Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Talk of the Bay with Rick Kleffel

I'm excited to report that an interview with Rick Kleffel will broadcast on Halloween, Oct. 31, between 10 am and 11 am on KUSP's Talk of the Bay program. This is 88.9 fm or for those not in earshot, it streams at I'll be talking about The Witch's Trinity with Rick.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Read it and eat

Instead of "read it and weep," Towne Center Books has come up with a monthly event called Read it and Eat. It's a luncheon where the author answers questions, reads a passage or two... a low-key, fun thing to do.

For my book, this is quite ironic, since the characters in The Witch's Trinity are starving... but I'll be participating Nov. 30.

Towne Center Books is an absolutely lovely indie bookstore in Pleasanton, California, at 555 Main Street. Please call 925-846-8826 for more information and to register. Hope to see you there.

Death of the Stablehand

First of all, two bloggers were generous enough to post interviews with me: please see Michelle Moran's History Buff and Kelly Hewitt's Loaded Questions.

And here's an image titled Death of the Stablehand by Hans Baldung Grien. Although it appears more modern than the Compendium Maleficarum images I've been posting lately, this is actually older, from the early 1500s. As you can see, the witch in the upper right, wielding what looks like an upside-down broom, has either killed or stupefied the poor stablehand, as the horse looks on bewildered.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trampling the Cross

Much of witchcraft is a reversal of Christanity. For instance, witches say the Catholic Mass backwards, and it becomes the Black Mass. They accept the Eucharist but underneath their tongue instead of on top--and then spit it out into the privy. In The Witch's Trinity, they pray with their hands pressed together and facing downwards rather than towards heaven. I'm actually not sure if I made up that detail or if I saw it somewhere in my research.

Old witchcraft woodcuts illustrate these reversals. Here is a new witch trampling upon the cross rather than venerating it. And please note--the witch is a male! The image comes from the Compendium Maleficarum, a book that explained everything about witches (borrowing some information from the earlier Malleus Maleficarum, another witch hunting Bible). This woodcut is from a 1610 edition, reproduced in Brian Levack's The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe. The Compendium Maleficarum was written by a Milanese monk named Francesco Maria Guazzo.

Is the pebble trial real or invented?

People ask me whether The Witch's Trinity is based on a particular case of witchcraft I found in my research. It's not--it's an amalgam of all the different things I read, as well as some invention.

The pebble trial is a good example of this. In The Witch's Trinity, a character must endure a test of her innocence. A kettle of water is boiled, and three pebbles are thrown into the steaming, rupturing water. The character is asked to retrieve the pebbles--if she can get them, and if she remains unburned, she is innocent.

In my reading, I learned about the pebble trial. It did exist. But I altered it slightly to suit my story--rather than one pebble, the character must collect three, a reference to the Holy Trinity. Like many of the witchcraft tests, this one is impossible to pass successfully.

If you have read The Witch's Trinity (or even if you haven't!) and would like to ask me any questions, please feel free to do so either by writing a comment on any post--the comments automatically go to my in-box, so I always see them--or by sending me an email to (my first name) (the AT symbol) ( I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Witch's Trinity on the radio

I will be on KPFA this Monday the 15th from 3-3:30 p.m. as part of Denny Smithson's Word for Word program, 94.1 FM, discussing The Witch’s Trinity. I don't know if KPFA has live streaming, but the website does indeed post the recordings after the fact

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Precursor to the broom

In this image from De Lamiis et Phitonicis Mulieribus--a very old tome on witchcraft--shapeshifted witches ride the air on a stick, a more ancient concept than that of women riding brooms.

De Lamiis was written by German Ulrich Molitor in 1493. He was a law professor, and his book went into several editions, illustrated by woodcuts that were updated so it is possible to find different versions of the same image. I'll post two of those next time for comparison purposes.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Molitor:

Ulrich Molitor (15th century) was a Professor of Law at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

He wrote one of the first books on witchcraft, De Lamiis et Pythonicis Mulieribus (The Witches and Diviner Women), published in 1489.

Although Molitor supported the death sentence for heretics and practitioners of witchcraft, from a moderate point of view for his time he considered that the Sabbaths were an illusion caused by the Devil and not a reality.

This image located in Alan C. Kors and Peter Edwards: Witchcraft in Europe 1100-1700.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


This image is from a 1610 edition of the book Compendium Maleficarum (found in Brian Levack's The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe). It shows witches who have taken the form of creatures--including a slow but very evil snail--to work their maleficence.

Shapeshifting plays a role in The Witch's Trinity, as an owl and a cat are possibly imbued with human souls.

It is ON SALE!

My local bookstore (only bookstore in my new "hometown") had not received The Witch's Trinity by the on-sale date of Sept. 25. I had to check back three different times to see this stunning vision: a pile of my books! I knew the store had ordered five copies, so I was thrilled to see only four. That means one got bought! Heady stuff. ;)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Litquake update

Here's the word on the Litquake panel I'm so happy to be part of:

Monday, October 8, 5:30-7:30 pm
The Journey to Being Discovered:
First-Time Authors Reveal All

Foundation Center, 312 Sutter St., Second Floor Conference Room. FREE

Learn from a panel of newly published, first time writers at this panel discussion, a co-production with The Foundation Center. Three novelists and one nonfiction author will talk about all that was involved in making their dream of writing a reality. We’ll cover finding the time and discipline to write regularly, identifying potential publishers, getting noticed by literary professionals, dealing with rejection, and publicizing your book. In Litquake festival fashion, the writers will also be reading from their newly published works. Bring your questions. Space is limited and advance registration required. Please visit to register.

Participants include: Anita Amirrezvani, Bridget Kinsella, Erika Mailman, and Kemble Scott

The next Witch's Trinity reading is 7 p.m. this Thursday the 4th, at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland's Montclair District, 6120 La