Are you looking for a venue for your next romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal or thriller? If so, you might want a place steeped in history, perhaps a small town surrounded by woods.
How about imagining a young woman, newly residing in just such a small town? She knows no one. Perhaps she’s psychic, or only a bit different than the townspeople, citified maybe. But what if the town is famous, or should I say infamous, for its history of a witch, one their forebears labeled as such, persecuted and killed. And they still see the ghost of that unfortunate young woman.
THE LIFE OF ELLY KEDWARD
While your story might be fictional, there is a very real place with such a history. Burkittsville, Maryland is the town that banished Elly Kedward, an Irish Catholic, from the town in the winter of 1785, labeled her as a witch. “Although her acts of witchcraft were allegedly evil in nature (she had taken small drops of blood from the local children by pricking their fingers with a very small sewing needle possibly to examine a new unidentified illness which she had discovered) the townspeople acted towards her in a way which, if possible, was even more evil than anything Elly could accomplish. They pounced on her, accusing her of being a dirty prostitute and being too reclusive and using her religion as a Catholic (the Blair residents were Protestants).”
BANISHMENT AND DEATH
“After being convicted of witchcraft, the townspeople tied Elly Kedward to a sledge and dragged her out into the woods in what was the harshest winter in human history. The townspeople led her blindfolded into the woods and tied her to a tree. There they set about abusing her, cutting all sorts of signs into her which labeled her as a witch, then the citizens pressed their palms into her wounds, and finally they left her by the tree, but they still kept coming out into the woods to see if she was dead. They kept on physically abusing her until they saw she was alive and set their dogs on her, which tore at her flesh. Then they saw she had survived every form of torture which she could undergo and finally they left her hanging by the neck in the branches of her execution tree.”
I can easily imagine how horrified and frightened Elly must have been. What a horrible death.
“Everyone believed she had died and that the witch had been punished, but her spirit was doomed not to rest: Her ghost returned the following winter and abducted half the town’s children from Blair.
A year later, children were disappearing in the same woods randomly. Afterwards, everyone fled the village of Blair, Maryland thinking Elly Kedward came back to life to haunt the village.”
THE BLAIR WITCH AND THE MOVIE
“Home of the notorious Blair Witch, pretty much no one had ever heard of this tiny town of 180 residents in Montgomery County, Maryland, before the wildly successful 1999 movie, The Blair Witch Project took place there. No one, that is, besides filmmaker Eduardo Sanches, who grew up in Montgomery County.”
FROM WIKIPEDIA – THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
“The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American psychological horror film, written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. The film was produced by the Haxan Films production company. It was pieced together from amateur footage and relates the story of three student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams) who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The viewers are told the three were never seen or heard from again, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) was discovered a year later. This “recovered footage” is presented as the film the viewer is watching.
A studio production film based on the theme of The Blair Witch Project was released on October 27, 2000 titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Another sequel was planned for the following year, but did not materialize. On September 2, 2009, it was announced that co-directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick were pitching the third film. The same-name video games were released in 2000.
It’s eleven years since the movie but “crazed fans and witch hunters passing through still ask the locals about ‘the film’s token locations’ (such as Coffin Rock and the cemetery), even though most of the film wasn’t shot in Burkittsville. It does have a cemetery and a ‘Spook Hill’ on the outskirts.”The town has capitalized on the fame of the movie but would rather distance itself. It received four wooden welcome signs, which were stolen, given by Artisan Entertainment, who replaced them with heavier metal signs, which rusted, one of them also stolen.”
A fictional town similar to Burkittsville could well be the setting for your next story. As I write this, I almost shudder and have to check out the dark corners in my apartment as I envision trying to escape the witch hunters, with perhaps only one person on my side. Of course, that could be the hero, bravely standing for your protagonist and shielding her against an angry mob.
Maybe you should keep a couple lights on tonight.
About the author: J. K. Maze grew up in Chicago, studied voice at Northwestern University, and then moved to Minnesota, where she finished her degree at Metropolitan State University, changing her major to the arts and including anything and everything to help her with her writing. She’s been writing for years, and uses all the arts, music, art and writing, in her books by way of her characters.
She joined RWA and then KOD and Lethaladies in 2005 and since has succeeded in getting three books published as ebooks. Two are part of a cozy mystery series: Murder By Mistake and Murder For Kicks, and Joan is working on the third, Murder By Spook. Murder By Mistake is now in paperback form. She recently created two blogs:
is for my character, Mollie Fenwick, the protagonist in Murder By Mistake and Murder For Kicks. The second blog,
is for other, more serious mysteries.
Joan credits her recent success to the wonderful members of Lethaladies. Aside from writing, she also enjoy painting, crocheting and singing and being with her two girls, one son and seven grandchildren.