From Suffrajitsu stories on Kindle Worlds

New guest reviews of “The Pale Blue Ribbon” and “The Isle of Dogs”

Suffrajitsu.com is pleased to present these two guest reviews of the Kindle Worlds stories The Pale Blue Ribbon and The Isle of Dogs, reviewed by Val Brown, author of the Toupie Lowther – her life website.

Click on the cover images below to visit the Kindle Worlds sales pages for each story!

PBR cover

THE PALE BLUE RIBBON  by John Longenbaugh

A new, sparkling novella that opens up into an upper-class  time frame wherein the young sportswoman  “Miss Toupie”  innocently falls in love with a charming young man. They become engaged to be married, but her engagement ring is villainously stolen. Sadly the charming young man rapidly  shows an unadmirable side to his character: to her amazement he declines to seek out the villain, declaring that the ring was of little value and refusing to contact the police!

However,  “Miss Toupie” is made of mightier stuff and she decides to turn detective and search for the mugger herself. Needing to know how  to defend herself if needed, she prudently enrolls at the famous  “Macpherson’s Gymnasium and School of Arms” – Fencing for Gentlemen”. Quickly becoming skilled to an extent that amazes the great MacPherson, she sets off fearlessly into deepest east end London, locates her villain and finally discovers  the terrible  truth …

Hovering  around the  reality of the real-life Toupie Lowther – who was, indeed, a noted sportswoman with both blade and racket – the  author of this novella successfully merges her real life  character into a thoughtful,  vigourous and likeable  heroine.  Polished and dramatic, this a great new read.

Isle of Dogs cover small

THE ISLE OF DOGS by Michael Lussier

A new novella that will grip your imagination, The Isle of Dogs features the amazing all-fighting, all-women battalion of bodyguards – known widely as “Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons” – in a mystery tale of blackmail, villainy and kidnapping.

Shocked by the sudden suicide of a former Amazon, the Bartitsu babes search out and uncover the evil “Grex Canum“;  a strangely secretive sodality with  grim headquarters in a public house – the Anne Boleyn – situated on the aptly named Isle of Dogs in east London.

The fighting Amazons arrive on a dark night, primed and battle ready for the assault on the Anne Boleyn. They are led by Miss Persephone Wright (always known as Persi) – star of the graphic novel Suffrajitsu and a skilled champion with foot, fist and her deadly malacca fighting-stick. The Amazon Army  soon attacks and holds the first and second floors of the Anne Boleyn, and finally Persi, along with Katie Brumbach the muscular heavyweight wrestler and the swordswoman Toupie Lowther – readily armed with her holstered and  loaded Bisley Colt (and recently prey to the blackmailing Grex Canum herself) – fight their way up to the secret top floor, finally  bursting into  the black heart of the Grex Canum.

A good read that will keep the reader entranced by the action, The Isle of Dogs is smoothly presented with a fine unravelling of dramatic action.  The incorporation of real life Amazons, trained in the application of the art of Bartitsu and fearful of no brutal opposition adds style as well as imagination to this well thought out and captivating novella.

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Edith Garrud’s role in the Suffrajitsu stories

Jujitsuffragettes-1
Edith Garrud (uppermost) demonstrates a jiujitsu armlock on one of her suffragette students.

Several Suffrajitsu reviewers have asked why Edith Garrud, who was the real-life jiujitsu instructor of the suffragette Bodyguards, seems to have been downplayed in the graphic novels.  Can you comment?

Tony Wolf: First of all, I should say that I’ve been learning about Edith Garrud’s life and martial arts activities for the past decade.  In recent years I’ve written a number of articles about her, contributed to mainstream newspaper, magazine, TV and radio profiles on her life and even wrote her biography.

Edith’s role and position in the Suffrajitsu series are mostly due to the fact that I prioritized the relationship between Persephone Wright and her uncle Edward, who was the founder of Bartitsu and the owner/manager of the Bartitsu Club. Their relationship had actually been established long before I started writing the Suffrajitsu stories, during an ongoing world-building conversation with other Foreworld Saga writers including Mark Teppo and Neal Stephenson.

Given that Persi was Edward’s niece and protégée, it made sense to turn the Bartitsu Club into the Amazons’ headquarters and to position Bartitsu as their fighting style.  That choice also offered a much wider scope for the fight scenes, in that Bartitsu actually included kickboxing and stick fighting as well as jiujitsu training.

Edith Garrud
Above: Edith Garrud training Amazon Judith Lee in the finer points of the womanly art of self defense.

So what happened to Edith Garrud?

