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Conversion - October 2014 > Q & A with CONVERSION author Katherine Howe - October 30th

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Penguin Teen (penguinteen) | 112 comments Mod
Katherine Howe, author of CONVERSION, will be answering your questions HERE on October 30th! Ask her anything about writing, CONVERSION, or any other question you've always wanted to ask an author.

She'll be answering your questions in the evening on October 30th.


message 2: by Cat (new) - added it

Cat | 1 comments Hi Katherine, thanks for doing this! What made you want to weave together the events at Salem with modern day issues? Was it a daunting task?


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurencdonovan) Perfect book for Halloween this week! What kind of research did you do to get all the historical aspects accurate?


message 4: by Bri (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bri | 3 comments Hi Katherine! If you could have dinner with any of your characters, who would you choose and why? Personally, I would choose Colleen-I love her strong Type A personality and drive to solve the mystery at hand :)


message 5: by Plethora (new) - added it

Plethora (bookworm_r) | 7 comments Having read both The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and Conversion you help to fill that wondering piece in history as to the Salem Witch Trials. When I was in school we briefly touched on them in history class and in English read The Crucible, but never really studied them. I love history, so am always trying to learn more. I am working my way though The Penguin Book of Witches right now as well. So feel free to throw more witch themed books out. :)

Question... Have you thought of creating a guide/book of sorts for paralleling The Crucible with actual events for those outside of your University lectures? Not all of us will be fortunate enough to sit in your class and learn first-hand from you. As a homeschool parent of a high schooler I would find this to be beneficial in the coupling of US History and Literature we are working on.


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (ewasre) | 2 comments Hi Katherine! What are you planning on being for Halloween?


Amanda | District Reads (districtreads) | 3 comments I loved that you had Colleen's class read The Crucible. Did the play inspire you to write any particular scenes?


message 8: by Alexis (new)

Alexis (abwatts) | 2 comments If you had to choose one thing for a reader to take away from your book, what would it be?


message 9: by Leah (new)

Leah Schiano | 1 comments Were there any specific books that you read as a child (or an adult!) that inspired your writing career?


Britt (notsoteenreads) | 1 comments Hi Katherine, I absolutely loved CONVERSION. I've always had a fascination with the Salem witches and having a story with a modern day parallel was so cool to read. I'd love to know what your favorite thing about witches is. Also, what was your favorite part of CONVERSION to write and what was the most difficult? Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Thanks!


message 11: by Eileen (new)

Eileen  (eileenmac28) | 1 comments Hi! We're always told, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." How much input did you have on the final cover? Also how hard was it to come up with the title? Did you know what the title would be when you started the book or did it come to you while you were writing?


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments Lauren wrote: "Perfect book for Halloween this week! What kind of research did you do to get all the historical aspects accurate?"

Hi guys! Thank you all so much for reading and discussing CONVERSION this month. I'm so psyched to be talking about it with you.

First, to answer the question about research. CONVERSION is the little sister novel to my first book, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. That story looked at Salem from a witch's point of view. I spent a lot of time researching for it, and even taught a class about it while I was planning the novel. A lot of that research is actually available in an edited volume that came out September 30. Here it is:

http://www.amazon.com/Penguin-Book-Wi...

It's a primary source reader about witchcraft in England and North America from the 1500s to the 1700s, with all introductions and endnotes written by me. A lot of the courtroom dialogue in CONVERSION is actually adapted from the real trial transcripts from Salem, many of which appear in this book.


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments Eileen wrote: "Hi! We're always told, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." How much input did you have on the final cover? Also how hard was it to come up with the title? Did you know what the title would be when ..."

I am so fortunate to work with the people at Penguin Teen, who totally rock. They very kindly showed me several different cover ideas, and this was the one that really leapt out to all of us. I personally love covers that are visually arresting, but don't necessarily tell us everything about the story.

As far as the title goes, I have to be really honest with you and confess that I am TERRIBLE at titles. Really, really awful. The original working title for The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was "Cunning Women." (Yawn.) The House of Velvet and Glass was originally called The Scrying Glass. (Huh?)

CONVERSION was my working title, and I fully expected that the title would be changed. But it wasn't! My next book has another long mouthful title, at least for now - it's called The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen. We'll see if that title survives the editorial process, though. Titles are much more difficult than one might think.


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments A wrote: "I loved that you had Colleen's class read The Crucible. Did the play inspire you to write any particular scenes?"

Thanks for your question, A. I didn't look to The Crucible for any specific scenes in CONVERSION, but I had definitely been thinking about the play for a long time. The rant that Ms. Slater says to Colleen is basically taken straight out of my own mouth when teaching the play. Not that it isn't a wonderful work of literature, which of course it is. But look at the gender politics of it. The Crucible is all about John Proctor - his desire, his honor, his bravery, his nobility. Which is all well and good, except that the real Salem panic was about *women.* I've encountered enough readers who take The Crucible for a factual representation of the trials as they happened to make me question the utility of using it to teach about the 1600s (it's great for teaching about the 1950s). The fact that Ann Putnam Jr. is written out of it speaks for itself.


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments Rachel wrote: "Hi Katherine! What are you planning on being for Halloween?"

I gave a talk for The Penguin Book of Witches earlier this month at the Salem Witch Museum, and the director there gifted me with my very own custom bespoke witch hat. It is black, with black netting, a few twigs, and a little yellow canary. I plan to wear my personal witch hat, possibly with pajama pants, and hand out candy. I'll be in costume as "a novelist who writes a lot about witches."

What are you planning to be?


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments Bri wrote: "Hi Katherine! If you could have dinner with any of your characters, who would you choose and why? Personally, I would choose Colleen-I love her strong Type A personality and drive to solve the myst..."

Ooooo! That's a great question. Colleen would be an obvious choice, though I'd worry she wouldn't be all that present, since she'd probably be worried about her homework. And I can't say Ms. Slater, because she's too similar to me, and so meeting her would probably cause a singularity that would make the universe fold in on itself.

I'd kind of like to have dinner with Jennifer Crawford, actually. She's got all the good gossip at St. Joan's. I always feel like she knows more than she's letting on.


Katherine Howe (katherinehowe) | 6 comments Britt wrote: "Hi Katherine, I absolutely loved CONVERSION. I've always had a fascination with the Salem witches and having a story with a modern day parallel was so cool to read. I'd love to know what your fa..."

Thank you, Britt. It's no secret that I spend an inordinate amount of time on research. I try to produce novels that readers can trust are really grounded in the historical record (even the magic stuff, which I base on beliefs of the time period). After I start feeling in command of my material, I'll sit down and make a big outline, using a spreadsheet. Only after that's done do I start writing the draft. The outline always changes, as characters sometimes do surprising things. Sometimes to get myself to be productive I will give myself a word count assignment. I really cranked on CONVERSION - that one had a 2000 words/day writing schedule when I was drafting. It made me pretty weird to hang out with for awhile.


message 18: by DarkAurora (last edited Nov 01, 2014 06:23AM) (new)

DarkAurora | 1 comments Hi Katherine!where do you get your ideas for your book?is it a personal experience? or is it that one of your close friends or family have had that experience?also when writing your book do you still do the things that normal people do like eat regulary and still talk to your friends?


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