Author Interview | Conversing with L. Davis Munro on behalf of her Women’s History novel “Emmy Nation: Undercover Suffragette”.

Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2016 by jorielov , , , 8 Comments

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I have happily been focusing on a concentration of Women’s Studies, Feminist Historical Fiction and Women’s Rights on Jorie Loves A Story lately; wherein I am sleuthing out a bit of Women’s History *ahead!* of the official kick-off of Women’s History Month which is in March. One of the key reasons I’ve been growing in curiosity about strong female centred literature is due to the nature of today’s gender inequality and the continuous journey we are taking to make inroads towards progress where Equality is secured for everyone without limitations or conditions.

I was recently challenged by the author of a Feminist point-of-view narrative involving a women’s rights leader (Victoria Woodhull) wherein I took encouragement from a modern day Feminist who is advocating for reading stories which not just challenge our perceptions but challenge us to go further with our readings than we might even realise we could go previously. Herein I am referring to Emma Watson. For the full ruminations and how Ms Watson’s movement of #OurSharedShelf played a role in my readings of The Renegade Queen kindly read my review.

It is by coincidence that I would find Emmy Nation so close to discovering The Renegade Queen as both parlay across similar themes and insights into the legacy of women fighting to pave a way towards progress for later generations. It is on the merits of their work (early Feminists, Suffragettes and civil rights advocates) that we are able to have the freedoms and equal rights we have now but we still have a ways yet to go before all our rights are truly acknowledged.

For this interview, I wanted to get to know this author’s inspiration and connection to a period of history that is dearly showcased moreso now than it has been in the past, and to gain insight into what inspires an author to re-examine this window of History.

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Emmy Nation

Being an independent woman in 1913 London is certainly empowering, but Emmy Nation is tired of the inescapable damp seeping through her worn shoes and the hopeless grumblings of her stomach.

When she receives an offer from Scotland Yard to boost her typist income by spying on the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), Emmy jumps at the chance. But as she grows closer to the WSPU women the lines begin to blur, and when a painful part of her past resurfaces Emmy begins to question her choices.

How far are you willing to go to secure your equality?

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How did you conceive the idea to retrofit a personalised delivery for pre-orders of “Emmy Nation” (from Fly Girl Fitness) because it was quite classic and ingenious; you wrapped the books, added tags and bookmarks, whilst packing them into your basket of your bike. Have you come up with other creative ways to inspire a smile from your readers where something retro yields to more joy?

Munro responds: I really wanted the pre-ordered books to be something special. These people bought the book based on nothing more than the hope that it would be good and the back cover copy and the trailer. It was very generous of them all to buy copies before it was even published. I wanted to really get the chance to say thank you. It was also nearing Christmas, so I thought I would wrap them up like presents. I wanted to make them look pretty and also have the space to write a little thank you to each person. The bike just happens to be my main form of transportation until winter hits!

At the moment, I haven’t done much else along these same lines. I feel like I can just start to connect on a more personal level with readers, now that the book has been out for a few months. I would love to come up with more ways to delve into the historical time period and have fun getting to know readers. Any suggestions?

You could host a type-in to help connect to readers who appreciate typewriters and yesteryear in such a way as to celebrate the old-fashioned way of writing not only stories or journalism articles but postal correspondences. Type-ins are gaining more traction now that the Typosphere has taken hold and has found it’s audience.

I think it’s brilliant you’ve reduced your impact on the environment and on your local community’s air quality by reducing the fuell to commute ratio whilst using a bicycle! I think it’s the whole idea you had though that truly set a new standard for author self-promotion and ingenuity!

Do you personally own a vintage typewriter, as I noted there was one on the cover of your novel; I recognized it could be hinting directly towards the story itself, rather than an author’s inclination to opt for lo-tech over hi-tech; but even so; I was quite curious, what forms of technology are you most passionate about?

Munro responds: I did own the very typewriter on the cover of the book for a short period of time! But, I am pretty hi-tech in terms of my writing habits. I am a laptop and iPad writer most of the time. However, I do use a notebook to brainstorm and when I get stuck on things, I often find that returning to pen and paper helps to get things moving again.

I love the simplistic design of the book’s cover and anything that champions typewriters is aces to me! I tend to be the complete opposite, opting instead for lo-tech vs hi-tech options. I cannot wait to hear the keys of my late 1930s / early 1940s Royal under my fingers as I dearly want to shy away from my dependence of a computer and return to a retro approach to writing. Notebooks are brilliant for brainstorming and anything that redirects us to handwriting is good form, too.

