Interview with Suzanne December
With a last name like December, why did you name your daughters Mae and July?
I named them Maeve Malone and Julia Grace, but when my older daughter couldn’t pronounce her sister Maeve’s name she called her Mae, and it stuck. We started calling Julia “July” after that.
Are you employed outside the home?
Yes, I’m a journalist. I write a column for the local Rosedale paper called “Suzanne About Town,” and while many of my columns are about small-town happenings, some of them are more serious. My husband, Don, prefers my pleasant “happy-endings” work. I always cover local weddings, for instance.
What is your husband’s reaction when you write more serious columns?
He is not amused. For instance, in my most recent column, just before my daughter Mae’s wedding to local Sheriff Ben Bradley, I wrote about the previous Sheriff in Rose County, Trey Cantrell. Four years ago, Trey was “encouraged” to resign after a sexual scandal, something which always puzzled me. Trey was divorced at the time and the woman was a single adult. I wondered what was really behind him relinquishing the job, but put my suspicions aside as everyone in town seemed to like our new sheriff, and nobody seemed interested in looking into Trey Cantrell.
What caused you to return your attention to the former sheriff?
Sheriff Cantrell left Rosedale after his resignation, but a few years later came back to the area. Now married to the woman he had an affair with, he started building a million dollar mansion. Several of his former cronies who had left the state also returned. My curiosity was aroused. As a somewhat sneaky way of getting more information about Cantrell, I interviewed his ex-wife, Helen. I figured if anyone knew the dirt about a man, it would be his ex-wife.
What did you learn from the former spouse?
She was quite tight-lipped, although she did tell me one important thing. She had come from a wealthy family and expected to be required to pay her ex-husband alimony. Although Trey had always been driven by the almighty dollar, he declined alimony. I wondered where the money came from to build his new mansion. A few days later I went back to thank Mrs. Cantrell for the interview and saw her throwing papers away. I went back that night and raided their trash. I found a notebook that later proved to be critical in providing evidence against Sheriff Cantrell.
Have you found that women are generally accepted in journalism?
It’s expected that a woman will write the social column for a small town paper. But once I went beyond writing columns about weddings, pets and gardening and started delving into crime, I ran into a wall of male opposition, both from my own husband and Sheriff Bradley’s father too. It was infuriating and I suspected it was driven both by my being female and my being “height challenged.” I am only five feet tall. I often have to wear stilettos so as to look taller.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
I would, but I’m married and love my husband. My position in the “wars between the sexes” is pretty much restricted to keeping my husband in line, noticing gender discrimination and trying to encourage other women to assert themselves. This would be a lot easier if I were only taller!
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