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PB684
Posts: 182
Registered: ‎08-03-2007
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Re: Tomatogate, part II


Katherine_Howe wrote:

So my question for you would be, how is the Milk Street house made different, or special, by all of itsincongruent elements? How would the story have been different if it were just a regular old house?

 

KH


I LOVE the descriptions of the Milk Street house! I feel that it is a place where Connie is "transported" into the past whether she realizes it or not. I like the way the house sort of pushes her in the right directions. I like that there is no electricity and that Connie needs to light candles to read at night. The "strange" elements of the house and garden definitely give clues to the reader about what is to come. I don't think the story would have worked as well if the house were just a normal old house.

PB684:smileyhappy:

PB684
MYK
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MYK
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Re: witchcraft and belief


luvmykiddos wrote:
Sorry I thought I had quoted Katherine's post with her question to us in my previous post. FYI so there is no confusion as to where I was coming from!
Katherine_Howe wrote:

Hello hello!

 

A couple of people have asked if I, myself, believe in witchcraft in the real world. This is definitely a tempting question to ask. However, I worry that if I answered, it might change the way you read the book. Instead, this is another one that I would prefer to hear answered by First Lookers.

 

Do you all believe in witchcraft, however we might understand it to be?

 

KH


 


 

I DO!
MYK
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MYK
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Re: Arlo-ology


PB684 wrote:

                                       ***SPOILER*** 

 

eadieburke wrote:

 

As for Arlo, I would actually be curious to open that question up to the board. When does Arlo (or Dog) usually turn up in the story? Does your husband think he's the same dog? What evidence is there in the story in favor or against?

 

KH


I just checked with my husband and he thinks it is the same dog or some type of spirit of the dog from the 1600's.

 

The descriptions of all the dogs in the 1600's and 1991 seem very similiar and the dog just seems to appear and disappear at times.

 

Jonas in the prologue remarks that he did not notice the dog at first. Arlo seems to find Connie while coming out of a bush. When Liz and Connie arrive at the Milk St. house, Arlo seems to disappear into the shadows and finds the gate. Mercy just happens upon Dog while in her garden picking peas. While Connie and Sam are swimming, Arlo is guarding her towel and then Arlo seems to fade to the pale moonlit color of the fog. Arlo seems to be Connie's protector too. He is in the house while Sam is there and also helps Connie fight off Chilton. Dog was also with Mercy at the time of Deliverance's hanging. Then at the end of the book, a dog is seen sleeping next to a headstone with a faint letter D as the first letter of the name and suddenly the dog disappeared.

 

Too many coincidences of the dog appearing and disappearing at different times. Seems like a ghost to me.

 


Thank you Eadie for putting this so well. I was just re-reading a few different parts of the book today because I wanted to find evidence of Arlo relating to the other women in the past and you have listed most of them. The only other one I will add is on page 239 ("Once the light reached the headboard the dog vanished, leaving a dust billow on the quilt in his wake, reapearing a few minutes later at the doorway into the kitchen..."). The first time I read that my mouth dropped open with happy surprise. I actually re-read it because I wasn't sure if I was correct, then I wrote a note saying "Arlo disappears ?!" in the margin. Now that I am re-reading certain parts it seems so clear that Arlo/Dog are the same magical creature. I also loved the passage on page 261--"Out of the deepening darkness in the house the form of Dog coalesced in Deliverance's lap." I think my dog must do this as well...one minute he is asleep on the living room couch, the next he is asleep on my bed, then asleep in the kitchen...does anyone notice a pattern?:smileyvery-happy:

PB684

Message Edited by rkubie on 04-06-2009 11:13 PM

 

I looked at Arlo's coming and going as though he was not literally vanishing in his own form..more like Connie's thoughts were going elsewhere. As if "she" was fading in and out. I, as my dogs person, often lose track of her!! <shrug>    I guess I can choose. Hmm..I like Arlo being magical. When I'm done with the book, I'll see if I have a revision for Arlo. Good conversation fellow FR's!!  I'm liking this sooo much!  MYK
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PB684
Posts: 182
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Re: madrakes in the garden


Katherine_Howe wrote:

I gather there are a number of gardeners here in First Look. Any especially unusual garden stories you all can share?

 

KH


Hello again Katherine,

 

I live on Long Island and I believe that the property I live on was once farmland. I have an ever increasing amount of wild onions growing in my lawn and my planter beds. No matter how many I pull up there are always twice as many to replace them. When I mow the lawn it smells like I am cooking...not entirely unpleasant:smileyvery-happy: We have just dug up a small patch of ground in my yard where we intend to grow vegetables this year...maybe you have a spell for keeping my dog out of the garden!