She’s right there doing exactly what she did in real life – teaching the Amazons jiujitsu.  She makes a cameo appearance training Judith Lee in Issue #1 and then Persephone lists her along with two other real-life suffragettes, Flora Drummond and Gert Harding, who will take care of things in London while the Amazons try to rescue Christabel Pankhurst in Austria.  Persi also later refers to Edith’s own security team, the Palladium Irregulars, who will escort Christabel back to London after the rescue.

Who were the Palladium Irregulars?

In real history, Edith taught a women-only self-defense class at the Palladium Academy, which was a primarily a dance school.  Those classes were probably attended by suffragettes and may well have formed the early nucleus of the Bodyguard’s training, but we don’t know for sure.

The Palladium Irregulars are our fictional elaboration of that idea.  In the world of Suffrajitsu, they serve as a sort of reserve unit that can be called on to reinforce the Amazons in times of crisis.

But why isn’t Edith part of the Amazon team?

I should mention that, historically, Edith wasn’t actually a member of the team.  She specifically served as their jiujitsu instructor, rather than as a bodyguard herself.

That said, she was originally part of my fictional Amazon team, along with several other amazing Edwardian-era women who sadly don’t appear in the published version of the story. As I was writing the first issue, it became obvious that there were just too many Amazon characters to do justice to in the amount of space I had to work with.

The commission from Jet City Comics was for a trilogy of 24-page stories.  The requirements of writing an action/adventure storyline within those strict limits – only so many pages per issue and panels per page – meant that there wasn’t space to include many people I’d been hoping to pay homage to.  So, with a heavy heart, I had to remove and merge characters until the team was down to a workable size that offered a diversity of viewpoints, while keeping the focus on Persi as the main protagonist.

Given that one of my priorities was to shine a light on some lesser-known figures such as Flossie Le Mar, Toupie Lowther and “Miss Sanderson“, I was OK with Edith’s eventual role and position in the graphic novel.  I can understand that some readers still wanted to see more of her, though.  I’d encourage them to read the biography Edith Garrud: The Suffragette who knew Jujutsu and also the Kindle Worlds Suffrajitsu novella, The Second Story Girl, in which she plays a more prominent role.

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Suffrajitsu: A Graphic Novel Celebrating The Fighting Spirit Of The Suffragettes (Konbini)

Journalist Kate Lismore of Konbini recently interviewed Tony Wolf on the inspirations and process behind the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy:

Money shot

Kate Lismore:  What inspired you about the Suffragettes to create your comic/graphic novel?

Tony Wolf: I’d been fascinated by the real-life history of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons for many years, so when Neal Stephenson and Mark Teppo asked me to contribute a graphic novel story to their Foreworld Saga franchise, I jumped at the chance to get creative with that theme.

Given that I’d never actually written a graphic novel before, it was a bit of a leap of faith on Neal’s part to get me involved, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.  He actually makes a guest appearance in the first story, as a well-dressed villain …

Beyond that, though, I just think it’s awesome that a group of women in Edwardian England – “King Edward’s on the throne, it’s the age of men!” as Mr. Banks sings in Mary Poppins – actually risked their safety and freedom, over and over again, to improve the lives of future generations.  The fact that some of them were also kick-ass martial arts-trained bodyguards is the icing on the cake.

Constables copy

Lismore:  What is it about comic book genre that makes moments in history more accessible/engaging for people?

Wolf: I think it’s the appeal of a dramatic character-based narrative over “dry”, academic history, although I love the genres of modern, popular historical nonfiction that are bringing so many amazing stories to light.  History is everything that ever happened before now – there’s a lot of very cool stuff in there.

I’m hoping that the Suffrajitsu trilogy, along with the new Suffragette movie, will serve as a kind of edutainment.  It’s astounds me that so few people know about the radical suffragette movement.  It was an incredibly complex, dramatic and interesting period in recent British history, and yet women’s suffrage is mostly remembered as meek ladies waving placards, Emily Davison being hit by a racehorse and a funny song, also from Mary Poppins.

Obviously, there was a huge amount that, with the best will in the world, I simply couldn’t fit in to a 66-page action-adventure graphic novel, but I tried to communicate certain key points.  For one thing, lots of progressive men supported the suffragettes – the newspapers nicknamed them “suffragents” – and lots of conservative women vehemently opposed them, especially as the protest campaigns became more militant.  Two male supporting characters, Edward Barton-Wright and Vernon Kell, represent the suffragent perspective in my stories.

There was also a great diversity of opinion among the suffragettes themselves.  For example, Christabel Pankhurst, the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst who led the radical Women’s Social and Political Union, became a strident nationalist during the First World War.

