It’s amazing how characters can worm their way into your mind. Take Kitty Morland, for instance. She first came poking herself into my consciousness when I was doing some research about Bulahdelah, a small Australian rural town about 145 miles north of Sydney. We’d recently moved to the area, and I was intrigued to know a bit about it, and its history.
I’m a city girl, through and through, but history has
always fascinated me, and I was keen to know about the early days of my
new home. The local Historical Society was very helpful, giving me
access to all their records and photos.
But as I set about my
research I heard this voice nagging me like a drunken parrot. “What
about the women. What about the women.”
Well, what about them? She
gave me no peace until I started to investigate conditions for women at
that time. And I found that many women were treated worse than a man’s
pet dog. In fact, Rose Scott, a leader in the women's suffrage movement
in Australia, wrote: "Men have come to look upon women as a sort of
appendage to themselves, a sort of tail that can only wag when man - the
dog - is pleased!’
It was the general belief before the twentieth
century that women were inferior to men, in every way, with no rights
whatsoever, and the law was framed to that effect.
Wow, no wonder she wanted me to do this research! But there have been powerful women in history. How come?
they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of
them had great power, and were strong, powerful women.
Here Kitty chipped in again. “Hey, look at me, look at me, what about women like me?”
supposed she was one of the ordinary, everyday women, who’d had the
spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be
browbeaten by the men? Was she? And if these women defied custom –
could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?
She gave me the answer. “Yes, I broke out of their male-imposed mould, and I can tell you I had a pretty rotten time of it.”
“I suppose you want to be in the story, do you? Is that what this is all about?”
“Yes, I want you to tell my story. It’s about time someone did.”
And so I’ve told her story, and I’ve called it ‘A Woman of Spirit.’
And if I thought I was going to tell it all in my own way, I was in for a surprise.
trouble with characters is they take the story where they want to go.
Forget your own pre-conce
And when I finished ‘A Woman of
Spirit’ there was no way Kitty was going to let me put her to bed. No,
she told me there was still much more to tell. And she still wanted to
be #1 So it meant another book, Redwoods Book Two. And she is still a
dominant character in that second book, alongside her daughter Joy.
ived ideas, if that’s what they want, you
ignore them at your peril!
decided it’s time to move on and leave her behind. But she doesn’t
agree. She has even infiltrated my dreams. Believe it or not, I dreamed
of her last night. I was standing outside a room with a closed door, and
inside that room someone was hammering on the door. “Let me out, let me
out,” a voice was calling through the door. “You can’t keep me locked
up in here.” It was Kitty. Believe me! So what am I to do? I suppose
I’ll have to let her have her way, and put her in the next book in the
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