World Book Day, International Women’s Day and NooNoo Pants Face

March 7th, 2019

Today is World Book Day. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. As an author, both resonate very well with me.

I have celebrated World Book Day by reading to my daughter’s class. Aside from being called ‘NooNoo Pants Face,’ I escaped relatively unscathed and particularly enjoyed all the questions that the children fired at me about being a writer. This is what I love about conversations with children; they are honest, open and inquisitive. There are no filters with what they think and what they want to know. It was a very rewarding experience.

Tomorrow I will be celebrating International Women’s Day by spending time with some of my dearest friends – the University crowd. Like most of my female friendship groups, we are an incredibly supportive group of women. Just as it is with the children that I read to today, there are no filters with us. We can confide in each other, give strength to one another, but most of all, make each other laugh.

I find myself humbled by the strength of women in history. When researching ‘A Shadow Beyond’, I was particularly taken by two women, both of whom, showed immense strength in very different ways.

The first is Elizabeth Hancock. I will not give away any spoilers to my novel, but the ordeal that she faced (all true events) and to do what she had to do, moved me deeply. I imagined Elizabeth to be a woman who was of incredible strength, who would have done anything to protect her loved ones and her children. In the fictitious side of the novel, Elizabeth was a rock in her family and a rock in the community. She was incredibly kind and nurturing to my historical main protagonist, Rachel. It was easy for me to imagine that she was a woman of a solid reserve, a woman who would have been well liked and respected by her fellow villagers.

Interestingly, I learned that she had her last child late in life, even for this day and age. Evidently, this was not uncommon as in those times, if a woman was widowed and she remarried, she would be expected to have more children. Whilst I do not believe that Elizabeth Hancock was in the situation of having to remarry, it is interesting that she had her last born so near to 40 years old.

The second strong woman in my novel is Catherine Mompesson. Catherine’s character developed of its own accord as I wrote. It may sound strange for me to say it, but often when I write and I’m in full flow, the characters develop themselves and start doing things that I had not planned beforehand! The nature of the relationship between Catherine and Rachel is a good example of this rule. Again, whilst Catherine Mompesson was reputed to have been the very backbone of the village of Eyam, tirelessly tending to and supporting the sick, the fictitious part of my novel that explores her relationship with Rachel came about in a quite unexpected way. It just happened.

Whilst I was writing, I realised how much I admired and respected Catherine Mompesson. In my opinion, she was a role model, not just for women, for anyone. She did have the opportunity to leave the village before they quarantined themselves but she chose to stay. Her story is an incredible one.

Catherine is a huge role model for Rachel. We see Rachel’s character change throughout the book and this is largely down to the influence of Catherine (as well as other factors).

So tomorrow night, when I raise a glass of wine with my good friends, I will make a toast with a phrase coined by another wonderfully strong woman in my life: “When women get together and support each other, powerful and amazing things happen.”

Quote source: Ruth Spink, Yoga Guru and Wise Woman!

I will of course be doing all of this under the guise of ‘NooNoo Pants Face’, author of ‘A Shadow Beyond’ and ‘The Wishing House’.

You can buy ‘A Shadow Beyond’ now on Amazon.

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