She was a very fierce and intelligent strategist and she campaigned for young men to be shamed into entering the armed forces, by having young women hand them white feathers, symbolic of cowardice.  That was extremely controversial at the time, similar to Internet shaming campaigns today. In the Suffrajitsu stories, Persephone Wright, who has been one of Christabel’s loyal bodyguards, takes serious ethical issue with the white feather business.

Pankhursts

Lismore:  Your series focusses on the Amazons and their work protecting the other Suffragettes, how much were you able to take from real life accounts and how much were you able to create for Suffrajitsu?

Wolf: Almost all of the main events in the first issue are very closely based on real-life accounts.  Sometimes people hear that Suffrajitsu is an “alternate history” story and jump to the conclusion that the central premise is fictional, but no – there really was a secret society of martial arts-trained women who protected the leaders of the radical English suffragettes!

I think a lot of people are surprised to hear about this because they assume that, if something that awesome really happened, it would be common knowledge by now.  Unfortunately, though, as with many interesting social phenomena of the very early 20th century, the Amazons were virtually forgotten in the cultural chaos of the First World War.

It sometimes also happens that people go the other way and assume that Suffrajitsu is supposed to be a verbatim documentary, but the reality is that the story was always intended to combine history and fiction at many levels.

Almost all of the characters are fictional representations of historically real people, the major exception being my main protagonist, Persephone Wright, who is the leader of the Amazon team.  Persi is partly inspired by a number of real women,  including Gert Harding – the young Canadian who led the Amazons in real life – and Edith Garrud, who was the team’s martial arts instructor.  Edith also makes a cameo appearance in the graphic novel, and she’s received quite a lot of press over the past couple of years.

Persi is her own woman, though.  She’s what would have been called a “bohemienne”, basically an artistic, free-thinking Edwardian hippie chick, who also happens to be highly trained in the martial arts.  She’s bisexual and, like many people during the early 20th century, she’s heavily addicted to cocaine, which was prescribed by doctors as a wonder-cure for all kinds of ailments.  In Persi’s case, it was “melancholia”, or what we’d think of as depression, arising from a trauma that occurred when she was seventeen.  So, all together she has a pretty complicated life, but fundamentally she’s a person with a very strong drive to protect other people and to fight for what she believes in. Literally, when necessary.

Our representations of the Amazons’ confrontations with the police are very faithful to the historical record, with only minor tweaks for storytelling purposes.  That includes the spectacular “Battle of Glasgow”, in which 30 suffragettes brawled with squads of police constables on the St. Andrew’s Hall auditorium stage, in front of an audience of 4000 shocked spectators.  Again, yes, that really happened.  However, there’s an event at the end of the first story that is a radical departure from history, and that event really spins the adventure off into the Foreworld universe.

That said, the second and third stories are also shot through with historically real characters and locations.  Even our main villain was directly based on a real person, although he’s much more powerful and successful in the story than he was in reality – which is a very good thing!

Riot

Lismore: Often the term “feminism” is considered a very loaded term; how do you think young men and women can reclaim this and make it more positive?

Wolf: I think that feminism is ideally a position of positive advocacy.  For literally as long as I can remember, I’ve understood that all people deserve equal rights and responsibilities, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc.  I worked for several years as a women’s self-defence instructor, which enlightened me to some extent as to the power imbalances that still play out every day, everywhere, and I do what I can to redress those imbalances when I have the chance.

The serious risk with any “-ism” is that it mutates over time into a parody of itself.  The worst case is that an originally positive, dare-I-say common sense position can degenerate into a kind of dogmatic, conformist control mechanism that supplants individuality, open-mindedness and critical thinking.  “Be careful what you hate”, and so-on.

I’m about half a century old now, so young people should feel free to ignore my opinions, but it does give me pause to hear about student activists agitating for “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces” and so-on.  I appreciate the sentiment, but I have to say that previous generations, from the suffragettes through to the women’s liberationists and other social activists of the ’60s and ’70s, did not typically portray themselves as victims, except as a tactical choice.

Frankly, students should be seeking out challenges rather than demanding to be protected from ideas that they don’t like.  These trends trouble me because I want to be able to respect and support these young men and women as the next generation of social progressives.

So, that’s me being all curmudgeonly.  My best advice for the younger generation is to be skeptical, imaginative, curious and honest.

Suffragette that knew jiujitsu

Lismore:  How did you learn about the Amazons? Despite learning about women’s suffrage in school I’d never heard of them before.

