’s waiting for his witch. You see,” I paused for more coffee… more thinking, “witches and cats choose each other. And this little cat, Balthazar, finally ‘meets’ and chooses his witch only to find out it’s a human girl in her Halloween costume. Now, woodland cats never attach themselves to a human. It’s just not done, and they look down on their urban relatives. When Balthazar meets the girl and finds out she’s human, he has to decide. If he bonds with her—a human—then he’ll only live the lifespan of an average cat. He won’t have the eternity that comes with bonding to a real witch. But Balthazar’s run out of chances to find his witch and despite how he acts, he’s lonely. The girl has no friends and is terribly alone, too. They—the girl, Audrey, and Balthazar—have to work out some things. Perception and prejudice can be set aside and overcome if something is important enough to make us change them. They discover they were truly meant to become best friends.”

I stopped there because that’s as far as I had spun it, off-the-cuff and in my head while talking with them.

Both were fired up, wanting to know more. “Are you going to write the story?”

And I knew I had to, for them. So, I wrote the first five chapters and have planned out the rest of the story. A lot of work and other writing has got in the way the past few years, but I’ve promised them I’ll finish as one of their graduation presents next year.

Waiting for My Witch introduces a young, strong female character: Audrey is 15, and her life has been uprooted. Her father, a soldier, had been killed in Afghanistan, and her mother has moved them a thousand miles away from her friends and everything familiar and comfortable. In the town where her father was raised, she learns more about him and his past and something important about herself and her future. All while dealing with growing up and becoming a young woman.

Email me know if you’re interested in reading the first chapter.

The Querency, beginning midnight 24 October, is when witches and cats seek and select each other. It lasts until sundown on Hallowe’en; “All Hallows Eve,” which begins the period of The Choosing, until 11:59 PM. From: Ordinatio Pro Felis Silvestris Catus [Regulations for Woodland Cats]

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