Research for Beyond the Burning Time

Why did I write the book?

I live in Massachusetts, and I had gone out to Salem many times on my own, on school trips with my kids, and I didn't like the way it was presented. I didn't like the billboards showing witches on broomsticks flying across the moon. And I thought, “This is cheapening what was a terrible tragedy, and a shameful moment in our history.” And I knew there were descendents of some of those people in the area. And I thought, “Suppose we treated the Holocaust this way — like some tourist attraction.” I hated the fact there was a witchcraft shop out there, and I decided I really wanted to find out about it. So, that was easy to do — because Massachusetts doesn't throw away any scrap of paper. They had all the transcripts of the trial — and I delved into it, and read the more recent scholarly work. And you realize that at the bottom of it all was a lot of economics — people feeling they'd been cheated by their neighbors or relatives. I think it was a terrible moment, and it could recur — people want to blame others for their problems.

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