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Questions for Katherine Howe?

Do you have questions for Katherine Howe about The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane? The author joins our discussion this week. Please respond to this message to welcome her to the boards, and start the conversation!

Distinguished Correspondent
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

[ Edited ]

Hello and welcome Ms. Howe!  First please allow me to compliment you on your novel.  It is great've done a wonderful job pulling me into the story with your seamless time shifts, fantastic descriptions of very believable characters and real history.  Brilliant!


My question is this:  As I read your book, it seems like it was so effortless for you to include real history in your story.  I have done some writing myself and have found, at times, the research that goes into a story can be tedious but an absolute must to insure accuracy.  Did you ever encounter this problem while writing and what was the best way to overcome it?   Was it easier for you to jot down thoughts and notes as they occurred to you then research as needed?  Or did you gather all your research first (history, herbs and their uses etc.) then entwine it into the story? (Oops...okay, that was more than one question.)


Thank you for allowing us to read your book and discuss it in this manner; it is incredibly courageous of you! :smileywink:   

Message Edited by DebsScott on 04-05-2009 11:58 PM
"And now Harry, let us go out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
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Distinguished Wordsmith
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Greetings Ms. Howe,


Thank you for allowing us to get a first glimpse of your debut novel.  I am enjoying the story and I am finding your characters to be very solid and believable.


My question is we, the readers, through the interludes, are privy to more information than Connie.  I hope I'm going to get my thought cohesive here, but how were you able to keep Connie's knowledge separate from what the reader already knows?  In other words, was it difficult to keep Connie ignorant of the facts until she unearths information, because sometimes I would have to say to myself "Oh, Connie doesn't know that yet".?  So, did you write the interludes first, Connie's story first or just follow through from beginning to end?


Thanks again.




"I think of a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader

"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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Welcome and questions =)

Welcome to our group, Ms. Howe! It is truly a delight to read your novel, and I thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to read it.


My question is in two parts and deals with research. Did your research for this book take a similar path to that of Connie? (Were you looking through old, dusty books for hidden treasures?) And, did you find information about your own family as you searched? Your use of two different time frames here is wonderful and adds so much to your story.


DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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Frequent Contributor
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Registered: ‎12-27-2007

Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Hi Katherine!  It has been such a privilege to read this book before it is released.  It has been so much better than I could have ever imagined.  I've been recommending it to everyone I know!  You did a great job!
Inspired Correspondent
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Hi Katherine,


Congratulations on the publication of your first novel!


I am wondering, To what extent did you use yourself in forming the character Connie? Obviously you are both grad students who have someone from the Salem witch trials in your family history. Are there any other similarities?
Inspired Correspondent
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

I have a non writing/book question. You had Connie attend Mount Holyoke for undergraduate school and I wondered why. Did you attend MH? I ask because my youngest daughter is there now, and I already had planned to pass this book to her when she comes home for the summer in May.
Distinguished Correspondent
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Registered: ‎11-02-2008

Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

HI Katherine,

I am enjoying your book and am glad to be part of this program.


I am reading the book according the the club schedule so my question may be answered later in the book. I know that this book is a work of fiction. I am from the western part of the MA. Many of us are having an issue with the state or Granna's garden having vegetables (tomatoes etc.) ready for harvest in a garden that had been abandoned for 20 years in early June on MA. This is so far from being plausible that I shook my head as I read it. It was just too perfect to have dinner just waiting to be harvested on the first night at the house Was this done on purpose or was it part of your plan for the mysterious house that time seems to have forgotten?   

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Greetings Ms Howe


I just started reading your book I am finding it quite interesting. Why did you pick this subject about witches to write on? Who inspired you to become a writer?

Inspired Wordsmith
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Hi Katherine:


My daughter and I are both signed up for this book club. I also read to my husband in the car when we take long drives. We got to around 100 pages during one of our drives and the next day while my husband was at work, I finished the book. I just had to find out what happened next. My husband came home from work that day and said, "Let's go to bed early and you can finish reading to me." Needless to say, I was in big trouble!


My husband has since finished to book and we both agreed how much we loved it. His comment was: "It was like a Harry Potter book for adults - hope she has a sequel!"


My daughter who has my 18 month old granddaughter has just finished Part 1. She called me last night and said: "I know it must be Chilton that put the circle on the door." I told her to keep reading because I was not giving any spoilers."


