I started this story a couple of times. I knew I wanted to write something about backcountry witches, and about the relationships between sisters and mothers and daughters, but it took a few tries to figure out how to set up my narrator's situation in a way that grabbed me. I wanted my narrator to be in a situation that, to her, is perfectly ordinary, but hint at the unsettling details of her life without giving to much away.
I deliberately left the exact era vague-- the only clue as to time period is the tintype, which places them sometime after 1853. The sisters and their mother are far from civilzation, and they're pretty old-fashioned anyway. Their magic is a mix of medicine and superstition and pure willpower; there's probably fancy city wizards with strings of letters after their names in this world, but in the woods it comes down to what you can do with the tools at hand.
One of the things that started the story, oddly enough, was the idea of a helpful zombie. Zombies are the servants of magical practitioners in some traditions, but I didn't want that exactly. I wanted someone who was too stubborn to stay dead, and so dedicated to the living she'd left behind that she keeps going as long as she can. That mixed itself up with my thoughts about old-timey witches, and then I had a story.