Witches are Real

With Halloween right around the corner, thoughts often turn to fright-night characters such as goblins, witches, and ghosts. But far from dwelling in the realm of fairy tale and folklore, what if some of these spooky specters were real? That’s what Minnesota author Mary Sharratt found out when she moved to the Pendle region of Lancashire, England.

Pendle Hill is steeped in its legends of the Lancashire witches. In 1612, in one of the most meticulously documented trials in English history, seven women and two men from Pendle Forest were hanged as witches. Sharratt’s novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) interweaves well-researched historical details with a beautifully imagined story of strong women, family love, and betrayal in what the San Francisco Chronicle called “a fresh approach with witches who believe in their own power and yet, in many ways, are still innocent. Sharratt’s readers—like the magistrate who took the women’s confessions—are likely to be spellbound.”

“The wild, brooding landscape of Pendle Hill, my adopted home, gave birth to my new novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, which tells the true story of Elizabeth Southerns, cunning woman, more commonly known by her nickname, Mother Demdike,” says Sharratt. “As I sought to uncover the bones of her story, I was drawn into a lost world of mystery and magic. Every stereotype I’d held of historical witches and cunning folk was dashed to pieces. Mother Demdike became a true presence, a shining light in my life.”

DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL is now available in hardcover. The paperback will be released in January 2011.

Click here to visit Mary’s website.

Click here to view the video.

Back to School and Back to Work

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coming back to work this year, feels like coming back to school after summer. Lots of excitement for what’s to come in the year ahead. That’s what it felt like today in the office. After several sleepy weeks with New York resembling a hot, humid ghost town, everything and everyone was a-buzz with possibilities. Phone calls from editors looking for the next big book. Authors checking in to say hello. Everyone back in the office after a long weekend at the beach. What a wonderful feeling of energy, optimism and excitement. So for some it’s about new notebooks, new teachers and new outfits And for some of us it’s about new authors, new manuscripts, new books and…new outfits.

We have two BIG launches this month including Changing Shoes by Tina Sloan. Many of you will be familiar with her starring role as Nurse Lillian Raines on Guiding Light. Tina’s book will publish next week and her one-woman show by the same name will premier in New York (it is sold out here but the show will soon be traveling around the country on September 20). If you want to see a fabulous book trailer click here.

And big congratulations to Joan Frances Turner on her spectacular debut novel Dust which has published this week and is off to a tremendous start.

All good things ahead…Happy Fall!


Running a half marathon is harder than it looks…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I am many things: An improvisational cook, a skydiver, a bungee jumper, a hang-glider, a cliff-jumper, a cave explorer, a New Yorker, a reader, a dreamer, a critic, a coffee-lover, a person who can count to ten in four languages and, of course, an agent.

I am not, however, a runner.

But when my best friend and former college roommate, Katie, told me she signed up for an upcoming half marathon in Napa to raise money for Crohn’s Disease research (an often debilitating gastrointestinal disease from which Katie herself suffers), I couldn’t let her do it alone.

“I hope you’re not doing this just for me,” she said.
“I’m doing it for myself,” I said. (Lie).
“I want to get healthy.” (Half-lie).
“You have to get up at 7am Saturday mornings for training.”
“I don’t mind.” (lie so huge I even surprised myself). “But I am also doing it because I’ve seen how sick you can get and I want to support you. (The only truth). We’ll do it together.”

And I promised myself that throughout the training, I wasn’t going to complain. I didn’t complain when I had to wake up at 6am on Saturday mornings, or on the long taxi rides up to Central Park for running practice (yes, in NYC you take taxis to places in order to run), or even when our practice mileage went from 2 to 4 to 8 to 10 miles plus Harlem Hill.

On the day of the race we crossed the starting line at sunrise. Armed with a pocket Powerbar, I huffed my way through beautiful vineyards, up and down rolling hills and past red barns. In the end, it was an amazing experience, and that’s really why I did it. Writers, agents, editors—we’re all “experience addicts.” Every time I read a manuscript I’m looking to try on a new experience to satisfy my curiosity. In this case, I found out what it would be to call myself a runner. Though next time, I might just read a book about running….


A Good Book, Chilled Wine and Very Yummy Food…

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I was honored to be invited to attend my neighborhood book club this month to discuss Lunch in Paris, a memoir by Elizabeth Bard (www.elizabethbard.com). My friend Eileen happened to notice that I was thanked in the acknowledgments (who knew anyone actually read the acknowledgements) and thought it would be fun to have me join in. Twelve smart women gathered on a breezy summer evening at the beach for French wine and home made goodies right out of the book, like stuffed zucchini flowers, tabbouleh, melon in port, and mini almond cakes. What could be bad about that? It felt a bit like getting together to hear your friends talk about your children. Again, what could be bad about that? Interesting to hear how everyone felt about different aspects of Elizabeth’s life story and about the recipes. The comparisons to Eat, Pray, Love and other books make for lively conversation. It was also fun to share some of the behind-the-scenes stories like how I first met Elizabeth and what’s gone on in her life since the book came out earlier this year, including the sale of the film rights and how all that happens. The whole night was totally fun, prideful, and, I must admit, strangely narcissistic.

At the end of the evening I offered a quick pitch on some other WSA books. I came prepared with some books (everyone loves a little swag, right?) and am thrilled that Brigid Pasulka’s (www.BrigidPasulka.com)stunning debut novel A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True was chosen for next month’s selection. Happy reading…