Amanda Saint is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month, longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize, and chosen as a Top 20 Book of 2016 by the Book Magnet Blog. Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines and been longlisted and shortlisted for, or won, various prizes. When she’s not writing fiction, Amanda works as a freelance journalist writing features for international magazines about environmental sustainability. She also runs her own creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs writing retreats, courses and competitions; and an independent publishing house, Retreat West Books.
Find out more on her websites: http://amandasaint.net and http://retreatwest.co.uk
Witch Hunting: One of humanity’s favourite pastimes
The inspiration for Remember Tomorrow came from a single image I had in my mind of a woman, a herbalist, living in the future and being persecuted for witchcraft. This was all I knew of the story for a long time and it took a few years of mulling it over to figure out how and why she had ended up like this.
When I started researching for the novel, I read a lot about Green Witchcraft in the current day and discovered how the people that practice it revere the natural world. Then I moved on to reading about the witch hunts of the past and discovered that many of the women persecuted then were herbalists and spiritual people that lived close to nature.
In my day job as an environment journalist I spend a lot of time writing about climate change, how unsustainable the way we live is, and how the majority of humanity’s complete disregard for nature is setting us on a very scary path. So it all started to come together in my mind that I needed to contrast the two through Evie’s story.
That witch hunting similar to the persecution of the past would happen again in the future didn’t seem at all unrealistic. Witch hunting of one form or another appears to be one of humanity’s favourite things to do. Tabloid journalism, bullying online and off, cliques who ostracize people deemed different, religious extremists. The list goes on and these things have been happening throughout history.
In some countries, actual witch hunting is still practised today and I recently watched a film called, I Am Not A Witch, set in modern day Zambia which was inspired by real life stories of women and girls deemed witches being rounded up and imprisoned in witch camps.
So I wanted to explore what it is about humans that they focus their energies on hatred and division, superstition and suspicion, while systematically destroying the only home they have. Through Evie’s story, I’ve shown how fragile life as we know it is and that it wouldn’t take much for humans to revert to medieval superstitions, but also that it can be just as easy to take the other path, the one filled with love for our planet and all the earthlings on it.