Finalist Spotlight

Carol Pratt Bradley

Carol Pratt Bradley is the author of four historical novels. In 2009, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. Her history interests so far include: the Biblical Middle East, 16th century Reformation England, 17th century Massachusetts, and Georgian England. You can find her in her writing loft in the home she shares with her husband Bryan in Mapleton, Utah, staring out at the beautiful mountains and imagining herself in other times and places.

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Carol Pratt Bradley on her Whitney Awards Finalist novel,

Daughter of Anne-Hoeck

What was the inspiration for your Whitney Awards finalist novel?

The idea for “Daughter of Anne-Hoeck” began eleven years before the book was published. While doing research for my MFA thesis novel, I stumbled on an ancestor I did not know I had: the religious dissident Anne Hutchinson who was hounded out of Boston for her “heretical” views by John Winthrop and other leaders. She ended up in New York territory, where she and several of her children were slaughtered by the Indians. One daughter, Susanna, then nine years old, survived. It was her life I wanted to write about. The remarkable story of my eighth-great grandmother.

How did this book evolve into the final story? Did it end up the way you thought it would, or did the plot or characters change along the way?

Since this is a novel based on real people and events, I wanted to remain as true as possible to what really happened. What changed was how I structured the story. After the manuscript was accepted for publication, my editor, Karen Gowen, strongly suggested that to balance out the story I should include more of the time that Susanna Hutchinson lived among the Indians before she returned to Boston. That led to new scenes and characters and 10,000 more words. Another way this book evolved: I had five chapters written in third person but it did not feel right. For the novel to have a genuine voice I needed to change it to first person. But how could I do that? Susanna was reported to have lost her native language of English by the time she was returned to her family in Boston. How could I possibly do her voice? I put the chapters away and turned to other projects. The story haunted me. There had to be a way to write it. A breakthrough came after more research: children who lost their original language returned to it quickly. So I began again. That time I finished.

Who is your favorite secondary character, and why?

My favorite was Abigail Button, the woman who became Edward Hutchinson’s second wife. She was so deliciously self-serving that it was fun to write her.

If your book was made into a movie, which scene would you want to be a background extra in?

The scene when Susanna was discovered by Dutch traders living in the Indian village and traded back to the English.