I love the personable touch you granted the characters within your novel; their names hold more inside them than a name, and I was curious; was this intentional or organically inspired to transpire? What have you further learnt about choosing names as you work on your second novel and the sequel to “Emmy Nation”?

Munro responds: The names in this novel are really personal to me. Most of the main characters are named after people from my grandmother’s family history. My grandmother passed away the same year I started writing, so I did this as a kind of extended dedication to her. However, I think the names really were just names, it was the characters that brought them to life and gave them power.

I think choosing names can be really challenging at times. When I look for period appropriate names I always seem to land on names that sound too similar to each other. In choosing names for the sequel, I am trying to really look for these more unique names that were around at the time so that characters stand out a bit more from each other. In this book, I found it hard to write and to read the Emmy and Edith scenes because they begin with the same letter. So, I am being more strategic in how I give names to characters.

I do agree – the naming of characters is a bit of a precise art form in of itself because it’s not name alone that generates a character but the internal make-up of their nature and the actions therein. A name can provide a guideline but it’s how a character is dimensionally developed that can change the projection of a name on a character and how a character can later fill a name in a way we do not originally foresee. I love when names are historically known for a specific timescape and era; it’s actually quite interesting uncovering how far names go back in History and the Etymology of them as well is truly intriguing.

I still love the back-story involving your grand-mother and your ancestral line of heritage as it makes the book series a bit more personal and special.

What drew you inside the world of the Suffragette movement initially and how did this bridge the gap between your grandmother’s seeds of inspiration and the body of work you’ve created? How did you pull together fact, fiction and the beautiful line in-between the two?

Munro responds: I grew up with so many family members around me that taught me some really feminist perspectives. I always considered myself a feminist and I thought I knew where that word came from. So, imagine my surprise when I read a play in fourth year university about the suffragettes being tortured in jail and their other struggles! That really began my journey into the world of the suffrage movement and my soul searching question, “how did I get this far in life not knowing this history?”.

My grandmother really instilled in me the power of storytelling and how it can be both entertaining as well as a learning tool. I tend to naturally move into fictional narratives when I am learning new things, especially historical things. Fiction helps me bring history to life in ways that allow me to connect with it and that resonate with my twenty-first century perspective. Pulling it all together and bridging the gap between the fact and fiction is such a personal thing. I wrote the type of historical novel that I wanted to read and I hoped that other people would enjoy the balance of that line as much as I did.

I could claim the same – as until I started seeking out Feminist driven Historical Fiction, I too, was not as aware of the harder points of the historical past for women who were attempting to change the status quo. It was when I first read Rivington Street by Meredith Tax I started to get a proper sense about the struggles women were having asserting their rights and how dearly difficult it was to affect change. My soul felt crushed by that novel so much so, I still to this day cannot read the sequel Union Square.

Prior to Emmy Nation it was through my readings of The Renegade Queen on behalf of Victoria Woodhull I started to see the origins of women’s rights evolving out of domestic abuse and the necessity for strength in the face of an onslaught of injustice. Woodhull’s life is jarring at best, inspiring as a whole and a challenging read when your not expecting what you find inside her legacy. We must always keep our minds open to new discoveries and new knowledge that alights on our path.

I definitely concur with you about reading Historical Fiction in order to gain insight into the historical past where living history and the persons who survived events that we can barely imagine now is the best tangible way to still connect to their legacies. Like you, I like being able to draw that distinctive connection and re-live what they saw through the works of Biographical Historical Fiction. I even found a new penchant for ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ which stands out from it’s counterparts for being emotionally driven rather than by fact alone.

What do you feel is harder to convey in a work of fiction? Original characters or setting original characters against a known backdrop of history, whereupon living persons might need to interact for historical sketching?

Munro responds: I found it very difficult to set original characters into a historical backdrop. I was so worried about whether I had the history right, if I had done enough research or the best research, if I had missed something huge, if I was doing justice to the times or the real people I was portraying in the book. I have to admit, I am looking forward to writing something set in the present day, so I don’t need to worry about all of that on top of writing a compelling story.

This is why I give a lot of credit to the writers who are writing compelling historical fiction because they are filling the gap between memory, research and imagination to allow us this portal of insight to what we cannot know of personally but we can intentional make a point of envisioning through another person’s apt knowledge of the era in time being presented. I find Historical authors are quite keen on sensing what to share and what to withhold; how to balance their research with their own intuition and have a grace about bringing historical figures to life whilst remaining true to their own characters at the same time. It’s a delicate balance, yes, but one that as a reader I am fully happy to champion & celebrate!

