A Tyranny of Petticoats Blog Tour and Giveaway

I have a particular fascination with historical fiction, a love of short story anthologies, and an unapologetic feminist perspective, so when I heard about Candlewick Press‘s new anthology A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls edited by Jessica SpotswoodI literally cheered.

When they asked me to be part of the blog tour that just so happened to kick off on the first day of Women’s History Month, I jumped at the chance.


Click on the book cover to add this to your Goodreads TBR!


Also available as an e-book and in audio

Crisscross America, on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains, from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own courses. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own ways in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.


Our authors are as diverse as their characters. To give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, we asked three questions of each contributor:
1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
Here are their answers.

Marissa Meyer

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?

A number of years ago, my husband and I were on a road trip to visit friends in Minnesota and decided to take a detour through the Badlands of South Dakota. We’d both heard of Deadwood but weren’t very familiar with its history, so I didn’t know what to expect. Driving down into the gulch, though, I instantly fell in love with it. There’s so much history there! When we got home, we marathoned the HBO Deadwood series, and I became more and more fascinated by the people who had flocked to such a lawless town in search of riches. I was excited to research more about them when I was invited to join this anthology, and the more I read, the more interested I became.


What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?

There were so many seedy characters in Deadwood during the gold rush, but I became most fascinated with Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem Theater. In the HBO series, Swearengen was portrayed as . . . well, not a good guy, but someone who had at least a little integrity beneath his rough exterior. But the real Swearengen, it turns out, was horrifically ruthless and cruel — even going so far as to take out newspaper ads in small towns that advertised respectable jobs for women, only to force the women into prostitution when they showed up in Deadwood and couldn’t afford the train ticket back. Sadly, his lack of morality paid off. It’s estimated that at the height of the Gem’s success, Swearengen was making $35,000 a week, while the average miner made only $24! The piece of me that believes in karma was horrified to read that.


Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

I have to go with Cleopatra, a woman and ruler who has captivated us for millennia, spurring countless books, plays, poems, and documentaries. I particularly love that we have this common perception of her being a great beauty, but historians say she wasn’t really all that beautiful after all. Rather, it was her wit, charm, and intelligence that men of her time found so beguiling. Just as it should be!


Saundra Mitchell

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?

The place was supereasy — I wrote about my home state. I thought that would be fun, and it was. I got to use a lot of local trivia and details that I haven’t gotten to use in fiction before. As for the time period, I had several ideas when I started and settled on this one because I realized I wanted to write about a bank robber during the Depression. I didn’t find out until after the anthology was all put together that I managed to pick exactly the same year as another author!


What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?

There was no one thing that stuck out to me — but! This is one of those stories where, as a writer, I got to really marvel at how near and how far history really is from the moment I’m in. Take one kid from Indiana in 1934 and realize: her grandparents experienced the world of the American Civil War. In turn, those grandparents were the children of the Revolutionary War.

These events aren’t distant, isolated moments in time. When Americans fought the Revolutionary War, much of the thinking of the time was that Colonists were enslaved to Britain and deserved to be free. The Colonists won that war, and they raised children who then had to grapple with the fact that they had created a government in which people were enslaved and deserved to be free.

So come back to our kid in 1934: She becomes the parent of someone who marches in Birmingham in the 1960s for the Civil Rights Movement. She becomes the grandparent of someone who fights for equal rights in the 1980s. She becomes the great-grandparent of someone today who’s joined the protest because #blacklivesmatter.

Who we are today isn’t just the time period in which we live; we’re the living memory of time recently, and not so recently, past.


Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

This is absolutely impossible to answer — there are too many amazing women that we know about, and so many whose names and achievements were lost or obscured. But I will say that Olga of Kiev is one of my all-time favorite hardcore battle queens. She slaughtered two armies sent to force her to marry a neighboring prince, then razed an entire town by tying embers to doves’ legs and setting the birds free to fly home. Ninth-century Russian queens don’t play.


Beth Revis

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?

