Elizabeth was the first in the Evening Wolves series. I set this story in the early 1950s, because at that time, parts of rural England were still quite isolated and its inhabitants somewhat backward in their attitudes. Given that there had been a prosecution of witchcraft as late as 1944, there were still pockets around the British Isles harbouring a belief in the Devil and his followers. So, put a beautiful, young, single women into a small, remote village in North Yorkshire and, as the stranger in their midst, Elizabeth was a perfect target for jealousy, sexual fantasy and a victim for the zealots.
Why the witchcraft angle?
I had a story in my mind of a young woman going to live in a small community in North Yorkshire (where some my ancestors came from on my great grandfather’s side) and the problems she encountered. At the same time, I was researching some local witch hunting and torture stories and these, and my Elizabeth tale, just joined up. I then went on to do much more research into the witch trials of the 1600s, and after finishing my first book, decided (with the encouragement of my daughter) to write prequels, going back, eventually, to that dreadful period in history, when so many innocent people, especially women, were accused, tortured and murdered for being so-called ‘witches’.
Getting some justice
After learning about the dreadful treatment of these poor, guiltless, ordinary folk, I thought of a situation where the lead characters in my stories could come out on top, rather than be the victims of cruelty and abuse from those in power. Elizabeth, and all her ancestors in the books that followed, are accused of evil doings. But the reader is never quite sure if the things that happen around them were of their making or not. They were all ‘cunning folk’, a description of healers; those giving out herbal remedies, as well as those performing the task of midwives. But did they cause the deaths of their attackers and enemies? That question is never really answered in any of the books. However, many of my readers have expressed their hope that they did kill off the odd nasty person, who always deserved it … of course!
Historical fiction and historical facts
Even though the books in the Evening Wolves series are fiction, they had to be set in a period and what happened during that time needed to be written down as accurately as possible. Everything, such as names used during those years, the food eaten, living conditions, illnesses, education, law and its enforcers, how people lived and died … all these important details needed to be researched and then weaved into my stories.