As an aside, I can understand why you might want to move into a Contemporary setting but don’t be surprised if the past re-calls itself to your attention. Sometimes stories can surprise us by how they inspire us to pen their tales.

You mentioned previously you were working on a cosy mystery set against secret societies, can you relay what perked your interest in this subject and/or what led you to write cosy vs hard-boiled?

Munro responds: I am drawn to this genre mainly because I love reading it. I am so intrigued by mysteries but also don’t enjoy spending my time reading really scary or intense crime novels, I like to be able to sleep at night without nightmares. I also love the concept of a secret societies. To me they feel very epic and ancient and I think that leads to some really interesting mysteries.

I definitely agree!! There isn’t much joy to read a Mystery, Suspense or Thriller novel if your mind is overloaded by stimuli that has pushed you past where the story stops being enjoyable and becomes quite taxing to finish! I’m quite sensitive to seeking out the ‘cosier’ side of the ledger when it comes to these sorts, and to keep an eye out for the tradition of the genre set by it’s grandmother and grandfathers of it’s legacy.

Don’t they though? Secret societies have this illusion about them and a shadowy mask about them where nothing is ever truly understood or known.

What was the greatest surprise you’ve learnt about researching “Emmy Nation” in regards to progressive improvements on behalf of women’s rights and freedoms?

Munro responds: I think one of the biggest surprises is how many of the basic arguments and principles are the same today as they were back then. So much has changed and yet, so much hasn’t. It is interesting and shocking to see the parallels at times.

Sometimes it is as if no time has passed at all and other times it is as if all the time that could catapult us further into the future has taken us only a few steps from where we left off.

Is there a section of the novel that you found especially difficult to describe and/or tuck inside to where visually and emotionally you could feel as connected to that moment as you hoped the reader could?

Munro responds: I don’t think I could pinpoint one spot. So many scenes were difficult to write and then I would have breakthrough moments with them and then they would go back to being difficult. Or the scenes that were easy to write at first were hard to re-write in later drafts. It really changed with where I was in the moment of writing.

How long of a series do you speculate “Emmy Nation” might span? Is it a short trilogy or a longer arc of narratives interconnecting themselves until the last of their stories are writ?

Munro responds: If all goes according to plan it will be a trilogy. I am in the middle of the second book at the moment and I believe that the story will reach into a third book. However, I am happy to let the story play itself out and see where that takes me.

What is your favourite impression about life in the early 20th Century London?

Munro responds: I love the image of women marching down the streets in London and really “busting out of their corsets” so to speak. It seems like a really invigorating time period with so many preconceived ideals being turned upside down.

If you could pick out five things from the 1900s that you wish were still viable and available today, what would they be and why?

Munro responds: To be completely honest, I don’t think I would want to pick anything. What I love about this period of history is how many contemporary things were put in motion, from technology to medicine to politics, art and more. I love that what started then as a telegram is now text messaging, or that the typewriter is now a computer, capable of typing faster, saving your work, spell checking, etc. I wouldn’t want to trade those advancements for the older version.

One thing I do wish was still a bigger part of our culture today is letter writing. I think we’ve lost some of that deep personal connection by only using short, sound-byte style communication.

Hmm. Here I differ a bit as I like old world arts and crafts inasmuch as I like old technology that is far more reliable than modern. (i.e. I will one day have a lovely collection of retrofitted vintage typewriters!) I think text messaging has ruined communication for the younger generation as they forget how to speak to each other and strangely letter writing isn’t obsolete as people think it is as it’s alive and well! There is a hearty community of postal letter writers world-wide, as evident by the blog of The Missive Maven and the members of the Letter Writers Alliance. I’ve been a letter writer since I was eleven and I don’t foresee myself stopping except for short hiatuses if life intervenes. I think we have to all remain conscience of what is important to us and if tangible communication is one of them, we have to find ways to re-instill it into our everyday lives.

What do you feel is the greatest asset to both writing historical fiction and reading historical fiction?

Munro responds: I think the greatest asset for both writing and reading historical fiction is being open minded. The history and the story are not always going to blend in perfect harmony and one or the other will sometimes need to take a hit. I decided to write Emmy Nation as a fiction novel first and a historical novel second. When the historical facts really stood in the way of the story, some liberties had to be taken. This was not because I was trying to re-write history but simply because I was trying to tell a dynamic story rather than write a text book. It is fiction, but I hope fiction that will inspire readers to do their own research.