I grew up on Westerns, mostly thanks to my father and his love of Louis L’Amour. As a child, I knew the stories of Butch Cassidy and Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp as well as I knew Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I once spent an entire summer telling my brother, “I’ll be your huckleberry,” even though I had no idea what it really meant.

One thing that I particularly loved about the Western stories is that the West was the great equalizer. Much of the rest of the world during this time wasn’t particularly fair to women or minorities, but in many cases, the only thing that mattered in the Wild West was your skill. Yes, there was still prejudice and hatred, and certainly life wasn’t fair, but about one-fourth of the cowboys were black, the gold rush brought a sweep of immigration from across the world, and enterprising women could make a name for themselves on the frontier. Racism and sexism was still very much present: Jim Crow laws were at their height, lynching affected not just African Americans but also the new Mexican and Chinese immigrants, and the opportunities women had were limited. But the Wild West held possibility, much more so than many other parts of the world.

A shining example of that to me is Annie Oakley. She was a crack shot and revered not because she was “good for a woman” but because she was good — full stop. She was the best of the best, and it didn’t matter that she was a woman — she was still the best.


What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?

We take education for granted. To us, it’s standard that our children have the right to attend a clean, well-maintained school that is staffed with qualified, educated teachers who focus on one subject or grade level, and each child is provided with the basics they need to achieve their education, from textbooks to food. We don’t question this — it’s a fact of life.

But it really wasn’t that long ago when that was not the standard, particularly in the Wild West. The Western frontier wasn’t friendly to anyone, especially children. Most children in the remote areas were homeschooled, which meant any education they received they got at home, but that didn’t mean a formal education with tests and papers. For most, it meant learning the basics to get by in life.

As settlements became towns, schools started cropping up. But they still weren’t like the schools of today. The buildings were sparse, often assembled by the community or a church, and supplies were extremely limited. It wasn’t uncommon for the only book in the schoolhouse to be a Bible.


Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

The first person I think of is Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled an empire in a man’s world and did it better than any of the men before (or after) her. But I also love Murasaki Shikibu, the first novelist in the world, an elegant Japanese lady who revolutionized literature. I have always thought Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther, was fascinating; without her, I wonder if the religious and political landscape after the Reformation would have held as strong. And Audrey Hepburn was so much more than an actress; she helped the Allies as a child during World War II and then helped the children of war through her charity and work with UNICEF. Harriet Tubman is perhaps the greatest American hero in all of history, defying certain death to oppose great injustice.

But I think perhaps my favorite woman in history is Anonymous. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” And so my favorite woman in history is all of the women who toiled in anonymity. Despite the odds stacked against them, despite the fact they never achieved fame, much less recognition, despite all that, they quietly got it done. And that is truly admirable.

About the Contributors

Marissa Meyer

MARISSA MEYER is the New York Times best­ selling author of the Lunar Chronicles, a series of classic fairy­ tale retellings set in the distant future (a long, long time after the Black Hills gold rush).

SAUNDRA MITCHELL is a great lover of history. She enjoys manipulating it in fiction like The Vespertine and celebrating it in nonfiction like her new series, They Did What?! She lives in Indiana and thinks more people should write stories set there.

BETH REVIS  is the New York Times best­selling author of the Across the Universe trilogy, as well as The Body Electric and several forthcoming YA books. She credits her father with fostering her knowledge and love of the Wild West and thanks him for fact­ checking this story.

a tyranny of petticoats blog tour banner

Date Blog Address
March 1 Nerdy Book Club https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/
March 2 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust http://www.foodiebibliophile.com/
March 3 Charting By the Stars https://chartingbythestars.wordpress.com/
March 4 Unleashing Readers http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
March 7 Teach Mentor Texts http://www.teachmentortexts.com/
March 8 YA Love http://yaloveblog.com/

One thought on “A Tyranny of Petticoats Blog Tour and Giveaway

  1. Pingback: TYRANNY Tomorrow! – Jessica Spotswood

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