PB684

PB684
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: witchcraft and belief

I believe that there are some people with special gifts and witch or witchcraft is just a name used to identify them and what they do with their special talents. I don't think that it is necessarily negative or frightening but rather something we don't understand yet.

twjKatherine_Howe wrote:

Hello hello!

 

A couple of people have asked if I, myself, believe in witchcraft in the real world. This is definitely a tempting question to ask. However, I worry that if I answered, it might change the way you read the book. Instead, this is another one that I would prefer to hear answered by First Lookers.

 

Do you all believe in witchcraft, however we might understand it to be?

 

KH


 

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Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: grad school order of operations

Your answer certainly helps me understand the process and I now have a new found admiration for anyone who completes the work involved in a PhD.

 

Here's another quick comment while I'm here.  Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors and as you know his stories take place in Boston.  What are they putting in the drinking water up there to produce such prolific writers?!  Physick Book is really amazing.  A real original and I've been recommending it to every book lover I know.  Much success to you in your endeavors and I'll be looking to read more from you in the future.

 


Katherine_Howe wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:

Hello again Ms. Howell,

 

A little off topic but..........

As one who ended her college career at Baccalaureate, can you please tell me what would have happened had Connie not passed her orals?  She ponders on page 9 that if  she looks "in the shelves of her mind and finds them empty"............"she would pack her bags and go home."  Would that be the end for a Master's candidate and what would her options be at that time after investing so much monetarily and in time?

 

Thanks,


This is an excellent question.

 

A humanities PhD has three major stages. First is coursework, which lasts about two or three years. After finishing coursework a student usually gets a master's degree "in course," which just means along the way. Then the student must take the general exam. This requirement varies from school to school and program to program, but it's generally the midpoint. In the old days if a PhD student failed the exam, she would have to leave the program (but with a master's degree, so it's not the end of the world). These days they usually don't let you sit for the exam if they don't think you will pass. After the qualifying exam, a PhD student is "advanced to candidacy" and starts working on a dissertation, which is like writing an original nonfiction book. The national average for length of time for a PhD is about seven years from beginning to end.

 

So when we meet Connie, she is right at the big midpoint of her career as a graduate student.

 

I hope that this helps!

 

KH


 

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as 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.
Voltaire
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Tomatogate, part II

I have been trying to imagine the book written with a warm and fuzzy Granna house, perhaps situated on a more normal main street which simply needed basic repairs and some airing out. I can't imagine It. It is the house in all its glory of disrepair and strangeness that introduces the spectre of magic into the story. It is the element that makes Deliverance believable and that leads Connie to Sam and he leads to so many other avenues of exploration. The shelves of bottles, the visions etc. would not be as plausible in another setting. The house seems to be a conduit to all sorts of revelations. Yup, I like the house even with the discrepancies it calls to mind.
twj
 
Katherine_Howe wrote:

 

So my question for you would be, how is the Milk Street house made different, or special, by all of itsincongruent elements? How would the story have been different if it were just a regular old house?

 

KH


 

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cornwall
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Re: Tomatogate, part II

Hello Ms. Howe,

I've just finished Part One (would love to sit and read the whole book right now, but with kids, work, the usual household drugery, it's not possible, sadly), and have really enjoyed it so far. You are a really talented writer. Having gone through a brutal PhD defense, I really got Connie, and all the emotions that go along with that particular course of study. As soon as I get these kids to bed and the dishwasher unloaded, I'm back in my chair with your fabulous story!

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adopted1
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

There is no better gift than the gift of trust. I want to thank you for trusting us First Look(ers) enough to delve into a new learning experience. This book is one that I will read again. I have recommended it to all my booklover friends as well as a few others I know that love history (fact or fiction). I can't thank you enough for giving us this opportunity. I is an absolute pleasure.

I was born in Boston and was raised in Cambridge. I used to cut through Harvard yard on my way to high school! Oh the memories!!! I took a few classes in the summer at Harvard when I was a Junior and Senior in High School. It was a College Prep program that was sponsered by Harvard. I had a wonderful time. SOme of the students were our teachers and tutors. Thank you for bringing back to my memory a part of my life that I will cherish forever.

I finished the book in a day and a half (only because I had to sleep). I just couldn't put it down!!!! I love the built in book mark too!

Question:
I was wondering about the personalities of the characters. Are they based on the people you dealt with while at Harvard or are they completely made up? Was Liz your roomate by another name? Professors Chilton, Silva, Beaumont, and Smith; were these actually profs that you had in your studies at some point? Was Sam an old boyfriend?

Again, thank you for a fabulous read!!
adopted1
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Katherine_Howe
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Re: Tomatogate, part II


cornwall wrote:

Hello Ms. Howe,

I've just finished Part One (would love to sit and read the whole book right now, but with kids, work, the usual household drugery, it's not possible, sadly), and have really enjoyed it so far. You are a really talented writer. Having gone through a brutal PhD defense, I really got Connie, and all the emotions that go along with that particular course of study. As soon as I get these kids to bed and the dishwasher unloaded, I'm back in my chair with your fabulous story!