Wolf: I first learned about the Amazons as a teenager, reading a book on martial arts history which included an anecdote about young London “society girls” shinnying down drainpipes and sneaking off to secret suffragette jiujitsu classes in the dead of night.

The “secret society” aspect – the idea of this cat-and-mouse game between guerilla suffragettes and the police, playing out in the streets at the height of what was almost a state of civil war – struck a very romantic and transgressive chord.  I experienced something similar a few years later, during the massive and frequently violent social unrest that erupted during the South African Springbok rugby team tour of New Zealand, when anti-apartheid protesters clashed with rugby fans and police.

When the Internet came along I became seriously involved in reviving Bartitsu, which is an eccentric “mixed martial art” for ladies and gentlemen that was founded in London right at the turn of the 20th century.  As I was researching Bartitsu I started to come across more and more information about the suffragette bodyguards.

I included chapters on the Amazons in several Bartitsu-themed books I produced between 2005-2008, and then I wrote the book Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu, which was intended to interest young teenagers in herstory and in learning self defence. The Amazons were also featured in a Bartitsu documentary that I co-produced in 2011, and I’ve advised on quite a number of articles and academic theses about them over the past few years.

Suffrajitsu three covers

Lismore:  You’ve released the trio of Suffrajitsu comics, are there any more adventures in the works?

Wolf: I’d love to do more, and I’ll never say never, but Suffrajitsu was commissioned as a stand-alone, self-contained trilogy.  That said, the idea of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazon team obviously cries out for expansion beyond what I was able to do in one graphic novel.

Last year I organised a project that brought together four other writers who have produced further adventures set in the Suffrajitsu milieu, incorporating many characters from my stories.  I gave the writers advance access to the graphic novel scripts plus a detailed “world guide”, as well as editorial feedback. Their short stories and novellas are now available as e-books via Amazon.com’s Kindle Worlds, which is a platform for licensed fan fiction set in numerous fictional universes, including the Foreworld Saga.

Incidentally, we have an open invitation for writers to contribute their own Suffrajitsu stories via the same scheme, and I hope more people do join in.  I enjoyed every bit of the process of developing the Kindle Worlds stories – it was both humbling and deeply satisfying to have others playing in my sandbox!

Bwang

Lismore:  Is there much collaboration between your storylines and Joao’s illustration? How did you decide on your strong visual aesthetic?

Wolf: There was a great deal of collaboration over about 12 months, all by email as Joao lives in Brazil and I’m currently based in Chicago, USA.  I wrote the graphic novel script as if it were a screenplay, with detailed “stage directions”, etc., anticipating a close collaboration with the artist.  Likewise, there was a lot of email collaboration with BOOM! Studio in Seattle, who handled the colouring, lettering etc.

The visual aesthetic was very much a team effort.  Joao Vieira has a superb sense of dynamic action and a real flair for illustrating the Edwardian period, plus expertise in framing and “camera angles”, and our colourist, Josan Gonzales, found exactly the right palette.  I had strong ideas about certain things – the Art Nouveau covers, etc. – and, because I also work as a fight choreographer for theatre, TV, feature films and video games, I had definite opinions about the Bartitsu action scenes.

I sent Joao a large number of character, item and location reference photographs, which I’d compiled during my years of academic research. Some of those are just little personal touches, like a brandy flask which is shown at one point, which is based on a flask I inherited from my grandfather.

Myself and my wife, Kathrynne, who is an actress, posed for some further reference photographs, and there are also “guest appearances” by my parents and my son Josh, who appears as a back-alley Soho hooligan in the third story.

I also had the chance to revise the script in certain areas, in response to what the art team was doing.  I was delighted with the look of the comics.  I’m sure this is old hat to experienced graphic novel writers, but there was something magical about having the scenes that I’d been visualising brought to life on the page.

Shield wall

Lismore:  If there’s one lesson that today’s society, particularly young women, could learn from the Suffragettes and the Amazons, what do you think it is?

Wolf: To have the courage of their convictions.  The group of domestic violence protesters who creatively disrupted the red carpet premiere of Suffragette had the right idea.  “Deeds, not words” was the suffragette battle-cry, and I think that has a particular resonance today, when so much of our daily lives are lived in virtual space, bouncing tweets and likes and shares back and forth.  The Internet is a fantastic tool, but if you want real-world change, you have to get out there and do it.

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Helena Bonham Carter on “Suffragette”, Edith Garrud and Jiujitsu

Helena Bonham Carter

Along with rave reviews for the recent world premiere of Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette feature film comes the surprising news that Helena Bonham Carter’s character was actually named in honor of real-life suffragette jiujitsu instructor Edith Garrud.

