Jay Atkinson, called “the bard of New England toughness” by Men’s Health magazine, is the author of eight books. Caveman Politics was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program selection and a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award; Ice Time was a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of the Year and a New England Bookseller’s Association bestseller; and Legends of Winter Hill spent seven weeks on the Boston Globe hardcover bestseller list. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Newsday, Portland Oregonian, Men’s Health, Boston Sunday Herald, and Boston Globe magazine, among other publications. Atkinson teaches writing at Boston University and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. He grew up hearing Hannah Duston's story in his hometown of Methuen, Massachusetts, which was part of Haverhill until 1726. He lives in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Atkinson's new book, Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America, focuses on a series of events in late 17th century New England between English settlers and members of the Abenaki tribe.
From the author's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: The book includes so many details of Hannah Duston’s story. How did you recreate them?Visit Jay Atkinson's website.
A: The book’s research took about two years and six months, and the research had a bifurcated way that it developed. The first 18 months, all my research was indoors, reading all the accounts written about her, some contemporaneous with her actions—those were pretty short.
And because I’m from the same area, I was able to go to the special collections room in Haverhill where she lived. They had old deeds, and ephemera relating to the Duston family. For the first year, I tried to get my head around Abenaki warrior tactics, the English colonial government’s agrarian society taking over the wilderness.
And then there was her story—a homesteading wife with [many] children, a 39-year-old woman who had delivered a baby a week earlier, before the Indians attacked. I had all these facts, and I had stick figures performing these actions, and I had ...[read on]
My Book, The Movie: Massacre on the Merrimack.
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