Thank you for the kind words, Cornwall! I hope that you enjoy Part II as well.

 

And kudos to you on completing your defense. That is a huge accomplishment!

 

I like to leave the dishwasher for the elves. But they've really been slacking lately.

 

KH

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Katherine_Howe
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a word on characters


adopted1 wrote:
There is no better gift than the gift of trust. I want to thank you for trusting us First Look(ers) enough to delve into a new learning experience. This book is one that I will read again. I have recommended it to all my booklover friends as well as a few others I know that love history (fact or fiction). I can't thank you enough for giving us this opportunity. I is an absolute pleasure.

I was born in Boston and was raised in Cambridge. I used to cut through Harvard yard on my way to high school! Oh the memories!!! I took a few classes in the summer at Harvard when I was a Junior and Senior in High School. It was a College Prep program that was sponsered by Harvard. I had a wonderful time. SOme of the students were our teachers and tutors. Thank you for bringing back to my memory a part of my life that I will cherish forever.

I finished the book in a day and a half (only because I had to sleep). I just couldn't put it down!!!! I love the built in book mark too!

Question:
I was wondering about the personalities of the characters. Are they based on the people you dealt with while at Harvard or are they completely made up? Was Liz your roomate by another name? Professors Chilton, Silva, Beaumont, and Smith; were these actually profs that you had in your studies at some point? Was Sam an old boyfriend?

Again, thank you for a fabulous read!!

Thank you, Adopted1! I am so glad that you enjoyed the book. With the world being the way it is, maybe a little escapism was in order. Did you go to Rindge and Latin....?

 

The characters borrow from a lot of different places, but no one to one correspondences. I am fortunate to have a lot of great Lizzes in my life, one of whom has her exact job. Chilton was made up completely (though his accent was borrowed from departed family members). Sam has a job similar to a former neighbor, looks a lot like a friend, goes to my graduate school, and has my husband's sense of humor. None of my former students are anything like Thomas, thankfully. 

 

Someone asked a few posts back who I pictured playing Sam and Connie in a film. To be honest I hadn't gotten that far. However, while writing I did have trouble seeing Connie for awhile, maybe because we do have traits in common. I had finally gotten a handle on her when we saw this one particular film, and my husband and I turned to each other and said "It's Connie!"

 

Before I tell you who she was, and in what film, I'm curious to hear how you all have been picturing the characters. Who do Connie, Sam, Janine, Chilton, Liz, Deliverance, and Mercy look like to you? I suspect everyone's pictures are different.

 

KH

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Readingrat
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

First off, thanks for writing this wonderful book.  I've really been enjoying it.  Several things have struck me while reading, the first was how different historical research is from scientific research.  I never thought before how something like local dialects could send your research off onto unexpected tangents.  For me, a good measure of the success of a historical fiction work is how interested I get in finding out exactly where that line between history and fiction lies.  That's one reason why it's so nice having you here to answer all our questions.

 

Most of my musings have already been addressed here except one.  In the story, Connie tells Chilton, that there are "no surviving colonial North American examples of any book or instructional text for practicing witchcraft".  I was wondering not only if that statement is a fact, but also if you know whether any book or instructional text exists from colonial times for practicing and preparing folk medicine (which, in 1692, seems to be considered not all that much different from witchcraft).

 

Thanks,

Elaine

 

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joyfull
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎03-10-2009
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Thank you for allowing me to read the advanced copy of your novel. I am honored. I've already told quite a few people about it. Actually, I've been bragging about my good fortune. I planning to write a review for my blog in the next few weeks. I hope that is okay?

 

I am amazed that this is your first novel. Where did you learn to write so well? Is it a gift or a well-trained skill?  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Margot
My blog: JoyfullyRetired.com
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TRJ4SQ
Posts: 193
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Dear Ms. Howe, I would like to commend you on a most interesting and stimulating novel! It is one of the best pieces of historical fiction I have read in quite a while.

 

My apologies if this question has already been asked. I must confess that I was rather excited with the prospect of it and neglected to read the previous questions before posting.

 

I was wondering if the basis of the story structure is formed on Jung's Synchronicity and The Collective Unconscious Principles? If so, do his theories on Psychology & The Occult also figure in?

 

I look forward to your reply and as well as your next book!