Edith Garrud makes cameo appearances in the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy and is a supporting character in several of the short stories and novellas inspired by that trilogy.  Suffrajitsu was largely inspired by the adventures of the secret society of bodyguards known as the Amazons, who defended suffragette leaders against arrest and assault.  Edith Garrud was their chief trainer.

Bonham Carter’s movie character, Edith Ellyn – representing the most radical of the suffragette activists – is also portrayed as a jujitsu instructor in the movie, although, as the actress notes, a number of the jiujitsu scenes have been removed for story reasons.  Hopefully they may re-appear in some form when the movie is released on DVD.

Click here to read the full interview by Hayley Weiss for Interview Magazine, from which the following comments are excerpted:

 

WEISS: Did you feel pressure portraying Edith because she’s a historical figure?

BONHAM CARTER: No, it was only tangential to the fact that she was historical. Originally the character I was asked [to play] was somebody called Caroline, and then I found out about this character called Edith [Margaret] Garrud, who was 4’11” and taught the suffragettes jiu-jitsu—basically self-defense—against the police.

I based a lot of this character on Edith, but having said that, for story reasons, a lot of the jiu-jitsu has been cut. But no, I didn’t feel pressure, because no one knows about her anyway. She’s a real inspiration and, I thought, an amazing story; this woman who is literally 5’1″ or even 4’11” and could defend herself against these men twice her weight and twice her size. One of the big arguments against women getting the vote, which was such a stupid one, was that they couldn’t fight for their country. They can fight.

WEISS: Edith speaks of the need for action rather than words for change to happen, and the fight in this film isn’t a quiet one. Was the filming process intense?

BONHAM CARTER: We had riots, obviously not real riots, but we had proper fights. Anne-Marie [Duff] got hurt at one point. If you’re having a riot, and the police are restraining you, and you say “Stop,” the stunt men didn’t realize she was saying stop as an actress. So it ended up being quite complicated at first, but then luckily she wasn’t really badly hurt. It was extraordinary, actually, being in the middle, as I’ve certainly never experienced any physical violence. I learned lots of jiu-jitsu, too, so that was fun. So it wasn’t peaceful, it was extraordinary.

WEISS: I actually grew up doing jiu-jitsu.

BONHAM CARTER: Did you enjoy it?

WEISS: I loved it. I liked that you could be small, and it’s about using the right moves to find your power, versus brute strength.

BONHAM CARTER: That’s exactly the method that I wanted to get across. That’s what I thought was so potent for Edith: it wasn’t about brute force; it was about skill. Women can hold their own against men.

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More Amazon adventures await via Kindle Worlds

Suffrajitsu Stories on Kindle Worlds

Readers who have enjoyed the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy take note;  more Amazon adventures await via Kindle Worlds!

Kindle Worlds is an innovative platform that allows licensed “fan fiction” and author collaborations set in various fictional worlds.  Via this platform, authors are  able to create and publish their own stories inspired by the adventures of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons.

All of these prose stories feature characters showcased in the Suffrajitsu trilogy.  They also introduce new protagonists and villains into the dangerous milieu of London at the height of the suffragette struggle …

The Isle of Dogs, by Michael Lussier

“London, 1913.

The body of a young socialite is pulled from the Thames. Her suicide note hints at blackmail, conspiracy and corruption in high places.

Meanwhile, a mysterious street gang is moving through the East End with military precision, leaving a trail of murder and mutilation in its wake.

Enter Persephone Wright and her outlaw band of Bartitsu-trained suffragette Amazons, who will stop at nothing to avenge a fallen comrade…”

Carried Away, by Ray Dean

Carried Away cover small“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?”

The Second-Story Girl, by Mark Lingane

Second-Story Girl cover smaller

“London, 1910. Spoilt and wild, Genevieve Cranston is a party girl with little to live for when her reckless lifestyle flings into the gutters after the suspicious death of her father and the mysterious disappearance of her younger brother Lindsey.

Rescued, redeemed and trained for action by the radical suffragette Amazons, Genevieve will stop at nothing to find her missing brother. She is soon caught up in a dense web of deceit and double-dealing, as both sides of the political landscape manoeuvre to shape the future of the free world.

Time is running out, war is on the horizon and Genevieve needs to grow up fast. Lindsey is an important player in the game of cat and mouse, and with the aid of some gifted friends, Genevieve is hell-bent on saving him, and upon revenge.

