BackStory: Five Questions with Gina Headden
Author of Stones Heavy in Their Pockets
What inspired you to write ‘Stones Heavy in Their Pockets’?
Many suffragettes were ‘ordinary’ women who risked everything for their cause.
I’ve often wondered what it must have felt like to be one of them, to take radical action for something you believe in, to know you might be imprisoned and force-fed, never mind vilified and disowned by those closest to you.
In writing this piece, I wanted to feel something of the fear the suffragettes felt, to imagine their conflicting emotions in moments of excitement and of crisis and to convey those things to the reader.
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
Lots of research! I wanted to ground this piece strongly in reality. Once the basic story was in place, I added carefully selected details from newspapers, images and articles. Until then I hadn’t been fully aware of the degree of police and other brutality inflicted on the suffragettes.
I also learned that catapults and toffee hammers, not just stones, were used in the window-breaking incidents and that men too suffered for their active support of the suffragette cause.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
I love editing and revision, working on a story so that the language and structure best convey what I’m trying to say. Blank pages can be both challenging and exciting so getting the initial story ‘out there’ can be daunting. At the editing stage, there’s already something to work with and that feels much less threatening. In truth though, on a good day, I love it all — even when I’m struggling!
What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
Like Beatrice, I am a political activist. As a WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) woman, I have demonstrated at Westminster and elsewhere, standing up to the injustice perpetrated against a generation of women and taking action to try to have that situation rectified. I’m not sure I could have taken things as far as Beatrice does in ‘Stones Heavy in Their Pockets’ but perhaps, had I been alive then, I might have done.
What do you like most about writing flash?
I’m constantly surprised by how much can be conveyed in a flash fiction story — the depth of emotion, the action and the resonance. Flash is also an excellent diversion from working on a novel: I can write a story in a matter of minutes rather than it taking me years!
Gina’s writing has been published on audio platforms and in fiction and non-fiction magazines, including, amongst others, Longleaf Review, Ellipsis Zine, Sunday Herald Magazine, The Casket of Fictional Delights, Funny Pearls and National Flash Fiction Day’s Flash Flood. Gina lives in Scotland and tweets @gmdfreelance.
Photograph by Andy Kreyche.