From the Author
One day I was doing research on capital punishment when I came across the name. I Googled it and saw that she was the first child executed in the United States. I tried to find information from various websites, but not much information is known about her or her life. I felt compelled to tell her story the best way that I could. Even though she committed an unspeakable crime, I wanted to know why she did it.
What do you want your readers to know about Hannah?
That history wasn't so kind to her for obvious reasons. I want the readers to realize that Hannah, like Eunice were just children at the time. Hannah didn't have the benefit of social services to help her nor did she have a parent in her life to steer her in the right direction. I want my readers to know that Hannah was just a child when she committed this crime. That doesn't absolve her of anything because she was aware that murder was wrong. She didn't have the support system that is required to raise healthy children, physically and emotionally.
Tell us more about the process of writing a historical fiction novel.
It isn't easy that's for sure. I did a ton of research on this book before I wrote one word. Since very little is known of her life before the crime was committed, I thought that I would fill in the details. The first half of the book focuses on the lives of Hannah and the family that she worked for to give the reader a taste of life in Colonial America.
The second half of the book focuses on the crime that she commits but how Hannah faces her own mortality. Numerous sources talked about how Hannah was "indifferent" when it came to her execution: almost as if she didn't understand what was going on. Many people attributed it to her mental status but that explanation is far too convenient.
I feel that at the age of twelve, one would worry about what would happen to them when they died. Hannah didn't have the benefit of a sophisticated mind to ponder this thought, nor did she have an adult leading her down the right path.
In colonial America, Hannah wasn't a little girl, she was a simple servant...a possession.
What is your stance on capital punishment?
(smiles) Well I go back and forth with the issue all the time like many people. I can say that it definitely isn't a deterrent for people to not commit crime. If it were, we'd have less of it, not more. Colonial America was a very pious and strict place to live. Merely stealing, not going to church enough, or adultery could get you the death penalty in many situations: especially if it wasn't your first time committing the offense.
What about James Arcene? Wasn't he the youngest?
He was the youngest sentenced to death but he didn't have a meeting with the hangman's noose until he was twenty three. That still makes Hannah Ocuish the youngest child executed in the United States.
I just hope that I did Hannah's story justice. Thank you all.