We recently had the opportunity to chat with one of our Yellow Jacket authors, Amanda Marrone, about her new book, Only the Stars Know Her Name, her start as a writer, and what she does in her spare time.
Everyone knows the story of the Salem Witch Trials, but have you ever wondered what happened afterwards? Only the Stars Know Her Name explores the story of Tituba’s daughter, Violet, and her life after the trials ended. False accusations and false confessions of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, took her mother away from her. Now Violet seeks revenge on those who tore her family apart. Readers will be instantly transported back in time in this dark and gripping novel. Only the Stars Know Her Name hits shelves on July 23rd!
- When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
I wanted to become a picture book author and illustrator for as long as I can remember. As a child, my father took me to the library almost every week and I knew I wanted to have one of my own books with my own drawings on those shelves when I got older.
When I got serious about making that dream come true, one of the picture books I was working on got longer and longer and turned into a novel. I am still dabbling with picture books and illustration, but novel writing is where my heart is.
- How did you come up with the idea for Only the Stars Know Her Name?
My agent, Rick Richter, let me know that [Little Bee Books] was looking for someone to write about the Salem Witch Trials. He knew the subject was something I was very interested in.
To my surprise, [Little Bee Books] wasn’t looking for a story about the trials but their aftermath; the focus on Tituba’s little-known daughter, Violet.
I was immediately ready to explore the idea of what Violet’s life might have been like living with the people who had accused her mother of witchcraft—a crime Tituba not only confessed to but in turn, accused others of. How does a young girl wrap her head around the fact that her mother may or may not be an actual witch?
I didn’t want to use the witchcraft model of the trials though, I wanted to create a unique magic that three young girls—each a victim of the time—could summon through the sheer power of longing, regret and a powerful thirst for revenge.
- Which part of Only the Stars Know Her Name was your favorite to write? Why?
I can’t pick just one! My favorite parts to write were any time Violet, Elizabeth and Tammy were in the woods together. The three girls come from different backgrounds, and the dynamics of them trying to form a cohesive group was so much fun to write. I loved the changes they all went through from their first secret meeting in the woods, to the night they formed their coven and finally the realization of how their magic was affecting themselves and everyone around them.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I like to read with my dogs, Penny and Griffin and my cat, Jasper. If the weather is good, I try to get in a walk or hike every day; the woods are a great place to clear my mind and hear my characters talking to each other—which is weird, but true. I’m an avid Pokémon Go player, so the woods are also a good place to get my kilometers in and hatch Pokémon eggs. I’m also very interested in insects and have hissing cockroaches in a tank by my desk and ’m currently waiting for a batch of hornworm pupa to hatch into hawkmoths.
- What was your favorite book to read as a child?
Picking a favorite book is so very hard. When I was little, I adored Racey Helps, Beatrix Potter, and Bill Peet’s books. Three of my favorite books in elementary school were Island of the Blue Dolphins, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Bridge to Teribithia and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.