Created by Erin Hamilton.
As an avid reader I am always in awe of the authors whose books I have enjoyed. I know they all put an incredible amount of time, effort and research into their works, ensuring they are relevant, factual and interesting. Recently, I have had the honour of putting some questions to Iszi Lawrence, author of The Unstoppable Letty Pegg, which published this year by Bloomsbury. Her answers are superb and I cannot thank her enough for taking the time to respond.
Please share your story in a sentence.
Letty Pegg’s mother is a suffragette and her dad is a policeman… as the battle for the right to vote spills into her home, can she, using her newly acquired talents at jiu jitsu, find her true friends and save her family?
Your research into Suffragettes must have provided plenty of food for thought. Were there any surprising or shocking facts you learned?
The book is full of true events like Black Friday, The Battle of Downing Street, The Siege of Sidney Street and the 1911 Census. It is staggering how much civil unrest there was back then, not just suffrage protests but anarchists and gang violence. The book is set in 1910 before all men had the right to vote but women had so few rights even to their own children. One fact I found really shocking was that there were very few women’s public toilets. A subtle way that women were stopped from travelling. In order to be a suffragette you needed a strong bladder!
Would you have been a Suffragette had you been born in that period of time?
I hope I could have been that brave. It really was nasty and I’m not sure if I would have been as determined as the women who smashed windows, destroyed art, defaced books and set buildings and postboxes ablaze. I’d’ve probably been more of a suffragist, putting on plays, making exhibitions, holding swimathon fundraisers and going roller skating to avoid the census takers. The suffrage movement was huge and complex with all sorts of serious and silly parts to it.
Letty learns a lot about friendships throughout the story and though the time period is different, it resonates with children today- was that a conscious decision during writing?
Just because there weren’t many divorces doesn’t mean that homelife was easy for kids. Making friends was still hard. What I try to do when I write or talk about history is make it real for people now. What would you do, given the same situations? It makes History pop.
Are there other periods of history that interest you, and can you see a story developing in them for future books?
Yes! At this very moment I’m scrubbing up on my French to learn more about life in rural France pre-revolution. I’m not sure if there is a book there yet, but it is a fascinating time… The enlightenment doesn’t reach everyone at once and there are child-eating monsters around every corner…
The Jiu Jitsu element is amazing- do you study the sport?
I do! I have a dark blue belt (one away from a brown belt) and I train with The Jiu Jitsu Foundation which is an international organisation that trains in a very similar way to the Suffragettes. We learn locks and throws as well as how to fend off multiple attackers with weapons. There is no better way to make friends than narrowly avoiding the metal chains swinging at your head only to hit your assailant with the planet. I love it and only wish I’d started when I was a kid.
What are you currently reading?
As well as a lot of dry French academic stuff I’m re-reading The Name of The Rose Umberto Eco and only recently finished Jenny Eclair’s terrific family drama, Inheritance which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Unstoppable Letty Pegg is published by Bloomsbury and available to purchase from all good booksellers.
Opinions shared may not truly reflect those of the FCBG.