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  • Writer's pictureDavid Fine

The Places that Inspired Aggie Boyle Part I

When my daughter was in elementary school, I started telling her bedtime stories. They focused not only on the characters, but also the character’s surroundings. Interestingly enough it wasn’t until about five years ago when I started writing down the story that I began to think about the actual location. Since the character was a witch, I knew it had to be a place where a witch would live. It was then that I remembered the trips I used to take with my family as a child. There were many places that inspired my writing and today I want to tell you about one of them, Salem Massachusetts. I vividly remember Salem as a place that actually had witches, or it at least gave off that impression when I visited there.

Being born and raised in Connecticut, historical places were all around that part of the Northeast. The area is often referred to as New England which includes the states Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. We often visited Massachusetts where my parents were raised. Since it was only a few hours drive from Connecticut, in addition to visiting my grandparents, we also would take side trips. My parents knew I loved all types of history and being raised in the Northeast they knew the historical sites to visit. My parents were the ones who suggested this trip to go to Salem. They wanted me to learn about what happened there in the late sixteen-hundreds. To this day, I still remember my visit there. We went to The House of the Seven Gables along with a famous cemetery and the Salem Witch Museum.

The House of the Seven Gables was the first place we visited. It has an interesting historic past and remains a popular place to visit today. It’s been kept in good condition thanks to the donations from patrons. The famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is from Salem, wrote a classic novel called The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne’s second cousin, Miss Susanna Ingersoll, was the owner of The House of Seven Gables in the eighteen-hundreds. During that time, Hawthorne visited there many times.

Then when I visited the House of the Seven Gables, what caught my eye was the type of furniture included in the home along with the style of the house itself. This place became an inspiration for what homes from that period would look like which help me picture the time period when I started writing Aggie Boyle.

Another place that I went to while in Salem was a famous burial ground called Charter Street Cemetery. That is where the infamous John Hathorne is laid to rest. He is best known for his early and vocal role as one of the leading judges in the Salem Witch Trials. He was also the great-great grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne. On a side note, most scholars believed that Nathaniel Hawthorne changed his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne because he wanted to distance himself from John Hathorne and the trials. This place inspired the cemetery that plays an important part in the Aggie Boyle story.

Finally, my parents took us to the Salem Witch Museum. After reading about the trials at the museum and what supposedly happened, I didn’t know what to think. When we headed back home from this trip, I started to believe there might be witches in the world. That changed somewhat when I was told later what really happened. Yet, it still helped my imagination grow. My childhood beliefs from that visit to Salem became the inspiration for Aggie’s character and my belief that magic is within us all. Stay tuned for part II where we dive into another place that inspired the story of Aggie Boyle.

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