We’re pleased to be able to present this interview with Hawaii-based writer Ray Dean, whose short story Carried Away is now available via Amazon’s Kindle Worlds.
Inspired by the Suffrajitsu trilogy, Carried Away features several principal characters from the graphic novels, including Persephone Wright and Flossie Le Mar, as well as introducing a new protagonist, Tressa Boniface. Tressa’s journey from timid maid to confident suffragette is marked by sometimes violent class and gender conflicts, new friendships and cases of mistaken identity, weaving in and out of the world of haute couture fashion circa 1913:
As a proper Edwardian Englishman, Lord Arnold Smythe has no time at all for the radical women’s suffrage movement. He becomes infuriated when his wife, Lady Roslyn, shows an interest in the cause.
Meanwhile, young Tressa Boniface, a serving girl in the Smythe’s household, can’t see what all the fuss is about. Why should women not be the equals of men? Tressa’s curiosity and sense of natural justice inevitably send her to a suffragette rally, and then into physical danger.
Will Tressa’s new-found friendship with Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons – a secret society of female bodyguards – teach her the courage she’ll need to rise above her station?
Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era of the Foreworld?
R.D.: My favorite Amendment to the US Constitution is XIX, Suffrage for Women. It was first introduced to Congress in 1878 and was approved in 1919. Add my love of Edwardian Era clothing and culture and a teen-age background in martial arts and dance … when I saw the opportunity to write for this exciting world, I had to do it!
Q: What were the greatest challenges in writing this story?
R.D.: I admit, my prior understanding was that Edwardian ladies were more sedate in nature. My primary memory of ‘falling in love’ with the Edwardian era was Jane Seymour playing the character of Elise McKenna in Somewhere in Time. Now, I had to educate myself on this ‘other side’ of female nature … the kick ass side!
Q: So which resources did you use?
R.D: The Suffrajitsu website has so much information!! And Tony Wolf is a great resource as well. He was so wonderful to help answer my questions and really helped me as we fine-tuned my story.
Q: What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?
R.D.: The barbaric way that women were treated in the guise of ‘protecting their femininity.’
Every story that I uncovered as I read book after book about the suffrage movement, spawned more ideas. I know I have more stories to tell. And I’m still soaking up more research as I go.
Q: In what ways would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?
R.D.: Bravery and courage. I’m a Western fan as well, and one of my favorite quotes is from John Wayne – “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
These women knew that the way wasn’t going to be easy. They were fighting not just the conception that they were the ‘weaker sex’ and that this kind of fight was ‘unwomanly.’ They faced men with clubs that weren’t afraid to use them and they risked so much to make a stand for what they wanted, what they felt was their right.
I have a kick-ass group of lady friends and I hope that we carry forward the same ideals as the Suffragettes and stand up when others would run for the hills. Courage, the real deep-in-your-heart, steel-in-your-spine courage, will never go out of style.
Q: Do you have any philosophies or advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
R.D.: Do it. Jump in and swim. (Okay, the ‘swim’ thing is an odd thing since I can barely keep my head above water …) But really, do it. Take yourself seriously or don’t expect other people to do that for you. Be kind to your fellow writers; we all struggle. We all need encouragement, so don’t pass along negative feelings. And be willing to ‘look’ at what you’re writing. Do what you need to do to better your skills. And WRITE … lots and lots of writing!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
R.D.: I’m not a one genre woman. I’ve always been an avid reader with varied tastes and as I’ve developed my writing through short and longer fiction, I’ve found myself writing for a number of different genres. I’m also a book junkie. The annual Hawaii Library Book Sale is my crack. I love to find all sorts of great books. I haunt the history section and the war books. I have entirely too many books and it’s not a joke when I say I use stacks of books for night stands beside my bed.