Women Working Together

Stella Atrium Author Interview

The Bush Clinic follows a doctor who is forced to support a hospital where she encounters tribal women fighting for their and their children’s lives in a war that does not value them. Where did the idea for this novel come from and how did it develop over time?

Thanks for asking.  I was so pleased to find reviewers who call THE BUSH CLINIC femme-driven.  Ha, ha, that was my intent. In all societies, women live in a network of women, although that practice is not dramatized in our novels or movies. For female heroes as far back a Angie Dickinson”s Police Woman, women characters operate in a world of men.  Where were her sisters, aunts, daughters, sorority sisters, female colleagues who held strong positions like judges or reporters?

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Women working together is a novel idea in some writing genres.  Mostly we see a few forced together like in refugee camps, or the wives of men in leadership like in the church.

I started with the writing principle that the female characters drive the plots of my stories. Nothing happened except by their pushing. That’s in all my stories, but not so much LGBTQ+. I looked at women in combat zones and saw that they had no protection, no cover, no rights even to clean water. How did they manage to feed the children and stay clean?

Women were corralled together and could not resist abuse or separation.  My idea was that women talked among themselves and found strategies for how to respond to abuse and support each other, except some were ostracized.

In a free emerging democracy, women must secure the right to vote, the right to open a business, to own property, to choose when to have kids. Access to capital is critical for women to have a voice in business and in politics. Not a token woman on the board of a corporation, but a self-made woman who succeeds by the work of her own hands.

So I developed several of these types in a fantasy story set on another planet to see what obstacles they addressed, what bad behavior they indulged, and how much social power they could accrue. The fantasy series starts with THE BUSH CLINIC, and several novels follow our connected tribal women and intruders from Earth.

The male characters were not neglected. In fact, some get hero roles as militia leaders of generals in the peace-keeping corp. A woman is more interesting when an interesting man pursues her.

What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?

I feel that women compete and undercut each other. I feel that there’s a hunger among readers to see women who are generous in spirit and want the best for others, but that’s an ideal, isn’t it? Finding the oxygen for oneself is a daily struggle, so which woman has the energy to fight for the group? Unfortunately, altruism is learned behavior.

Just the same, women emulate some who they admire — either for looks or clothes or attracting men or the voice of outrage. The undercutting comes when a genuine position gained through effort is lost or not available. Women (and men) turn to other strategies. 

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The solutions I found for women in a combat zone were partly about how to handle the children for education and guiding them into different expectations.  The tension between Dr. Greensboro, an offworld doctor with the bush clinic, and her growing native assistant Brianna Miller rang true, I believe, for the limitations of how women help women.

What is the next book in the Tribal Wars series about, and when will it be available?

In THE BODY POLITIC Brianna Miller returns to Dolvia as a grown woman with experience and the access to capital to make a difference among the savannah tribes. Her voice in the militia is strong because she contributes connections with offworlders and ideas for managing the kids at risk.

The tribal women who the reader has gotten to know in the first novel each come to the public square in Cylay and partake in self-torching, a protest act against the oppression of Rabbenu Ely. We feel the lost because we know each of the women as individuals.

Brianna Miller takes on an assistant named Kelly Osborn who is my heart’s favorite in the series.  Kelly is a poet and trying to find her place, betrothed to a warrior who she fears, but still relating her love of the savannah and the people in her published poems. The differences between cynical Brianna Miller and emotional Kelly Osborn are stark and tell us more about women working together.

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A space colonization story about seeking independence and home rule in the face of corporate greed. Tribal women bind together in a war zone where they are discounted as not important enough to save or keep safe.

On Dolvia, Lt. Mike Shaw demands Dr. Greensboro’s doctoring skills at the hospital, forcing the closure of her bush clinic. She witnesses forced labor, forced migration, and the threat of an epidemic from bad water. She sees how tribal women–often wearing burkas–find solutions for saving the children in a conflict zone, and she commits to the their cause for Home Rule.

Brianna Miller is an isolated girl–a mixed-blood orphan–among the Dolviet tribes. With the lessons from Dr. Greensboro, the abuse from soldiers, the sisterhood among victims, Brianna prepares for a future she will choose for herself. But first she must travel offworld.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on October 29, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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