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Cecilia Baader, Featured Author Interview for Audacious Women: An Anthology

HRM's Audacious Women: An Anthology is now released to readers and the public, and we are pleased to share some illuminating thoughts from our contributors about how they view "audacious women," their contributions to the anthology, and what they are working on now.

Today's featured author is Cecilia Baader, who wrote a fun new story for this anthology.

How do you personally define an "audacious woman" and what role do you feel audacious women play in the world? What role have they played for you personally? Tell us an anecdote, a brief fact, or a true story.

An audacious woman dares to show herself and refuse to let the world change who she is, even when it's difficult. Especially when it's difficult. I think of women like my Aunt Tess, who lost her son to suicide during a time when the Catholic Church was not in the habit of supporting families who'd experienced that terrible loss. She lost her son, and then when no local community existed to support her through her grief, she built it. And then she grew it so that if someone needed support, they would find it. If that's not audacious, I don't know what is.

What are your work's favorite themes when working with female characters/subjects?

This is a super interesting question -- I've never considered this before. I think I play with appearance v. reality quite a lot. I feel like it comes second nature to women. We have to disguise so much of ourselves for safety's sake. I mustn't be too brash, too bossy, too angry or I will lose my job, my husband, my freedom. So we play a part that society wants and expects and show our true selves to very few. Though I must say that this effect begins to reverse itself once we reach a certain age and learn to accept ourselves and dare others to see us for who we are. So I play with that idea a lot. The unmasking as a woman comes into her own.

Who is your favorite female character in art or literature and why?

It's funny; as I age, I find myself drawn  to novels written by women with female protagonists, so my list of beloved female characters is long. I think my answer must go back to one of my first loves: Mrs. Dalloway, who was so finely drawn by Virginia Woolf. I went through a Woolf obsession in my twenties, and I suppose I've never let that go. What I've always loved about Woolf's work, and Mrs. Dalloway is a prime example, is the focus on the interior monologue that we all have. And isn't that true for all of us? We're preparing for a party and meditating on all the mistakes we've ever made. All anyone can see from the outside looking in is a middle-aged woman buying flowers, but that's not what's going on at all. It knocked my socks off the first time I read it, because I'd never seen anyone do that. 

Can you speak to your piece in the anthology and what inspired it? 

Years ago, I helped my friend bury her husband, who was also my dear friend. I took the bones of that experience (which did include a trip on the subway with his ashes) and thought, what if there had been more to that story? What if things weren't so innocent? How audacious would it be to experience that same set of events but have a very different motivation? 

What are you working on right now that lights you up?  Who are you reading that does the same?

I'm working on an urban fantasy about menopause. My protagonist hits menopause and literally comes into her power. It's still very much in the taking-shape stage, but it says what I need to be saying about finding oneself right now.

I read a book recently called The Adventures of Amina al-Sarafi by S.A. Chakrabourty, and it transported me. I absolutely cannot undersell this novel, and it is the first of a series, so I'm going to have to read it the old-fashioned way and wait for the next installment to come out.

Cecilia Baader is a reader, writer, and a teacher, not necessarily in that order. She’s as Chicago as they come, and her words appear in Ink Pot and Outlook India. She is currently working on a novel.


To read work from this awesome contributor in the Audacious Women: An Anthology--and more exciting work that explores the complexity of women in life and literature, get your copy now! Every purchased copy keeps the lights on for small presses doing great things! Thanks for reading!

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