This is a letter I got from a reader recently:
I’m thoroughly enjoying your books […] My ancestor William Markham was the first white man to befriend the Mohawks, or so they say in the family. I do know quite a lot about his grandson, Col. Wm Markham III who founded the small town of Rush south of Rochester and who built a lovely home in the area in 1794. I look forward to your new book.
I’m always really pleased when readers find personal connections to the historical context of the books. I do quite a lot of genealogy myself. On my maternal grandfather’s line I have ancestors studded all over the east coast from the earliest days of the Dutch settlements in New Amsterdam — many of the names I use in the novels come out of my family research.
Winifred King Benham (known generally as the witch of Wallingford) was tried three times for witchcraft and was never convicted. She was also my nine-times great grandmother, and someday I will have to write about her.
One of the very best parts of research is the naming of characters. It’s great fun to see if I can get the more outrageous names I run across in newspapers and histories to work for one character or another.