The Passed Note Issue 6 February 2018 - Page 12

confronting the reality that marriage and childrearing are basically society’s expectation for all girls. It wasn’t like young women could pursue a Plan B or a Plan C—not without incurring society’s wrath. The masquerade (a plot twist I planned from the beginning) allows Harriet to expand her opportunities. In some ways, her pioneering is twofold: she ventures into unclaimed territory and also explores and challenges her place in society, particularly as it pertains to gender roles and societal expectations.

SRJ: Rachel’s character has a difficult arc. Did you know when starting the novel that assault was an issue you would tackle?

MRO: Pretty quickly, I think. I wanted to paint a realistic picture of the limited options available to girls in the early 1800s and the challenges they faced because of their restricted status. Situations like Rachel’s starkly reveal why changes—in laws, mores, perceptions—were desperately needed.

SRJ: What’s next on your list? Short story? Check. Novel? Check. Maybe a book of poems next? Or a sequel to The Beloved Wild wherein we get to see more of Rachel and Phin?

MRO: Eventually, I’d love to put together a collection of short stories or even short-shorts. And pursuing Rachel and Phin’s story sounds fun, too. I’m also curious about Harriet’s inquisitive, sharp sister Betsy. Given the time period, right on the brink of the War of 1812, Betsy could get into some interesting trouble. Uncovering a military secret? Overhearing an assassination plot? I’d really like to see Betsy put her devious mind to good work! Currently, however, I’m writing a fantasy series. It’s about a fictional land in crisis, six scattered young people in grave danger, and a binding spell that goes awry.