Witch Hunt in the 21st Century – Guest Post by Devin O’Branagan

In my post, Real Stories I Wish Were JUST Witchy Fiction, I told you about a novel that “made me cry three times: out of fiery rage, out of joy, and out of pure sadness.”

Two months passed before I read Mrs. B.’s accounts of how she was harassed by a lady whose name I refuse to add to my blog because negativity is a nasty virus. I couldn’t finish reading that lady’s post in one sitting—it made me that upset. In a nutshell, it said that she couldn’t believe women calling themselves Witches were allowed to participate in certain contest. It invited those who shared her views and faith to speak up and push the Witches to the shadows where they belonged…

I am extremely happy to say her attempt at a 21st century witch hunt backfired—Witches, other Pagans, and people from all religions have said NO to that woman’s intolerance.  My Wicked Darlings that is the power of information charged with the magic of our voices and will; and because facts don’t always reach our brains and hearts via nonfiction, I’ve invited Devin O’Branagan, the author of Witch Hunt, to tell us a bit about a novel that rings so true I’ve added it to my must read witchy books.

Now, my luvs, I give you the wise words of author Devin O’Branagan:
    
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My bestselling novel, Witch Hunt, was first published in 1990 by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books. It was a novel that explored the possibility of a modern witch hunt. At the time, it seemed like it really could happen.

The 1980’s were the heyday of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, as well as an uber-conservative political and social climate in America. The Christian “born again” message was one of fear, expectation of the Second Coming of Christ, and extreme judgment of anyone who didn’t fit the “born again” mold. I became fearful about where it was leading.

The book that was considered America’s first bestseller was the 17th Century Day of Doom by charismatic New England Puritan minister, Michael Wigglesworth. It was an epic poem about the Second Coming of Christ and the horrors of Judgment Day. It created an atmosphere of fear that set the stage for the Salem persecutions. In the late 1980’s I began to wonder what kind of stage modern fundamentalist preachers were setting, and I decided to make a statement about the dangers of religious fanaticism. Thus, my novel Witch Hunt was born.

My publisher chose to release Witch Hunt as a horror novel because, frankly, they didn’t know how else to market it. As a result of their decision, I had to slant it to that market—a creative decision I always regretted. Late last year I had the opportunity to rerelease it, so I rewrote it as originally envisioned and updated it for the 21st Century.

When I undertook the task I realized that the contrast between the world twenty years ago and now was stunning, and it created special challenges for the rewrite. The truth is, the Craft is so much more accepted now than it was then that I actually wondered if the plot would be plausible in the 21st Century. Interestingly, although in the 1990’s Witch Hunt enjoyed brief popularity as a horror novel, since its rerelease it has had a wild ride on Amazon’s Metaphysical Fiction Bestseller’s List. I gave considerable thought to the reasons for this and came to the conclusion that maybe the world hasn’t changed that much after all. Perhaps people are embracing this book with such passion because they realize that a modern witch hunt could indeed happen.

Yes, the Craft is more accepted now, but our society is still fear-based. And cultures of fear always look for scapegoats. What if a charismatic Christian preacher decided to fan the flames of judgment and fear against Witches again? Besides the written word, the message could be delivered even more powerfully by television and the Internet. It could happen.

In what way is this possible scenario different in the 21st Century than it was in the 20th? Today the Pagan community is so strong—so united—that this time I think the Witches would not tolerate abuse. Perhaps that is the saving grace of this possible scenario. The power is more equally-balanced now and, thus, less likely to manifest in a persecution. At least that is my hope.

In closing, I would like to share a review I received for the original edition that is especially fitting for the new one:

“A superb examination of the corrupting influence of power: political, social, economic, religious, and sexual power. Witch Hunt works well on several different levels, and the story comes very close to being a modern religious and political allegory.” —2 AM Magazine
Please visit my website at www.NewWitchHunt.com
Copyright © 2011 by Devin O’Branagan

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22 comments:

  1. I will indeed put this book on my must read list. In light of the recent happenings in our own community online, it is more thought provoking that a modern day witch hunt is a possibility....we saw it backfire on the "their" side. Now the valedictorian being allowed to bring her religiosity to her graduation speech will open that door to other points of view to be addressed in commencement speeches as well. Maybe this is the backlash that will undo the Jerry Whatshisname's moral majority fear stronghold or it could be just the fuel needed to make the fires burn hotter for our community. At any rate I must read this book.
    Thank you for posting this.

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  2. Linda,

    History does tend to repeat itself until people make a stand for change.

    I hope you do read my novel!

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  3. I have downloaded this to my JetBookLite...then when I read your post, I thought perhaps I would not be able to 'stomach' it as horror is not my thing...I am so glad that you did the rewrite and am again looking forward to reading it...

