A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Edgar Daggers. Over a series of encounters, he promises Penelope the financial security she craves, but at what cost? Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Initially, as Penelope grows into her own in the burgeoning early Women’s Suffrage Movement, Edgar exerts pressure, promising to use his power and access to help her advance. But can he be trusted, or are his words part of an elaborate mind game played between him and his wife? During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love, lust, and the allure of an easier life.
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Every book has a story about its creation, what’s the story behind Mistress Suffragette?
Thanks so much for asking me this great question. I felt that the fictional coverage on the women’s suffrage movement was pretty one-dimensional. Suffragists were portrayed only in terms of their jobs, not in terms of their personal lives. I really wanted to try to change that. I majored in political science at college but realized that I did not know very much about the early women’s movement and I vowed to investigate further. Beyond that, I inherited a box of letters and photographs from my ancestors who lived in the US during the period of time my novel, Mistress Suffragette, covers. I was fascinated by their stories, and I tried to put my wonder on the page. Last, I’ve found that when I am in the heat of creation every single thing I read somehow seems to reflect on the work in progress.
When you did the final read through for your book what was your favorite part of the book, and why?
I read my novel probably four hundred times. It’s not an exaggeration! But I always liked the scene where Penelope discovers that actually she is a good public speaker. She doesn’t realize it–it practically needs to be pulled out of her–and I think that’s a lot of fun.
Downtime is necessary for many writers and artists to get their creative mojo going. What do you do when it’s time for you to relax and unwind?
I think “downtime” may be a myth because the unconscious mind is always poring over the manuscript–trying to improve it. But I enjoy going to galleries, museums, fashion shows, and movies. I take historical tours, and I love vintage shops–feeling like these excursions put me in touch with my characters. So, it’s not exactly time off. Let’s call it “creative gestation.” Travel, too, is fun. I always take a lot of photos and keep good diaries on the places I visit in case I ever want to put them in my stories. As a writer, I’ve been taught to always carry a notebook and just keep observing.
While writing Mistress Suffragette did you learn anything new about yourself?
I learned that I consider my characters my friends and that I have had long heart to heart conversations with them. I also learned to have patience. When the manuscript is ready, it will get published. Lastly, I learned a lot about the history of New York, as well as the other cities my character visits. Sometimes I felt like a literary archaeologist, uncovering the various layers of New York.
Let’s change it up a bit -If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Time travel. I would love to be able to jump into a time travel transporter and go back in time to the period I am writing about. It would also be fun to jump ahead, too!
I’m sure your fans are dying to know what’s next for you. Is there another book in the works?
Absolutely yes! I am working very hard on the sequel now!