My husband does have a question: "Is Arlo suppose to be the same dog from the 1600's or is he a descendent from the other dog?"


Thanks again for an enjoyable read and we can't wait until your next book!


Eadie Burke



Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Ms. Howe,


I also would like to thank you for allowing us to preread your first novel.   I am enjoying it very much, and having a hard time putting it down!


I am in awe of your ability to take us from one time period to another, very flawless.  My question is do you write in one time period and then the other?  Or do you write them together to retain the flow?


Distinguished Correspondent
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Hello and welcome to the boards! I am truly grateful that you have allowed us to get a first look at your book! It is truly a wonderful read and I am excited to finish reading your book.
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Ms Howe, First let me say thank you for writing this amazing work of fiction with a fair amount of fact thrown in. I have finished the book and have enjoyed it immensely and have already contacted my library district to be sure your book gets put on our shelves for all of our members to enjoy and I will be "pushing it" to every one I know.

My question for you is, being a descendant of both a survivor and a victim is a unique perspective for you, did this influence you in your choice of career's? And also did your family growing up add to your knowledge of this or did you become interested on your own? 

Distinguished Correspondent
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Welcome to the discussion Ms. Howe and let me thank you for a wonderful read! I couldn't help finishing the book quickly because I was really enjoying it and wanted to see if my predictions were accurate. I have been trying very hard not to divulge anything to readers who haven't yet finished!


I was wondering if you knew exactly how the story was going to turn out before you began writing or if things sort of evolved as you went along. I remember hearing an interview with J.K. Rowling when she first started the Harry Potter series where she said that she had all seven books mapped out before she started and I was wondering if that was unusual.



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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

I have a silly question!


How do you pronounce Physick?


(like psychic or physic)


Fab job on your book :smileyhappy:

Distinguished Correspondent
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Thank you for joining us and taking our questions. I have enjoyed your book very much. It's absolutely fascinating.


I have a question about history. One of the most disturbing things about the Salem Trials is that a group of girls could manipulate the situation so successfully. Does history tell us anything about whether any of them eventually felt remorse for their actions or even realized that they contributed to the deaths of innocent people? I have a feeling that even though the trials ended, the belief in the devil didn't end with them.

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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

I really enjoy what I've read so far and plan to recommend the book to friends - I have been having a very hard time keeping to the 6 chapter/week limit.  Thank you for writing the book, generously partnering with Barnes & Noble in this First Look Book Club, and taking the time to answer questions.  This is wonderful!



Personal link - Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe


I'm not that familiar with the people directly involved in the Salem witch trials and am very curious as to how your family's link to Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe directly affected your own childhood and life.  Did you grow up in the New England area or did you move there during your college and graduate school years?  Are there family stories that you'd be willing to share with the group?


Have you always been interested in the period of the witch trials, in part because of the family history?  



Inspiration for the novel

Are you fond of fantasy novels and magic? How did you get the idea for your story? How did you come up with characters of Deliverance and Mercy?


Is there a particular house that inspired the description of Sophia's cottage in Marblehead?  The image of the house, its furnishings and the type of life that they had to live there was fascinating.



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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Ms. Howe, I want to say first of all that I enjoyed reading your book tremendously! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to pre-read your first novel. You have a wonderful career as a writer ahead of you. 


My questions will follow, as they are written down at home and I am at work. :smileyhappy: 


Congratulations on a great first novel!

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
-Sir Richard Steele
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Hello hello!

Hello First Lookers!


I am so excited to join in the conversation with you all today.  First, I would just like to say thank you to all of you for taking the time to read Physick Book, especially those of you for whom it might have been a bit of a departure from your usual fare. I hope that you guys have been enjoying it so far, and for those not yet finished with the story, I will do my best not to give anything away.


And now, into the fray!





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pre Scientific Revolution

[ Edited ]

Until reading your novel, I hadn't realized that the Salem witch trials and that period of history had predated the Scientific Revolution and what this actually meant. 


After reading this, it makes sense and I realize the importance of studying timelines and the cultural and belief systems of each period.  


 It had not occurred to me though what life was like before people understood causation, and germs, cells, etc.   


So aside from enjoying the story (though I really wanted to read more details on Deliverance and Mercy), this aspect of the book was the most eye opening and wonderful to me.  Thank you - it is wonderful to learn something new when you are reading for enjoymentl!

Message Edited by gl on 04-06-2009 01:24 PM