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  4. ...and I love the cover...

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  5. Great novel, I've read it, and great message.
    Thanks for sharing with us Devin.

    Julie

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  6. Thank you Judy and Julie!

    Judy, there is no longer any gratuitous horror as there was previously. There are horrible things that happen, but that's different and in context.

    BTW - For the historical chapter that pertains to the Salem trials, I actually got hold of the trial transcripts and everything in there, although fictionalized, is based on fact.

    I hope it touches your heart and soul.

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  7. That sounds like an amazing book. I will have to add it to my list. I love the concept. When I was in 7th grade I devoured every book I could find on the Salem Witchtrials thinking about how strange and scary something like that would be these days. I lived in a very small town.

    Its a sad truth that people still don't understand paganism. Even people you would expect to be accepting can sometimes make an exception for us pagans.

    The book sounds exciting.

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  8. I have this book as a sample on my Nook, haven't bought it yet but it is on my tbr list...unfortunately that list is HUGE. lol

    From what I read, it looks like a great book.

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  9. Thanks for posting this! I will be buying this book! Take Care!

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  10. Linda - I hope we use that double edged sword to carve something useful.

    Judy - I can't wait to learn about your reaction. I'll tell you the specific parts that made me cry after you are done reading--I don't want to spoil it for you. And the cover rocks!

    phoenixfirewolf - The message touched me; great indeed!

    Colleen - I think you'll enjoy this one. It'll piss you off, but that is part of what makes it such a great novel.

    Lilac - Click, click and read lol

    Magic Love Crow - Let me know what you think after you read it dear.

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  11. Magaly, thanks for posting this! I very much agree with Devin about the havok fear based religions and fear based thinking has caused to pagans (and anyone who chooses to think for themselves!).There is a great book out there called " The Choice for Love" by Emmanuel and it talks about how everything we do comes from either love or fear and how we always have a choice to choose Love!Sometimes I think Jesus would have a fit if he were here in the flesh seeing all the fear based religions hurting innocent loving witches and using his name to boot! Of course he would probably just be his loving self and say something like " Forgive them for they know not what they do!" Love, Deb

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  12. Adding this book to my list of must-reads! I am so glad it has been re-released in it's purer form as was meant to be.

    I can remember hearing such condemning and judgmental words from Pat Robertson's mouth and could not believe people listened to that trash, much less believed it. It was and at times still is, very frightening.

    I believe we are a stronger group today and contain a force within that says, "Enough." There is great proof of this with the Mrs. B situation. We're ready to put the W back in Witch.

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  13. Wonderful post. I am going to have to find both versions of the book if I can. I know the rewrite is on Amazon, the original will be more difficult. I also posted on my feelings about what happened on the voting contest, on my blog.

    Bright Blessings.

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  14. Last night I got to thinking about this post and this intriguing book and could wait no longer. I have downloaded it to my Kindle and will start it in the next few days.

    Magaly - I don't know how you do it, but thank you for always finding such wonderful authors and their creative works to share with the rest of us.

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  15. Mina - I love this book. I'm planning to reread it. I can't wait to hear what you thought of it. And about finding great authors, well, I guess I'm a very lucky Witch. I seemed to attract the best of people, want proof? Look at the mirror ;-)

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  16. Mina - I love this book. I'm planning to reread it. I can't wait to hear what you thought of it. And about finding great authors, well, I guess I'm a very lucky Witch. I seemed to attract the best of people, want proof? Look at the mirror ;-)

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  17. Last night I got to thinking about this post and this intriguing book and could wait no longer. I have downloaded it to my Kindle and will start it in the next few days.

    Magaly - I don't know how you do it, but thank you for always finding such wonderful authors and their creative works to share with the rest of us.

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  18. Wonderful post. I am going to have to find both versions of the book if I can. I know the rewrite is on Amazon, the original will be more difficult. I also posted on my feelings about what happened on the voting contest, on my blog.

    Bright Blessings.

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  19. ...and I love the cover...

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  20. Thanks for posting this! I will be buying this book! Take Care!

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  21. I will indeed put this book on my must read list. In light of the recent happenings in our own community online, it is more thought provoking that a modern day witch hunt is a possibility....we saw it backfire on the "their" side. Now the valedictorian being allowed to bring her religiosity to her graduation speech will open that door to other points of view to be addressed in commencement speeches as well. Maybe this is the backlash that will undo the Jerry Whatshisname's moral majority fear stronghold or it could be just the fuel needed to make the fires burn hotter for our community. At any rate I must read this book.
    Thank you for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have this book as a sample on my Nook, haven't bought it yet but it is on my tbr list...unfortunately that list is HUGE. lol

    From what I read, it looks like a great book.

    ReplyDelete