Today I have the pleasure of participating in Penguin Canada's blog tour for Sharon Biggs Waller's debut novel A Mad, Wicked Folly. Sharon has been kind enough to answer some questions on behalf of Will Fletcher, one of the characters (and love interests!) in the story. To find out more about him and his story, just keep reading.
What is it like being a police constable in London in 1909?
The suffrage movement took up a lot of police time. 1909 (and the years of suffrage movement in general) was a strange and confusing time for a lot of constables because they weren't used to dealing with the arrest of women. Most women they encountered were members of the working class, namely prostitutes. When the suffragettes came along, constables found themselves dealing with women who were often socially superior and who wouldn't go quietly. The constables were instructed to "act with firmness as well as tact." But sometimes constables were forced to handle them roughly anyway. Many police officers hated treating women in this way, but others relished it. The suffragettes had an odd relationship with the police. They needed them for protection from hostile crowds, but the police were also enforcing rules that suffragists found unfair.
What is is about the Suffragettes movement that made Will want to help them, even though all other police constables seem to be against it all?
William Fletcher is a young man who believes in fairness and in helping people. He feels he's tasked to keep the peace, but he doesn't agree with preventing people from fighting for their rights. When Will became a police constable he promised to protect victims, not create them. In addition, as he tells Vicky, he doesn't see the point in denying half the population the right to vote.
How has Will's job as a police constable helped him write his story?
As a police constable Will sees the suffering of people up close, and so he knows the destructive nature of poverty and how class can hold people in poverty. He's also seen how destructive inequality can be. His beat lies in the wealthiest parts of town, but he lives in a poorer one. Most people in Edwardian England remained in their own area and didn't usually frequent places where other classes lived. But Will moves through all faces of London every day, both in his work life and his personal life. He's able to see and experience life from many angles, and that helps him create believable characters.
What did Will think when he first made Victoria Darling's acquaintance?
I love this question! I thought about it a lot because when Will first sees Vicky, he looks at her like he knows her. I think we all feel this way when we first meet people we have a natural connection with. We get this feeling of, "oh, there you are!" I imagined Will saw the intensity on Vicky's face when she was drawing and recognized that in himself. Here was this potential dangerous situation and Vicky wasn't backing down. Rather, she was frantically trying to capture the scene, like any fervent artist or writer would. (Of course, Will thought she was beautiful, too!) When he heard Vicky denying she was a suffragette, he was intensely disappointed because he had this idea about her, and now he was wrong, and that caused him to act like a rotter. Will hates a coward.
What was it like working and collaborating with Victoria? The two seem to have quite an unusual relationship.
Both Vicky and Will support each other's talents wholeheartedly, and so they both feel encouraged and accepted when working together. You are right that this is unusual because they are both of different classes, but art and literature has a way of transcending class and gender, so if you look at their relationship from this angle it makes perfect sense. Of course, that comes back to bite Will on the bum. He forgets they are from two different worlds and starts to see her as something other than a collaborator.
What does Will hope for in the future?
He hopes that Vicky will be happy to keep collaborating with him and that they will be able to earn money from their work. As far as life with Vicky goes, Will is going to keep that one to himself. :)
Thank you Sharon for being kind enough to answer these questions on behalf of Will. It was great getting to know more about him. If you are interested in seeing what I thought of A Mad, Wicked Folly, be sure to check out my review.