Unless it all goes wrong …”

The Pale Blue Ribbon, by John Longenbaugh

PBR cover

The Pale Blue Ribbon tells the story of Toupie Lowther, the fiercest of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, and reveals an altogether different beginning than what you might expect. A frivolous girl becomes a dangerous and powerful woman in a story of challenges met, swordplay engaged and romance betrayed.”

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Your chance to write Suffrajitsu stories …

Suffrajitsu Stories on Kindle Worlds

This is your invitation to create (and profit from) 10,000 + word prose stories set in the world of Suffrajitsu!

Based on Tony Wolf’s graphic novel trilogy, Suffrajitsu Stories on Kindle Worlds relate the further adventures of the Amazons; a secret society of women  who serve as bodyguards and field agents for the most radical branch of the women’s rights movement.

Contributing writers will be given a detailed, illustrated series guide and active creative/editorial feedback via the private Suffrajitsu forum, as well as marketing support.

The stories will be published via Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, an innovative licensing and publishing platform that allows authors to legally produce (and profit from) stories set in various established fictional universes:

The current Suffrajitsu stories available on Kindle Worlds include:

The Pale Blue Ribbon, by John Longenbaugh
The Isle of Dogs, by Michael Lussier
Carried Away, by Ray Dean
The Second-Story Girl, by Mark Lingane

Interested writers should contact us via contact@suffrajitsu.com including a link to at least one writing sample.

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“The Second-Story Girl”: a Suffrajitsu novella by Mark Lingane

We’re pleased to be able to present this interview with Australian author Mark Lingane, whose new Suffrajitsu novella The Second Story Girl is now available from Kindle Worlds.

Second-Story Girl cover smallerLondon, 1910. Spoilt and wild, Genevieve Cranston is a party girl with little to live for when her reckless lifestyle flings into the gutters after the suspicious death of her father and the mysterious disappearance of her younger brother Lindsey.

Rescued, redeemed and trained for action by the radical suffragette Amazons, Genevieve will stop at nothing to find her missing brother. She is soon caught up in a dense web of deceit and double-dealing, as both sides of the political landscape manoeuvre to shape the future of the free world.

Time is running out, war is on the horizon and Genevieve needs to grow up fast. Lindsey is an important player in the game of cat and mouse, and with the aid of some gifted friends, Genevieve is hell-bent on saving him, and upon revenge.

 

Q:  What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era of the Foreworld?

M.L.: I’ve been dabbling with a futuristic steampunk series, but wanted to write something more in line with the actual Victorian era. The opportunity to contribute to the Foreworld popped up, and I thought, well, Edwardian/Victorian, that’s got to be close …

Q:  What were the greatest challenges in writing this story?

M.L.: The writing style of that era was much more formal, directly at odds with my own style. Also, I had to revise a lot. History wasn’t a strong subject for me at school. Then making sure that the history didn’t get in the way of the story …

Q: In what way?

M.L.: My previous knowledge of this subject, from school, amounted to a woman jumping out in front of a horse at a horse race. Reductionism to the point of absurdism. And so I researched, and the more I researched, the more I realized I didn’t know. But, what was more shocking, when I discussed these issues with a younger generation, they knew nothing about women’s suffrage.

Q: Nothing at all?  How did you explain it?

M.L.: As with most civil movements, it starts with someone with an epic amount of bravery, accompanied by either a burning rage of fairness, or a breaking point. Brave people standing up and saying ‘no more’. The brutality. The ridiculous laws. The bloody-mindedness. It hardly seems to fit in a civilized world.

It is hard to get your head around how such a simple and obvious right was perceived as being so offensive in such recent history. But the women stood strong – shoulder to shoulder – enduring, and they won.

Q: In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

M.L.: Fourteen thousand people in the UK are over one hundred years old. Everything has changed within living memory.  In a world where there are so many things to know, do we have time and inclination to revisit the past?

I believe that when it comes to basic human rights, these are the ones that should be pushed the strongest and loudest. Civil rights campaigns are the events that have made the world a better place. Learn about it. Talk about it. Because, as the world moves on in so many ways, at the base of ‘change’ is us – people, and people make a difference, from the individual to the wider society.

The world is better today than it was a hundred years ago, but it’s not massively different. Suffrage was about the vote, yes, but also it was about equality. It was about discrimination. Many of those same issues still haunt our society and world today. We fear change and things we do not understand. We fear ‘them’. Information (true or false) about ‘them’ is easier and quicker to disseminate. We rant about minor irritations in the isolation of our homes with the internet as the megaphone. We lock ourselves away, with nothing but opinion as king and fact relegated to an afterthought after the heat has died down, distracted from the issues that are worth debating. Equality is one of them. Possibly the one to debate. Add your voice, because debate leads to revolution, which leads to change.

