In my upcoming novel, Bewitching Hannah, the reader will get to see historic Annapolis through the eyes of my main character, sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald, a most reluctant Chesapeake witch.
The first sight Hannah encounters on her return to Annapolis is Witch’s Grave in Truxton Park. According to local lore, the crooked tree marks the burial site of three witches who were hung and buried there. She’s reminded that being a witch, even if she doesn’t want to be one, can be a dangerous business with a deadly outcome.
The next stop is Main Street and McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar in downtown Annapolis. Hannah makes lots of stops along Main Street, and off of Main is McGarvey’s, the perfect restaurant for my reluctant witch to order her favorite Annapolitan snack–a crab dip pretzel (click this link for the recipe).
Hannah and her aunt then attend a Chesapeake witches meeting at McDowell Hall on St. John’s College campus. The exquisitely restored interior of McDowell Hall resembles a colonial meetinghouse and is the perfect place for a gathering of the coven, don’t you agree?
Hannah’s best friend, Mateo, is a boy of Incan descent who is in touch with nature. He invites Hannah to join him at Quiet Waters Park to search for his animal spirit guide. The park contains three hundred and forty acres of woods, grassy areas, and beaches. During their adventure, she happens to find her witch’s familiar, a white raven. Ravens are known as messengers and this one symbolizes the fulfillment of a prophecy. Fun fact–the cover art for the book depicts this scene.
Beautiful Brice House on East Street, built in 1766, is featured in the novel because the head of the coven, Mallory Blackstone, is the fictional president of Historic Annapolis and those offices are located at Brice House. Hannah makes a few stops here to deal with her nemeses and even peers into the gardens of Paca House.
If you’ve ever driven over the Severn River Bridge from Annapolis you may have noticed the cliffs on your right. The Severn River cliffs and Winchester Pond are the backdrops for an Incan endurance test and a ferocious wolf attack. *Spoiler Alert–Hannah mysteriously survives the wolf attack with help from William Calvert, but this only leads to more questions about the dark secret he’s hiding.
There is one stop outside of Annapolis that is worthy of a shoutout in Bewitching Hannah—Baltimore House at Riverdale Park. The reason this place is special is not because of the house, but rather the grounds. Several Calvert descendants are interred in the cemetery there and a few fictional witches from Annapolis take it upon themselves to unearth a Calvert family secret during their fiendish field trip.
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church is the setting for a scene where a mysterious clue leads Hannah to William Bladen’s sarcophagus in the cemetery. FYI-William Bladen was the Attorney General who oversaw the last Maryland witch trial in 1712. Let’s just say all kinds of magic ensues.
Every Annapolitan knows that Ego Alley is the harbor downtown where seagulls flock above visitors’ boats and tourists follow the scent of Old Bay seasoning in search of steamed blue crabs. It’s also the perfect spot for Hannah’s two love interests to face off.
Charles Carroll House, situated behind St. Mary’s Church off Spa Creek, is the setting for the final climactic scene that begins with a celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Annapolis Tea Party. (Anyone seen the painting, The Burning of the Peggy Stewart? Yup–that tea party.) The coven prophecy calls for one young witch’s death…will it be Hannah’s? Under a spectacular blood moon/lunar eclipse, Hannah discovers who her true enemy is at Charles Carroll House. She has to summon all her inner strength and magic, but she isn’t sure that will be enough to save herself and the ones she loves from her nefarious rival.
“Good. Now, I need you to deliver that.” My aunt gestured toward a pretty, white gift bag on the main counter.
“Sure. Rusty’s in the back, right?” The moped wore a coat of red flaky dust, but was a ton of fun to ride.
“You can walk. It’s not that far.”
“Where to?” I grabbed a broom from the back and swept up bits of snipped greenery and fallen petals. She reached in the pocket of her bell-bottom pants and handed me the name and business address.
“Mallory Grey Blackstone, Historic Annapolis offices at Brice House on Forty-Two East Street,” I said, reading the information out loud. “Her daughter’s Emme, right?”
“You met her?”
“At school today.”
“Her mother heads the historic foundation, among other things.”
