The Hellion will be released on 4th March 2021 and can be preordered online from most major bookstores.
The 1600s were a time of fear, mistrust and darkness. The early days of James I’s reign, in particular, were plagued by unease.
James I of England had already reigned in Scotland since 1567 and became King of England and Ireland as well following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. James is described by many historians as being serious, knowledgeable and scholarly – but it is impossible to overlook the terrible devastation that he caused to many families through his fear of witchcraft.
In 1589, James sailed to Denmark – a country notorious at the time for its obsession with witchcraft and the hunting of witches – to marry Anne of Denmark. Their journey back to Scotland was hit by storms, and the newlyweds were forced to shelter in Norway for several weeks. It was clear to James that witches had summoned the storm in attempt to kill him, and on his return to Scotland the North Berwick Witch Trials began. These 1590 trials are not as well known as those that occurred later, but it can be argued that they were the catalyst that led to an estimated 3000-4000 women and men being executed after witchcraft accusations in Scotland alone.
The accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials confessed to their supposed crimes, following torture. Agnes Sampson was fastened to the wall of her cell by a witch’s bridle, an iron instrument with four sharp prongs forced into her mouth. Dr Fian had his fingernails removed and iron pins thrust into the open wounds. The brutally was horrific, and the confessions unsurprising. By the time the trials were over, about seventy people had been accused of witchcraft, although it is not known how many were executed.
Following this, James took a keen interest in what he saw as the stamping out of witchcraft. He took part in the interrogation and torture of suspected witches, and attended many trials. In 1597, James wrote Daemonologie, a tract denouncing witchcraft and which was spread throughout Scotland and England.
Although some say that James’s attitude towards witchcraft mellowed in the years following this, the damage had already been done. When James took the English throne in 1603, his new courtiers were desperate to please their new king. Noblemen all over England looking to gain favour with the monarch researched him and what his leanings might be – and read Daemonologie.
It is against this backdrop that the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 took place. The gruesome hearings led to eleven deaths – ten by execution – including three generations of one family. The Hellion follows this family, always chased by a whisper of evil, right to the gallows.
The Hellion by Harriet Young – Q & As
What is your book about?
The Hellion is a novel based on one of the families accused during the Pendle Witch Trials. Elizabeth, her daughter Elizabeth and her grandchildren, Alizon, James and Jennet all lived at the notorious Malkin Towers. Plagued by poverty and their own internal struggles, their lives follow a path that leads inextricably to Lancaster Gaol.
How long did it take to reach the publishing stage?
The Hellion is being published by Unbound. I started writing the novel in March 2017, and began approaching publishers after completion in late 2018. It was accepted by Unbound in mid 2019, and it was fully funded for publication in October 2019.
What is the release date?
Release date is 4 March 2021. If you have preordered, you will receive your copy as soon as it has been published. I can’t wait for you to start receiving your copies!
How long did your research take?
Research was an ongoing process throughout the writing of the novel and for around four months prior. The limited sources mean that there are conflicting accounts of what happened, and it took some time to sift through this.
Did you have any particular author in mind when writing the novel?
I didn’t – there are many historical fiction novelists that I enjoy reading, but The Hellion is written in very much my own style. It is fast paced and, I hope you will agree, extremely readable.
How are you feeling about publication?
This is my debut novel and having a book published has always been my dream. It is terrifyingly exciting – holding my book in my hands will be an indescribable feeling, but of course I am anxious that you all like it too!
Will you write another?
My second novel is already underway. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m very excited about this one too.
Where can I get The Hellion?
The Hellion is available for preorder through the links below:
W H Smith
Thank you so much for your support!
You can also find The Hellion on Goodreads here.
The Hellion was recently featured in the Lancashire Telegraph, Cheshire Live and the Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer.
Contacting the author
If you would like an interview, guest blog post or any other information about The Hellion, the writing or publication process (or anything else!) please feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I will get back to you as soon as possible.