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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: witchcraft and belief


luvmykiddos wrote:
Witchcraft,however we all understand it to be, I believe is real and true to an extent. And I think  real and true  depends upon the individual and what they want it to personally be for themselves. Witchcraft historically I think was a lot of ignorance and fear.  These days I think it has a whole new meaning. As a Christian, I was hesitant to read your book wondering what avenue you would take in your writing. Would you be completely into the sorcery  and spell aspect of it all? I was pleasantly surprised. You took a great avenue relaying facts weaved in with a good story line. And I appreciate that. No matter ones beliefs things were what they were back then and I loved reading your approach to them!

I think and believe there were health workers, that God helped save a person. A person maybe  God wasn't ready to let go with his mercy wanted that person to live longer with his divine power he makes a way to have this happen.I do not feel they were of the devil's making. I believe they were here like Angels or maybe they were angels. And to help others see messages from God. 

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DSaff
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Re: Tomatogate, part II

I love the house! It seems to have hidden itself well over the years, but the right person, actually Arlo, can find it. I think it is a protective, safe place for Connie. She seems to feel at home there. The garden facinates me and seems filled with not only food, but items needed for medicinal, etc., purposes. The story wouldn't be the same without this wonderful, personable home.

 


Katherine_Howe wrote:

So my question for you would be, how is the Milk Street house made different, or special, by all of itsincongruent elements? How would the story have been different if it were just a regular old house?

 

KH


 

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
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
MYK
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MYK
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎03-24-2009

Re: mandrakes in the garden


Katherine_Howe wrote:

MYK wrote:

I see you already answered the question on how long the book took to write.

 

Another Question: How did you come upon the idea of a mandrake? In just some prior reading? Very interesting plant. Known to supposedly have animal life. I found it appropriate that Arlo found it! I wonder if it really could actually scream. Are you much of a gardener? Do you find any qualities in yourself that you can relate to your past relatives, such as do you have a herb garden or do you find yourself seeking natural remedies?:smileywink:

 

Thanks..

MYK


Hi MYK!

 

Thank you so much for reading Physick Book. I'm glad that you are enjoying it.

 

As part of my research, I read a fair amount of sources, both antique and contemporary, about magical beliefs around specific plants and herbs. Mandrakes come up again and again - the comment about dogs being used to dig them up that appears in the book actually came from my research, not from my imagination. I'm told they figure largely in the Harry Potter books, and a mandrake was in the recent film "Pan's Labyrinth."

 

Until last summer, I hadn't had a house of my own before, and so didn't know if I was much of a gardener or not! But last year we planted many kinds of herb and tomato, and the tomatoes especially took over a good percentage of the yard. We also discovered a few unusual things already growing in our garden, including both echinachea and wolfsbane. Then the turnips started coming in, and things really got out of hand.

 

I think this year will be the heirloom carrot year. But we shall see.

 

I gather there are a number of gardeners here in First Look. Any especially unusual garden stories you all can share?

 

KH


 

Ahh..That's right. Pan's Labyrinth...I did see that movie!!  Like Connie..I couldn't remember where I'd come across mandrakes before.

 

I know it may not be a "especially unusual story" but for some reason, I am especially amazed when I plant something.Generally considered very dead, and a year or even two later..i will see a plant bloom from it.(hope) This particular plant I speak of is called "Bleeding Heart".  My garden has years of Easters Lily's, lilac's, azalea's. All given as gifts, planted with love..It's more like a wild garden. Like myself. When I haven't time or I'm feeling low. I feel it seems to know. It is like an artist, my art. My magical place. P.S.. I enjoy the views of Wiccan. Not practicing. I find the views of different beliefs so interesting.

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chris227
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Hi Katherine.  First I wanted to thank you for giving us the opportunity to preview your book and for spending the next couple of weeks talking with us.  Next I want to say that I love the book so far and I will definitely be recommending it to others. 

 

Now for my questions, first the book is just filled with great imagery.  Are there any authors or novels that you drew inspiration from?

 

Also, you have managed to create such vivid characters that I feel that I know them all personally.  I know several people have commented on the boards that the characters remind them of themselves, others they know, or TV characters.  Did any of your friends, family, or colleagues inspire these characters?

 

Thank you again,

Christina

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kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?

Ms. Howe,

It was fun to read that another reader and her daughter are participating in this on-line discussion.  My daughter and I are both loving your book.  She has finished it and I am very close. 

 

My question has to do with all of the mother/daughter connections in your book.  When you started your book did you have a sense of how you were going to connect Connie to the past through all of the mothers and daughters?

 

I also wanted to compliment you on this book.  You had me from the first couple of pages and since then I haven't wanted to put it down.  I hope you have a second book in mind.

 

Kathy 

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kpatton
Posts: 206
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Re: Questions for Katherine Howe?


godslioness wrote:

I have a silly question!

 

How do you pronounce Physick?

 

(like psychic or physic)

 

Fab job on your book :smileyhappy:


I had a related question.  How did you decide on this spelling or is this a term I am unfamiliar with?

Kathy