MMarilynne Roacharilynne K. Roach works as a free-lance writer, illustrator, researcher, and presenter of talks on historical subjects. She has written for publications as varied as the Boston Globe, the New England Historic Genealogical Register, and the Lizzie Borden Quarterly. She is a member of the Gallows Hill Project that verified the correct site of the 1692 hangings, a discovery listed in Archaeology Magazine’s list of the world’s ten most important discoveries of 2017.

Q: How did you get interested in the Salem witch trials?

A: History fascinates me including the witch trial episode. I had read the few books about it that my local library owned at the time, and then, during the Bicentennial of the American Revolution when Salem published a guidebook to the city’s sites, I bought a copy and visited Salem to see for myself. I was hooked and on that first day thought I might try writing a book about the witch trials. This turned into The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.

Q: How long did that take?

A: Twenty-seven years to research, write, re-write, and send out to publishers.

Q: Didn’t you get discouraged?

A: Frequently—but I’d gone so far I didn’t want to waste all the years I’d already sunk into the project. The turning point was discovering the collections of manuscripts in the Massachusetts Archives that told what else was going on at the same time and put the stresses of the witch-scare in better context. Of course that meant completely re-writing the manuscript. It’s a good thing I didn’t know it would take twenty-seven years when I started.

Q: So has everything been said about those trials?

A: No. New bits  and pieces of information still turn up.

© Marilynne K. Roach