I think most of us who are passionately dedicated readers of Historical Fiction understand the liberties needed to be taken in order to paint the story appropriately as the same can be said for adaptations of novels into motion pictures. It is one thing to remain authentically true to a specific period of time as best as you can without it coming across as Contemporary or too modern but there are limitations of course, and part of the allure of reading Historical Fiction is being caught up in the journey of the character. At least, this is true for me. I think you took the right approach in other words!

When your not writing or researching your novels, what inspires you and gives you the most joy?

Munro responds: Besides wine and chocolate? When I am not working on my own stories I love being told stories, in almost any form. Books, television, movies, plays, podcasts, you name it! I also love riding my bicycle and collaborating creatively with other people.

Sounds like a brilliantly well-balanced life and a highly creative one at that! I appreciated your feedback and your conversation as it helped give a bit of a glimpse into your writerly life inasmuch as how you approach composing the thoughts behind your stories and characters. It’s an insightful footprint and I hope my readers have enjoyed reading our conversation as much as I did composing my responses.

About L. Davis Munro

L. Davis Munro

L. Davis Munro holds a master’s degree with a focus on women’s suffrage theatre and works in theatre and dance. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and her dog.

Author Links Updated: January, 2018

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I look forward to sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel! Due to severe storms my review of ‘Emmy Nation’ might be delayed. I appreciate your patience. I might re-schedule if I run into technical problems, and look forward to sharing my thoughts on the story as soon as I am able too.

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Kindly leave your comments and thoughts for Ms Munro in the threads below!

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Emmy Nation”, book synopsises, author photograph of L. Davis Munro and author biography were all provided by iRead Book Tours and used with permission. Conversations with the Bookish created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2016 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Feminine Heroism, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, the Nineteen Hundreds, The Writers Life, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights, Women's Suffrage




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8 responses to “Author Interview | Conversing with L. Davis Munro on behalf of her Women’s History novel “Emmy Nation: Undercover Suffragette”.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Valerie!

      It must definitely is! :) The timing of reading about Emmy Nation turnt out to be the best for me, as during my reading of The Silver Locket, it became quite apparent this was the year to focus on Feminist literature and stories where women championed the prejudices against them. I was truly struck by how strong of a vision Ms Munro had for Emmy and how she conveyed it with not only conviction but with clarity for the time in which Emmy lived. I dearly think you’ll find yourself just as engrossed if you get to read this one, too!

      Thanks for dropping by and letting me know I caught your interest for a #nextread! :) I love having the chance to interview authors about their stories, as it adds a new layer of insight about their stories, giving readers more of an advantage to know if they want to read the book(s) afterwards!

    • Thank you, Ms Debra!

      It was a heap of joy for me to put this interview together and to peer inside the mind of Ms Munro! We equally enjoyed where the conversation took us! I appreciate your visit!

  1. Thank you for allowing us into this brilliant conversation. Jorie and Lia, I felt like I was invited into a personal and private conversation and appreciated all the questions, responses and the conversation that this interview inspired. Two very intelligent, thoughtful woman! Thank you.

    • Hallo Ms Jane,

      I am so very happy you’ve dropped by today for our conversation! It was quite stimulating and engrossing on both sides, as the author mentioned things that had me pensive and I’ve thankfully found out today she felt the same! Yes, very much so – you were quite apt to describe it as a peering in on a private personal conversation, as this is what I hope will happen as I host interviews. Bless you for your insight and your lovely compliments! A pleasure to see your thoughts; thank you!

  2. Hi Jorie!

    Thank you so much for this lovely interview. These questions were so thought provoking to begin with and your responses have given me even more to think about. I am excited to explore The Renegade Queen (it is on my reading list already for 2016!) and the letter writing communities that you pointed out.

    Best,
    Lia

    • Good afternoon, Ms Munro!

      It was such a wicked good conversation, I thought! :) I especially enjoyed where our convo took us and happily have been reading the responses by readers who are following the tour route! I am thankful to hear that you enjoyed the inquisitive nature of my questions and my follow-up responses! I had a feeling you might not have heard about the resurgence of letter writers or this whole hidden community of us who are paper addicted and love writing conversations by post, letter and ink! I do hope you enjoy reading The Renegade Queen, as it truly is a critical story to understand and to be read. I felt the author approached the subject matter with compassion and tact, thereby making a difficult narrative a bit easier to digest. Happy exploring!

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