With the paperback release of THE FIFTH PETAL only days away, I can’t help but think about the characters who have lingered with me long after the final pages of this novel. What would the Goddesses think of Salem today, a city that has learned much from our dark past, yet faces the same challenges as any small city in uncertain times? My novels always begin with a what if question, then seem to ask more and more as the characters evolve. Could a witch-hunt happen again in Salem? And if so, what would it look like? It wouldn’t be the same, we have learned that lesson. Today we celebrate the witches who find our city a safe haven. Nor would the Goddesses be treated as they were in 1989. Each of the three novels I’ve written so far is set in this city I call home, and Salem has become a character who grows and arcs as all characters should. It’s not the same place it was five years ago, or even last year. One thing remains the same, though. When I ask what the city wants, the answer is always just one word: forgiveness. And when I try to figure out what my characters might think of the city today, I am proud to say that my favorite character in THE FIFTH PETAL, Rose Whelan, would be proud of what happened here on July 19th of this year, when Salem finally commemorated the real site of the 1692 executions. This was Rose’s fondest wish in the book, and she dedicated her life to making it happen. Sometimes fiction and real life come together in wonderful ways. Here is a photo of the memorial at Proctor’s Ledge, a lovely and serene place to visit on your next trip to Salem. May those accused finally rest in peace.