Tag: Hammer of Witches

Begoña Echeverria to discuss Hammer of Witches Friday, May 22, in Bakersfield

Begoña Echeverria will be discussing The Hammer of Witches: A Historical Novel at the CSUB Basque Studies Symposium 2015 on Friday, May 22, at 4:00 pm in the Music Building at CSU Bakersfield. The symposium will also see chef Aingeru Etxebarria prepare pintxos  and talk about contemporary Basque cuisine as well as a discussion of Basque tree-carvings in the Eastern Sierras by Nancy Hadlock and Richard Potashin. Information for anyone wanting to attend can be found here.

Hammer of witches

The symposium is part of the Kern County Basque Club’s 43rd annual Basque Festival.

Hammer of Witches and the Korrika with Begoña Echeverria

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Begoña Echeverria is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside

Could you tell us about the tour and the premise of your book The Hammer of Witches?

Certainly. My novel is loosely based on the 1610 burnings of Basque “witches” in Logroño, Spain: six people were burned alive and five in effigy.  Their crimes? Offering children to Satan, partaking in masses and sexual escapades with the devil, feasting on dead witches and human children, and concocting powders to destroy enemies or crops.

While too late for the Basque “witches” burned that day in Logroño, the Inquisition would eventually conclude that these charges were nonsense, that “there were neither witches nor bewitched until they were talked and written about.”  For the Inquisition had used violence to get people to accuse themselves and others: An agent of the Inquisition had tied his sixteen-year-old nephew naked to a bed and beaten him until he admitted to being a witch. Another man had held a dagger to his daughters’ throats until they confessed and named other witches – because if the girls did so “voluntarily,” they would not be punished. Still others had been bribed.  A shepherd boy said two women had given him money and a shirt to accuse another woman of taking him to a witches’ gathering; they coached him to name the people he had seen there.  Accustomed to eating only maize, other children had been given good food and drink by the interrogators themselves to answer their leading questions.

So that is the background for The Hammer of Witches. Fortunately for me as a writer – and unfortunately for the Basques burned that day – the Inquisitors were very proud of what they were doing and wrote everything down. Most of the documents I use in the novel are historical, though all the characters are fictional. I essentially have the characters respond to the events swirling around them in different ways, depending on their position in that society at that time.

I try to give a taste of this on my book tour: in addition to reading excerpts from the novel itself, I show images of the people, places, artifacts, and documents pertinent to the historical case. My latest stop on the tour was Denver, where I shared my story with members of the Colorado Euskal Etxea. My next reading will be on May 22 in Bakersfield, right before their annual picnic.  But in March my book tour took me to  Washington, D.C; New York City; Boise and Homedale, ID; Ontario, OR; and Sydney, Australia. Most stops have been in the Basque Clubs in those communities, but I will also be speaking to a book club in Santa Cruz about The Hammer, and gave a presentation at the Instituto Cervantes while I was in Sydney. I’ve been wanting to travel to Australia for a long time, so it was great to have this excuse to finally go.

We heard you have recently run in a Korrika.  Where was this run and why did you run it there?  Yes – that was a nice surprise!   I stepped off the plane and walked the Korrika over the Sydney Habour Bridge right away! So either it was serendipity or excellent planning on [Sydney Basque Club] Gure Txoko’s part.  Either way, it was a great experience.

 

Hammer of witches

The Hammer of Witches: One of Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choices for May

The Center is proud to announce that the Historical Novel Society has chosen Begoña Echeverria’s The Hammer of Witches as one  of its Editor’s Choice selections for the May issue of its online magazine.

Hammer of witches

According to the review:

“This is the first book I’ve ever read that made me feel what it must have been like to be a victim of unfounded suspicion, forced to reply on personal faith, or recant all one holds true. It also shows the other side of the story, what it is like to be faced with judging guilt or innocence when the expectation of superiors and neighbors is clear.

In addition to being a riveting story, this book is important as a cultural resource in that it preserves many of the traditional stories of the Basque people about witches. It also serves as a reminder that such blind hatred is possible, even today, if we allow ourselves to be swayed to anger, without deep thought and consideration for the humanity of all involved. Highly recommended.”

Read the full review here.