Meet My Imaginary Friends: Alfilda Braun
I really love the #AtoZ Challenge because it is a chance for me to write shorter, but more frequent, blog posts. As a writer, I often hear "where do you get your ideas for characters? So this month I'm going to introduce readers to some of my imaginary friends.
Alfilda Braun is a tall, intelligent woman with an interesting obsession. She grew up in the Black Forest of Germany where she heard people talk about Hexe-Women, women who practiced herbology, natural healing, and also some magic. My knowledge of this subject originally came from stories my Gram Werner told and, as I worked on a story for my The Buckskin Cap in the Trunk collection, Alfilda came to life. She is an interesting woman and a perfect love interest for Mulligan, my high-spirited pig farmer. Here is an introduction to Alfilda from the story Hexe-Woman:
"I grew up in Germany," Alfilda said as she watched Mulligan prepare their lunch. "My parents emigrated to Pennsylvania when I was sixteen but I go back to my home town often. In my heart I’ll always be a country girl.”
“But you live in Philadelphia now?” Mulligan glanced at her as he turned the bacon.
“Outside of Philadelphia in Berks County. I teach at a college there and am doing research on women herbalists and healers in rural areas. Where I grew up, not far from the Black Forest, there were many stories about the women known as Hexes or Hexe-women. They were both feared and needed.” She lowered her eyes and wove her fingers together. “There’s a rather disturbing story in my family that one of my ancestors was a Hexe-woman. I suppose that’s what got me interested in the subject. I’m documenting all the stories I hear of witchcraft in backwoods towns.”
“Witchcraft? I always thought witches were more in New England. Didn’t they hang them or burn them or something?” He carefully lifted the strips of bacon out of the pan and lay them on paper towels to drain.
“They did, but wherever there are country people there are rumors of witchcraft. Actually, Pennsylvania was unique because the governor here, William Penn, was a Quaker. He was a pacifist and refused to allow those accused of witchcraft to be tortured and killed. Unfortunately, my own country was one of the last to ban such persecutions."