Jennifer Kincheloe is the author of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, a historical mystery set in 1900's Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD.
From her Q & A with Lori Rader-Day:
Lori: You based the heroine of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc on a real historical figure, a police matron. What was it about that woman and that role that spoke to you?Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.
Jen: LAPD matron Alice Stebbins Wells became the first female cop in LA in 1910. She inspired the book. Alice was a political genius—a kind of evangelist for women in police work internationally. She changed the world of criminal justice forever. However, when I wrote the character of Anna Blanc, Anna ended up being very different from Alice. Anna is more like “I Love Lucy.”
I’m impressed with women who do big, great things. They’ve had to ignore all society’s negative messages about women and trust themselves instead. That takes great clarity and courage. I wish all women could trust themselves and their own strengths and brilliance the way Alice Stebbins Wells did. This is something Anna is learning in the book.
Lori: Anna is at once innocent and brave, silly and smart, feminine and feminist. What process did you go through to create her? How do you balance historical reality and modern expectations for “strong female characters”?
Jen: Anna just came out. There was no strategy involved at all. I was a little worried that she didn’t fit the current mold of “feminist hero” because she’s silly, naive and vain—a product of 1907 sexism and her father’s wealth. But she’s also dauntless and she runs circles around the cops intellectually. I didn’t want her to be too strong or too good. I wanted her to be like an everyday woman who simply believes in herself and never gives up. There are so many examples of strong, brave, flawed women in the Progressive Era. People just don’t remember them because they are left out of the history books. Carrie Nation is a favorite. She was a Temperance crusader. Women weren’t allowed in saloons, but that didn’t stop Carrie from going in with an axe and...[read on]