I guessed that was how she knew so much about everyone that mattered, although I still didn’t know how we ended up on her VIP list. “Wait. Her middle name is Grey?”
“Yes, it’s her maiden name. Why?” Her tone implied unnecessary suspicion.
“Doesn’t her family have something to do with the urban legend of the Arundell Curse Mom told me about when I was little?”
She hesitated. “It’s historic lore more than urban legend.”
My eyes widened. “So you know it?”
A spark of knowledge glimmered in her brown eyes. “Yes, I know it. The night of October nineteenth, seventeen seventy-four, the Peggy Stewart ship laden with British tea was docked in Annapolis Harbor and set ablaze. During the tea party, a local patriot was injured. His love—a beautiful Fitzgerald witch, who happened to be your seventh great aunt—attended him. The head of the coven foresaw the offense and quickly discovered the young witch and her forbidden mate. She had broken a serious coven rule so the Grey witch cast the Arundell Curse upon the forbidden ordinary. The curse ensured that if the two stayed together their progeny would forever bear the horrendous scars of her transgression. The irony is that the Grey witch didn’t realize that by imparting the spell with such blackness in her heart she also cursed her own descendants. You see, the Arundells born bearing the curse feel terrible pain when they’re near a Grey. The only way to quell that pain is to remove the source of it…permanently.”
I shuddered. “I still have strange dreams about that story.”
She tilted her head. “You do?” There was a hint of nervousness in her voice.
Just last night, I thought. “Yeah. I never understood why Mom liked that one so much.”
“Maybe it’s because stories like that impart valuable lessons.” She frowned in grim silence. “Speaking of the Peggy Stewart, did you know the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Annapolis Tea Party is in a few weeks?”
The Read Local Challenge, presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), is a reading incentive program featuring traditionally-published books by authors and illustrators who live in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Schools, classes, book clubs, and even individuals can win autographed books and free Skype visits from authors by reading picture books, middle grade, or young adult books by local authors between October 2017-May 2018.
This fall, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is also offering schools the opportunity to host a FREE Read Local kickoff party with one or more of the authors, including myself, featured in the challenge. For more information and a full list of the challenge books, please visit http://mddewv.scbwi.org/read-local/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My next enchanting novel, BEWITCHING HANNAH, is on its way from Mirror World Publishing! Mirror World has a reputation for publishing fantastic fiction, and I’m thrilled to be working with them again.
The young adult fantasy, set in present-day Annapolis, Maryland (lots of scenes are set at the historic sites in my hometown), focuses on Hannah Fitzgerald, a sixteen-year-old Chesapeake witch. And even if being a witch sounds super cool, it’s the last thing she wants.
Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant, who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.
Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.
The book is available now on Amazon. If you haven’t had a chance to read my first novel, DISENCHANTED, you can find it on Amazon, BN.com, and Mirror World Publishing.
The Chesapeake region is known for blue crabs, sailing, and the U.S. Naval Academy. However, Maryland’s past is cloaked in a dark secret–an intriguing and rarely mentioned history of witches.
In 1635, the state adopted the Witchcraft Act of 1604 that declared witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Rebecca Fowler suffered the worst fate due to this law. She was accused by a fellow indentured servant of hexing him prior to an injury. She was arrested, tried by a jury, and hung at the gallows. Hannah Edwards faced similar charges, but luckily escaped the noose.
In 1665, Elizabeth Bennett (not that Elizabeth Bennet!) was caught making charms, casting enchantments, and delving into general sorcery. Philip Calvert, the fifth Governor of Maryland and the son of the first Lord Baltimore, charged her with witchcraft, but her neck was spared from the gallows by an acquittal. What’s ironic is that the Calverts were descended from the royal Grey bloodline (Queen Jane Grey’s family) who were known for delving into magic and alchemy. Also, another famous Maryland family, the Arundells (Anne Arundell married into the Calverts) were related to the Irish Wizard Earl, Gerald Fitzgerald, a famous magician and alchemist.
Around 1697, the Chesapeake witch, Moll Dyer of Leonardtown, was driven from her home when locals set it on fire. She raced into the winter’s night and died from exposure with her hand frozen to a boulder. According to witchlore, her handprint remains frozen in time and can be seen on the boulder as a reminder of darker days. The land where she lived is known to be cursed and reports of a woman’s ghost haunting the area abound.
