Thursday, March 17, 2011

Author Bites - Julie Chibbaro on the Past

I have a thing for the past, which is probably one of the reasons why I liked Julie Chibbaro's Deadly so much. Reading an historical fiction book allows you to step back in time for a few hours and experience what is rightly another world. Prudence's world is narrowly seen through her eyes in Deadly and I wanted more. Thankfully Julie was willing to give it. A big thanks to Julie for providing us a small but bigger look into the world that Prudence lived.

“Why is Prudence the way she is?” Donna asked me that about my main character in Deadly, and I hope this will answer her.

Just for a moment, I’m going to ask you to do one thing. Close your inner eyes (not your outer ones, so you can still read), and imagine you are living in a time when you can’t wear pants (if you’re a girl). You have to wear your hair up, and make sure your ankles are covered by the
length of your dress. You are expected to follow an Ideal of Womanhood and can’t open your mouth about your opinions. No, pipe down, we don’t want to hear it. Women aren’t supposed to think.

But you do. Secretly, you see things in people that you’re sure no one else sees – their thoughts, their pain, and you wish you could do something about it (or at least say something!) You wonder why people bleed, you wonder where the food goes once you’ve eaten it (remember, you’re not encouraged to read science books, and they are not available at your school, so these are things are not easily found out). Boys look at you as a possible vessel for their babies. Or not.

There are no women doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers, preachers, rabbis, engineers, scientists, serious artists, mathematicians. Women are not allowed to vote. No women do the things you’re interested in. What is wrong with you? Why do you think about these things? What are you supposed to do with all these thoughts, all this crazy curiosity you have about the world? Where to put your energy, your passion? Will there ever be a place for you?

This is a tiny view into Prudence’s world. Women were not the way we know them today, and that’s what I’ve tried to portray. It feels restrictive, I know, to read her, but I tried to stay true to the time she lived in.

Ok, you can open your eyes now, and be glad you live in the 21st century.

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