Helen Duncan was the last woman convicted for witchcraft in England, long, long ago in 1944. Wait a minute! That’s not long, long ago. That’s barely ‘ago.’ It’s a pretty weird story. Apparently she knew about a couple of ship sinkings before the British public, and she said it was because of her powers as a Spiritualist and Medium. OK. Well, yea sure, but no one really believes in that stuff, do they? I mean no one without a serious drug habit, right?
Turns out Spiritualism, the religion that believed the dead could be contacted, had two big historical moments. The first was the first half of the nineteenth-century and the second was between World War I and World War II. So Helen Duncan was this poor woman with too many kids and a slacker husband (what were the chances?) and after The Great War she quit her job and became a medium. She earned her money pretending to talk dead relatives (or really talking to them if you want to believe that), many of whom had died in the first World War.
Then in 1941 she knew about the sinking of the HMS Barham when she shouldn’t have and she said it was because she saw it in a vision. The thing was, the Barham was sunk by a German U-boat and the Germans didn’t know they’d sunk it so Churchill wanted the sinking kept secret. EXCEPT, he let the war department tell the families of the 830 dead sailors. So that’s never very secret, right? NOPE! Helen probably knew because a family member told her—unless you believe some people can talk to the dead, then you go with that theory.
So come early 1944 and the English govt. is all worked up cause they’ve got D-Day planned, but they need to keep it secret from the Axis and some dumb ass gets it in his head that Helen Duncan, famous spirit medium, might spill the beans. Really dude? So they put her on trial, can’t convict her of treason, cause there’s no real proof, so they convict her of witchcraft and put her in jail until after D-Day. You know, so it’ll be secret. The things men do to women….
So I’m doing that research this week, while at the same time doing final proofing and formatting for Iron Widow, which oddly enough is a book about 1860s Spiritualism. See? Funny how life is…. This latest Kate novel is based on a real case Allan Pinkerton had in the 1870s and wrote about in the 1880s, but I made it a Kate case and turned the
“Black Widow” Allan wrote about into a not-so-black widow, or Iron Widow--iron being a color of grey. Clever, huh? I certainly like to think so.
I think it's a pretty good book, so you know, you should read it. People always ask me where they can find my books? Where do you find everything? Amazon. Iron Widow will be out as a print book and an ebook (kindle book) Monday, July 15th. Look for it at an Amazon link near you.