In 1712, Virtue Violl starred in the very last state trial for practicing her craft. William Bladen, Maryland’s first Attorney General, oversaw the trial where she was charged with harming an elderly neighbor by striking her tongue lame, however, a lack of proof forced the jury to acquit her. Interesting fact–William Bladen is buried at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Church Circle. Sounds like a cool setting for a scene in a witch novel…hint, hint.
Ever heard of Witch’s Grave? Not many Annapolitans even know the place or the legend. A gnarled, slanted tree overhanging the bank of Spa Creek marks Witch’s Grave. At the base of the tree lies a crypt where three unnamed witches were buried. Local lore has it that two of them were hung and one was burned. Their tortured ghosts are known to haunt the area and anyone who summons them from their final resting place.
The Chesapeake area’s dark witch history inspires questions. Were these women deeply connected to nature or was there magic in their blood? Does Moll Dyer’s tortured spirit still search for the men who chased her out of her home? And is it possible the Chesapeake witches’ descendants quietly carry on the practice of their ancestors’ craft today, including the casting of spells and the breaking of curses? What I can tell you is this–I’m descended from a seventeenth century Chesapeake witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, and I love the idea of casting these kinds of powerful females into my enchanting ever-afters.
My upcoming novel, Bewitching Hannah (Fall 2017), is set in present-day Annapolis and will answer some of these unsettling questions.
Witch’s Grave, Annapolis, Maryland
Image of Annapolis from: http://www.tourist-destinations.com/2015/03/annapolis-md.html
Image of Witch Moll Dyer from: https://historywitch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moll3.jpg
Pictures of Witch’s Grave from: http://tobaccoland.blogspot.com/2011/03/witchs-grave-in-truxton-park-annapolis.html
For Immediate Release
June 1, 2015: The print release for Disenchanted, based on the Wethersfield Witches, is June 1, 2015.
A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…Suspenseful, dark, romantic, and brimming with old magic, Disenchanted captures the intrigue of New England’s witchlore.
Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for—a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.
Author Name: Leigh Goff
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
ISBNs: Print Book~ 978-0-9920490-9-6
Number of Pages: 264
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1FeknM1
Permission to Forward Granted
About the Author:
Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Annapolis, Maryland where she is inspired by the city’s great history.
She graduated from the University of Maryland, University College and is a member of the Severna Park YA Writers’ Group, Maryland Writers’ Association, and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council.
For review copies or to arrange an interview, blog visit, or event with the author please visit her website.
“Till so for ways of witchery,
And arts of darkness famed
In all the land, that he at last
‘The Wizard Earl’ was named.”
– From The Wizard Earl-A Legend of Kilkea Castle
Greys & Alchemy
1400s: Henry de Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Codnor and a blood relation to Queen Jane Grey is said to have been extremely interested in alchemy, going so far as to garner the King’s permission to transmute mercury into silver or gold. In 1478, concerned with the power Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare held in Ireland, the King dismissed the earl as Lord Deputy and appointed Henry de Grey in his place.
Fitzgeralds & Alchemy
In 1530, Henry’s relative, Lady Elizabeth Grey married the 9th Earl of Kildare, who was thought to be a warlock, and they produced a son, Gerald FitzGerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare, who was commonly known as the Wizard Earl for his fascination with alchemy, metallurgy, and ancient magic. He is said to have had magical powers, which allowed him to transform himself into a blackbird. The FitzGerald bloodline includes the magic from Áine, the Irish goddess of summer. She is associated with the Fitzgeralds through marriage to the 3rd Earl of Kildare. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Grey,_4th_(7th)_Baron_Grey_of_Codnor#cite_note-13)
Henry de Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Codnor (1400s) related to Sir John de Grey- Ancestor to
Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset
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Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess Eleanor Grey Elizabeth Grey
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Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk Sir Thomas Arundell G. FitzGerald, Wizard Earl
Queen Jane Grey Sir Thomas Arundell
Sir Matthew Arundell
Sir Thomas Arundell
Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore