This is the story of Nell who lives with her grandmother, the local cunning woman and healer, in a west country village in the seventeenth century. When one of the minister's daughters falls pregnant she and her sister attempt to conceal it by accusing Nell of putting a curse on them. The witchfinder general, Matthew Hopkins, is called in and in an atmosphere of fear, the local villagers turn nasty and Nell's grandmother falls victim to their hatred. Nell is all alone, and in great danger . . .
Julie Hearn used to be a tabloid journalist. After her daughter, Tilly, was born she began a degree in Education but switched to English after suffering a panic attack while attempting to teach maths to year six.
Something she read in Oxford's Bodleian Library, about a young girl who was shown as a fairground "monster" in the 17th century, inspired Julie's first novel Follow Me Down (2003). Since then she has written about witchcraft (The Merrybegot, 2005); the beauty and perils of the Victorian art world (Ivy, 2006), and the legacy of the Slave Trade (Hazel, 2007).
Rowan the Strange, she says, is as much about the craziness of so-called "normal life" as it is about a young boy's state of mind . The more she wrote the harder it became to hold onto, or defend, conventional definitions of madness.
Wreckers, another of Julie's titles, draws on the well-known myth of Pandora's Box, and has been widely praised.
Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.