Heroine Interview from The Message on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

» Posted on Apr 24, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Heroine Interview from The Message on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

This week I’m hosting Richard Mabry with Stress Test (Leave your email address for a chance to win a signed copy of Stress Test (US entrants only). The winner will be asked to post a review on a site of their choice, and let others know about the book via Twitter, Facebook, or their blog.), Stephanie Grace Whitson with The Message on the Quilt, Sharon Srock with Terri: Women of Valley View, and Nancy Herriman by Josiah’s Treasure. If you want to enter the drawings for the books, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (April 28th) evening.

The Message on the QuiltInterview with the heroine from The Message on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson:

Miss Emilie Rhodes of 1890 Beatrice, Nebraska:

1.  Miss Rhodes, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I’ve just learned how to run a printing press.

2.  What do you do for fun?

Well, I’m the pianist for the Spring Sisters trio, and I really do enjoy playing for them. April, May, and June Spring—yes, really, and yes, we all wonder what on earth Aunt Cornelia was thinking—anyway, they’re my cousins. We’re very close, and they are very good—I’m not just saying that.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle meetings have proven to be more enjoyable that I expected them to be. We’ve learned about all kinds of fascinating subjects, from ancient history to modern poetry to new scientific discoveries and beyond. Of course it’s also a social circle, and some of the girls who come are just hoping to snag a husband, but that can be entertaining, too.

In the summer, my cousins and I make it a point to attend all the Beatrice Bugeaters baseball games so we can root for Bert—he’s our unofficial brother, and if June has her way, we will be officially related one day soon, because June’s in love with Bert. Others would say she has a “crush” on him. I think it’s far more than that, and I hope Bert wakes up soon and sees June as something besides the little girl he used to tease.

3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I’ve put off the inevitable confrontation with Mama and Papa over what I want to do with my life. I can’t seem to find a way to be who I want to be without hurting them. I love them … and when I try to talk myself into making them listen, fear just overwhelms me. What if they put me out? And even if they don’t, I don’t know if I could bear looking across the breakfast table at those two wonderful people and see disappointment on their faces. I just don’t know what to do about it.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?

I’m afraid of ending up like my mother—mired in “causes” because I’m not allowed to do anything truly significant. And pretending that’s satisfying.

5.  What do you want out of life?

I want to look back on my life and be able to point to things I did that made a difference in the world—things that changed for the good because of my work.

6.  What is the most important thing to you?

Oh, my. That word “most” makes the question very difficult to answer. So many things are important to me right now, it’s hard to pick which one is most important. But it’s very important to me to write about things that matter; to challenge people to re-think their positions on some of today’s most important issues. The “Indian question,” for example.

 7.  Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

Most of the reading I do is either required for the Chautauqua Circle or it has to do with something I’m researching. Since meeting “The Man of Many Voices,” I’ve taken a new interest in poetry.

8.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d remove the last two letters from the name Emilie. If I’d been born an “Emil,” most of my problems wouldn’t exist.

9.  Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

He’d probably be incensed if he heard me call him my pet, but my horse Royal and I have had a lot of fun together. He’s the perfect confidante, by the way. He listens intently and he knows how to keep a secret. And he can’t laugh at me—although there have been moments when a cocked ear or a whicker or a shake of his head have made me wonder. Maybe he does laugh at me, sometimes.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I’m not really interested in the past. Can I go to the future, instead? I’d love to see what it’s like to be an intelligent woman a hundred years from now. Will women in 1990 be able to pursue their interests without their mothers being scandalized? Will women reporters be taken seriously? Will they be able to write about “real news”? Will fathers be proud of their daughters—even if they don’t follow a traditional path?