[Read a overview of “A Discovery of Witches” and an interview with certainly one of its stars.]
“It’s a very character-driven story, which is why I’m glad it ended up with Sundance,” Harkness mentioned. “It means we don’t have to blow up so much stuff and have so much fake blood.” As government producer of the present, Harkness had a hand in all the things from the casting to the edits. She has been busy selling each the present and “Time’s Convert.” Harkness provides lots of interviews in lodge rooms — which can be why her publicist stipulated that this one happen on the Langham Huntington, although the writer lives lower than two miles away. In any case, Harkness, who arrived in denims and well-worn cowboy boots, her blonde hair staticky from the Santa Ana winds, pretty radiated spontaneity and sincerity. Maybe it was the wine.
She was, for instance, expansive as regards to new initiatives, a subject many writers would reasonably undergo a tax return than talk about. All Souls groupies shall be completely happy to listen to she is now 200 pages right into a ebook about Matthew grappling with the forces of non secular radicalism in 16th-century Europe. She not too long ago returned from a three-week cruise round New Zealand to analysis one other ebook about Matthew’s nephew, the beloved soldier and mercenary Gallowglass. A deep dive into the historical past of witchcraft can be within the works.
Harkness is descended from a witch — or no less than a girl hanged in Salem for allegedly working towards witchcraft. The supernatural seized her creativeness at a younger age. “I can still see ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’ on the shelves of the Horsham library,” she mentioned. Horsham, a suburb of Philadelphia, shouldn’t be a foul place to develop up in case you’re desirous about historical past, one other early ardour of hers. There had been household picnics at battlefields, excursions of historic homes. When she was eight, her father, the supervisor of a paint retailer, and her mom, who labored as a secretary, took Harkness and her youthful brother on a visit to England — sparking a lifelong curiosity in Elizabethan historical past.
She went to varsity at Mount Holyoke, the place she designed her personal main, in Renaissance Studies. A category referred to as “Magic, Knowledge and the Pursuit of Power in the Renaissance” was transformative: “It was like anyone had taken a can opener to my mind and peeled off the lid. The trainer opened up the category by asking, ‘How do you know what you think you know?’ I’ve by no means stopped asking that query.”
Harkness studied the historical past of magic and science in early fashionable Europe at Northwestern University, the place she acquired a grasp’s diploma. Her adviser, satisfied she was a pure storyteller on the energy of a one-page writing train, advised she attempt her hand at fiction. Instead she went on to get her doctorate on the University of California, Davis, spending a yr at Oxford on a Fulbright scholarship and writing her dissertation on John Dee, the alchemist and mathematician who served because the astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I.
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