Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 12, 2013

Novelist shares story

Kent tells of alleged witchcraft history in her family

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

Athens — Kathleen Kent, who has written award-winning novels, spoke to a sellout crowd of about 400 at the Cain Center Friday.  Her novels are ficticious accounts of factual happenings within her family.  Her great-grandmother, back nine generations, was reportedly hanged for being a witch in the 1692 Salem witch trials.

Her first book, “The Heretic’s Daughter,” a New York Times bestseller, chronicles the life of Martha Carrier, and is based in part on family stories passed down through many generations.

Kent’s second novel, “The Traitor’s Wife,” was released in Sept. 2011 as a prequel to her first novel, chronicling the life of Thomas Carrier, husband to Martha.

Kent has completed her third novel, “The Outcasts,” to be released in the U.S. in September, 2013, and in the U.K. the following spring.

This novel is set in Reconstruction in Texas, 1870, offering the story of a young Texas policeman on the hunt for a serial killer and a woman fleeing a life of prostitution to begin anew as a school teacher.

Kent, who lives in Dallas, lived many years in New York, and worked for several years for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“I always wanted to write, but just didn’t,” she said. “But life changes, and I quit my job to write.  Writing gets better as you get older.  The well gets deeper, and you have more experience to draw on.”

Kent’s father was from Texas, and her mother was from the Carrier family in Pennsylvania.

It was when she was 8-years-old that she first heard of her family’s history at the dinner table.

“I knew what a witch was,” she said. “I had dressed up as a witch on Halloween. I asked my grandmother if the tale of witches in the family was true, and she said, ‘There’s no such thing as witches, only ferocious women.”

Kent said she believes one thing that adds to the quality of her books is that witchcraft and history is explored from a woman’s perspective, something not always available.

Money from the luncheon went to fund the Henderson County C. W. Murchison Memorial Library in Athens.

Members of the Trinity Valley Community College Cardettes Drill Team.  Underwriters for the event were the Cain Foundation and the Ginger Murchison Foundation.