Q: “Be the change you want to see in the world”?

M.L.: Yes.  One hundred years ago, the world was different. If we forget that then in another hundred years it’ll still be the same.

Q: Do you have any philosophies or advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?

M.L.: It’s all about the editor. And try to write something with a message. Before you finish your story, find the heart in your work and make sure it says what you want to say. Give the reader something to think about when they close the book. It’s your own journey, so keep your head down and stay out of trouble. Don’t read the reviews/comments. And I’m serious about the editor.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.L.: Authors like reviews!  I have other books available in the lobby. Well, some of us have got to make a living. I said to him, ‘Bernie.’ I said, ‘They’ll never make their money back …

 

Bio:

Mark was first published at the ripe old age of eight, when a local newspaper published his review of Disney on Ice. The next time his name was in print was a lifetime later, at the age of fifteen, when a national magazine ran his review of the Commodore 64. It was downhill from there, picking up a weekly columns in national newspapers, which funded a rather noncommittal path through university, studying a wide range of topics from Robotics, Anthropology, Philosophy, Computer Science, and Psychology.

After more than a decade as a newspaper columnist, he turned technical writer for resource companies, which provided the opportunity to travel and live in some desolate and exotic locations where the locals don’t like you much.
His novels include the multi-award-winning Tesla Evolution Series, The Ellen Martin Disasters series, and several hard-boiled Science Fiction movies stories.

Links:
web: http://mark-mywords.co/
twit: @markLingane
amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Lingane/e/B00B5TE5RY
Mark’s books are also available on iTunes, Nook, Smashwords and Kobo.

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“Carried Away”: A Suffrajitsu story by Ray Dean

Carried Away cover smallWe’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.

 

More of Ray’s stories are available via Amazon.com …

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“The Isle of Dogs”: a Suffrajitsu novella by Michael Lussier

Isle of Dogs cover small

We’re very pleased to be able to bring you this interview with Michael Lussier, whose new Suffrajitsu-inspired novella The Isle of Dogs is now available via Kindle Worlds.

Isle of Dogs is a dark, hard-edged mystery/revenge drama that pits Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons against an insidious new enemy:

“London: July, 1913.

The body of a young socialite is pulled from the Thames, her suicide note hinting at blackmail, conspiracy and corruption in high places.

Meanwhile, a mysterious street gang is moving through the East End with military precision. leaving a trail of murder and mutilation in its wake.

Enter Persephone Wright and her outlaw band of Bartitsu-trained suffragette Amazons, who will stop at nothing to avenge a fallen comrade …”

Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era?

M.L.: Style and personal taste have a lot to do with it.  I’ve always been a voracious reader, and there was something about Victorian and Edwardian literature that enchanted me when I was young.  I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Brontës,  Bram Stoker, G. K. Chesterton, Baroness Orczy, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.  I even enjoyed – god help me – that occult oddball Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Q: And what was it about the Foreworld Saga?

M.L: I am particularly drawn to the Foreworld because there are still huge areas of Edwardian society that have rarely been explored outside of academia. Suffrajitsu is a breath of fresh air, in that regard.  It isn’t so much historical revisionism as it is a shadow history of people who were shoved to the margins because they were poor, foreign, queer or female.

2) Can you describe some of the challenges in writing The Isle of Dogs?

M.L.: The amount of research that needed to be done was staggering.

I never imagined that I would spend more than a couple hours of my life studying Burke’s Peerage or exploring the links between C. & E. Morton’s Bloater Fish Paste and the Millwall Athletic Football Club.   Poor naïve bastard: I sacrificed whole days and weekends to these subjects.

3) What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?

M.L.: My story concerns the activities of a revived Hellfire Club, so I spent quite a bit of time researching contemporary attitudes toward sexuality.

There is a misconception that the Victorians were essentially prim, high-minded eunuchs.   This isn’t even remotely true.

Q: So what were they?

M.L: Several popular music hall songs of that period that are far filthier than anything I’ve ever heard in a bar or machine shop.  I’m not talking ‘saucy’ or ‘bawdy’.  Eskimo Nell and Kafoozalum are vulgar, profane and ribald on a level that surpasses Lil’ Kim and Too $hort.

I also came across an obscure genre, which I call Erotic Biography.  Probably the best known examples are Walter’s My Secret Life and The Romance of Lust.  These are explicit memoirs which detail an anonymous gentleman’s sexual development and experiences over the course of many years and several volumes.   They portray Victorian upper-class sex as ravenous, male-oriented, compulsive and predatory.  Maids and serving girls were obliged to observe the droit du seigneur, prostitution was commonplace, pregnancies were disowned, any female age nine and above was considered fair game.  These stories are Dickensian in a really disconcerting way.

