Farmington author digs into political figure Elizabeth Warren
FARMINGTON — No stranger to writing about strong women in the political sphere, author Antonia Felix set her sights on the persistent, progressive figure Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In the biography, "Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life," Felix follows the liberal progressive lawmaker through her Oklahoma youth, journey through higher education, her four law teaching jobs from the University of Houston to Harvard Law School, her 2011 Senate campaign and subsequent Congress tenure.
Felix originally penned the book proposal in 2012, not long after Warren had won her first election to the Senate, but didn't get the green light to write it until last year.
"It was an exciting project for me, because I've been writing about women in power for many years," Felix said. "So to have this opportunity to write about one of the most popular, populist politicians in the country ... to write about someone of her stature, especially at this moment in history, was an incredible process, and was enlightening for me."
Though she didn't get to work with Warren herself during the process, Felix conducted over 30 interviews with individuals from Warren's professional and personal background.
Felix said she's never interviewed the subject of her books because she creates independent biographies, but Warren was aware the book was underway.
The book was released in August, and since then Felix has been making book tour stops everywhere from St. Paul to Washington, D.C. to Warren's hometown of Norman, Okla.
"That's always the fun part, getting to travel and talk to readers ... knowing your work is in people's hands," Felix said.
She moved back to Minnesota with her husband in 2011, settling in rural Farmington.
"It has been a dream come true to have the solitude," she said. "I can do the kind of work I do."
While living in Farmington, she's written her biographies and a one-act play about opera singer Maria Callas that opened in Minneapolis.
Insight through biography
Felix has been writing biographies for political and prominent individuals for many years now, including Condoleezza Rice and Sonia Sotomayor.
Though those also included the added obstacles of racial discrimination and intersectional issues, she said they all — including Warren — "have taught me about the distinct roadblocks women face."
Felix wrote "Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story" over 15 years ago, and noticed in her research across the subjects that not much has changed.
"That kind of gender discrimination ... hasn't changed that much," she said. "The system really is patriarcal ... that hasn't changed."
The biggest change, she said, is that she's now writing in the #MeToo era, the anger and the volatility has increased. Her latest subject because a lightning rod for action after Warren famously refused to stop voicing opposition during debate over the appointment of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with her refusal culminating in the now-ubiquitous feminist rallying cry "nevertheless, she persisted."
But, Felix said, her research showed that there may be a silver lining after all.
She looked critically at her work before releasing it, knowing she may face some criticism that there was not much critique of Warren in the biography.
Felix said this is not because her book is a "love letter," or written solely in admiration of Warren, but because "if she looks really positive, it's because she's lived a positive life."
"I think that should be celebrated now more than ever ... someone who's ethical and commendable for readers," Felix said.