Dr Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. She is currently finishing her fifth book, Solstice, the final part of The Widdershins Trilogy. The trilogy was inspired by several witch trials in the north east of England, including the Newcastle witch trials of 21 August, 1650 where fifteen women and one man were hanged as witches.
Despite the Newcastle witch trials being one of the largest mass executions of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the various cunning women in The Widdershins Trilogy, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.
The Running Wolf tells the tale of a group of master swordmakers who defected from Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. During her archive research, she uncovered some new evidence and published her findings in the Northern History journal.
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The Historical Novel Society said of Widdershins:
“Impeccably written, full of herbal lore and the clash of ignorance and prejudice against common sense, as well as the abounding beauty of nature, it made for a great read. There are plenty of books, both fact and fiction, available about the witch-trial era, but not only did I not know about such trials in Newcastle, I have not read a novel that so painstakingly and vividly evokes both the fear and joy of living at that time.”