4) In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

M.L.: Suffrajitsu is the intersection of many fascinating underground streams.  Feminism, ‘mixed martial arts’, drug addiction, homosexuality, violence against women, police intimidation and institutional intolerance.  These are issues and subjects that are still incredibly pertinent to 21st century readers.

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

M.L.: Read as much as you can, and study the techniques of your favorite authors.  Sit down and write every day.  Don’t worry about quality at first – no piece of writing is ever very good before the first revision.  Find an editor and listen very carefully to his/her advice.  Take your reader feedback with a grain of salt.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.L.: When I was young, there was a truism in advertising that declared the most coveted market demographic to be men between the ages of 18 and 49.  This is no longer true, although for the most part nobody in power wants to admit it just yet.

Women are emerging as a very powerful consumer block.  They represent 60% of the world’s population and 78% of gross domestic product.  I’ve seen reports that suggest that women will soon control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the United States.   They are, for the most part, better educated and more media savvy than their male counterparts.

Additionally, young women are entering into fields that were once considered male-only; music, law, video gaming, martial arts, etc.

As the economic clout of women grows, so too will the visibility of their issues and interests.

Having spent so much time with Emmeline Pankhurst recently, I cannot help but wonder how she would seek to leverage this power in pursuit of equality in a country where the Violence Against Women Act can barely make it through Congress.

Bio

Michael Lussier has been a machinist, an orderly in a psychiatric hospital and (on one occasion only) a celebrity babysitter.  He is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Bartitsu, which can be found online here. As a general rule, Michael hates to talk about himself.

twitter: @Decervelage

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“The Pale Blue Ribbon”: a Suffrajitsu short story by John Longenbaugh

PBR cover

We’re pleased to be able to present this interview with John Longenbaugh, the author of the short story The Pale Blue Ribbon which is now available via the Kindle Worlds platform.

“The Pale Blue Ribbon” tells the history of Toupie Lowther, the fiercest of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, and reveals an altogether different beginning than what you might expect.

A frivolous girl becomes a dangerous and powerful woman in a story of challenges met, swordplay engaged and romance betrayed.”

Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era of the Foreworld?

J.L: For the last few years the focus of much of my fiction has been Steampunk. The Foreworld history hews more closely to the world we know than my own, which features classic Steam tropes like aethereal batteries, airships and mechanical body parts, but it all draws inspiration from the same historical period. Oh, and the fact that my MA from York University is in Turn-of-the-Century English fiction has sure been helpful.

Q: What were the greatest challenges in writing this story?

J.L: In keeping with Tony’s dictates, I wanted to make sure that the duel stayed as close to an accurate description of an Edwardian fencing match as possible. While I’ve done a little fencing (and use cutlass in my Bartitsu class), I had to spend a lot of time thinking through the “choreography” of the fight, and using some of the language of fencing while still making the action clear to the general reader.

Q: What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?

J.L.: Learning that Toupie Lowther was both an ambulance driver in the First World War and the inspiration for the main character in the classic post-War novel The Well of Loneliness, much to her personal displeasure. She lived an amazing but ultimately very sad life and I am glad to give her a chance for a bit of derring-do in a fictional setting.

Q: In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

J.L.: It seems that the gender wars are again heating up, stoked by a discontent among people in the West about all sorts of political flashpoints. In a lot of ways I feel like the issues were clearer in the time of suffragists, because the fight for the vote was an achievable goal. Now so much of the fighting that’s going on seems to be among the various members of the Left themselves, a state that I often find frankly depressing when it’s accompanied by stalled politics and low voter turnout.

I hope that the Suffrajitsu series will encourage people to remember what tremendous sacrifices were made to bring the vote to women, and to remind them that while we squabble about proper pronouns and who has what sort of privilege, women in this country still earn a fractional percentage of what men do in most jobs. There are bigger issues to address and larger fights to wage than the ones that consume us.

Q: Do you have any philosophies or advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?

J.L.: Write what you love, and write the stories you absolutely have to tell. Read not just for enjoyment, but writers who challenge and intimidate you. You may never write with the imagination of Virginia Woolf or the pristine clarity of Susan Sontag, but don’t settle for just reading the easy stuff. Scare yourself with great writing.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

J.L.: The only thing more fun than reading about Bartitsu is getting up on your feet and trying it. If you ever get a chance to do so, I highly recommend it.

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