THE ‘inspirational’ story of the Pendle witches has provided the model for an award-winning author’s latest work of historical fiction.

Mary Sharratt, who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, in America, but now lives in Great Harwood, said she wrote Daughters of the Witching Hill after moving to East Lancashire and developing a fascination with the area’s ‘rich’ history.

Set during the infamous witch trials of 1612, which took place at Lancaster Assizes, the novel features the people involved and according to Mary, a large amount of her research involved scrutinising the transcript recorded by Thomas Potts, a clerk at the court.

The author, who moved to the region from Germany in 2002 when her Belgian husband accepted a job at an engineering firm in Oldham, said she fell in love with the surrounding countryside immediately.

She added: “When I moved here I found the wild, brooding landscape so inspiring.

“From the back of our house you can see Pendle Hill.

“I’d heard the legends and the folklore about the witches but I didn’t realise that nine real people from this region had died.”

The book, which is scheduled for release this Spring, reveals the story of Bess Southerns, also known as Old Demdike, who was the most notorious of the witches, and her granddaughter, Alizon Device.

Mary, a former winner of the 2005 WILLA Literary Award and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, is also the author of critically acclaimed novels including, Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva and The Vanishing Point, which was a UK Guardian Readers’ Book of the Year.

Every one of her novels can be categorised as ‘historical fiction,’ she said.

Since moving to East Lancashire, Mary said she has also taken up horse riding.

“When I’m not writing I’m usually off riding Boushka, my beautiful and spirited Welsh mare who is making a cameo appearance in the book as Alice Nutter’s horse,” she said.

Daughters of the Witching Hill is published by Houghton Mifflin and will be released in April.