Archive | October, 2011

Interview with Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

31 Oct

We’re honored to host Amanda Grange as a Halloween treat today!

Jane Austen Award nominee Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England. She spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had more than 20 books published including six Jane Austen retellings and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire. Visit Amanda at her website Amanda Grange, on Twitter as @HRomanceUK, and on Facebook as Amanda Grange.

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Amanda Grange: I’d always loved writing, ever since I was a little girl, and as I grew older it became an ambition of mine to have a book published. I didn’t always finish my books when I wrote for myself, and I thought that aiming for publication would encourage me to finish a book, and to write the best book I possibly could.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, especially Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and Mr. Darcy’s Diary?

Amanda: My first Austen book was Mr Darcy’s Diary. I remember it very clearly, even though I wrote it about eight years ago. I was reading Pride and Prejudice again, and it occurred to me that it was a very modern book in many ways. It had a lot of short chapters, a lot of dialogue – both things that editors love today. But in one way it was very different to novels published today, because it didn’t have any sections written from the hero’s point of view. I started writing some of the scenes from Mr Darcy’s point of view and couldn’t stop, so that’s how I ended up writing Mr Darcy’s Diary (the UK hardback and the audio download are both called Darcy’s Diary, by the way).

With Mr Darcy, Vampyre I wanted to write a book in the tradition of the Gothic novels that Jane Austen read, books like The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs Radcliffe. I’d had the idea of making Mr Darcy a vampyre for some years, ever since watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because something about the Buffy/Angel dynamic reminded me of the Lizzy/Darcy dynamic. So when I had the idea of writing something in the great Gothic tradition, the two ideas merged and led to Mr Darcy, Vampyre.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Amanda: I like characters who are strongly drawn and who are true to themselves, like Lizzy Bennet. I like them to grow and develop throughout a book, and so I liked seeing Lizzy learn that she had been wrong to ridicule Mr Darcy and believe ill of him with very little reason. That’s also why I love Mr Darcy, because he changes. He’s proud and arrogant to begin with, but in the end he realises that Lizzy was right to reject him the first time round and confesses: “By you I was properly humbled.” I think it took a lot of courage for him to face his faults and change, and his ability to do that makes me really admire him.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Amanda: I’m fascinated by the way she writes such different novels, even though they are all about the same subject matter. Pride and Prejudice is light, bright and sparkling whilst Persuasion is elegiac and Mansfield Park is more serious in tone. Northanger Abbey is a spoof of the Gothic novels popular at the time, Sense and Sensibility is dramatic and Emma confines itself entirely to one neighbourhood. So within six novels there is an enormous range.


Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Amanda: I had a day job, which is essential for most writers as it can take years to get published and then many more years to get established. I wrote in the evenings and at weekends, and sometimes in the early mornings as well. It’s a lot harder than most people think to get published, and to stay published. I admire anyone who wants to achieve that ambition, but I think it’s necessary to be realistic. Publication doesn’t necessarily mean earning a living, so it’s important to have a reliable source of income as well.


Carolyn: Tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It!

Amanda: It’s about Mr and Mrs Bennet’s courtship. The story starts on Lizzy and Darcy’s wedding day, which reminds Mr Bennet of his own wedding day and the events leading up to it. I’ve often wondered why Mr Bennet married the silly Mrs Bennet, and so this story sets out to explain how it came about. There’s a lot of humour in it and we get to meet Mr Collins’s parents, as well as Mr Collins as a baby!

I also have another book coming out at the end of October, the UK paperback of Colonel Brandon’s Diary. I love this book. Colonel Brandon is such a romantic figure, and he has a tragic back story. A lot happened to him before he met Marianne, and Colonel Brandon’s Diary shows his life before and after he met her. It’s available from bookshops in the UK or from Amazon.

Thank you, Amanda! We admire how much you’ve achieved as an author, and we’d love to hear more tips when you have a chance!


Jane Austen fantasy, week 1: Emma vs. Elizabeth

30 Oct


Welcome to the first week of Jane Austen fantasy! Everyone should have named their five characters for the week on yesterday’s post. The first scenario is below. You get points for whoever you played and whoever I put in the scene. When you post your response to the scenario, you can use anyone in the scene, even if you didn’t play them from your team. Does that make sense?

You have all week to pose your response. By next Saturday, when you post your next five players, I’ll pick the winning scene and tally the points for the week. On Sunday, I’ll post the second scenario.

Remember that if you post a scene, there must be a “winner,” and this week it’s Emma vs. Elizabeth. Here’s the point system to keep in mind and then the scenario below.

The scoring system:

5 points per character that you play each week that I use in the scene

10 points if you respond to the weekly scene

15 points if a character you played “wins” in the weekly scene

20 points if I pick your response for the weekly scene


Mr. Bingley is hosting another ball, and Mr. Tilney is the featured guest. Emma and Elizabeth eye him across the room and are determined to say hello. The others in the room: Lydia Bennet, Catherine Morland, Elinor Dashwood, and Col. Brandon. Mr. Darcy may not be used in this scene 🙂

That’s the brief scenario. I’m using this week as a test to decide how many details I should include. It’s up to you to determine what relationship exists between Emma and Elizabeth, Bingley and Tilney and others.

If you want to give feedback as well, feel free! I’m certainly as new to this as you are, and I always welcome suggestions to make this better and fun for everyone.

Let the games begin!


Talk like Jane Austen Day is today!

30 Oct

Check out all of the Talk like Jane Austen Day events.

I’m not sure how I will incorporate it into my day, but I will try!

I think my roommate is planning to talk to her boyfriend like Jane Austen all day while they drive back from vacation, which should be pretty funny. I wonder if she can keep it up for 5 hours.

Are you doing anything today to celebrate?

What’s your biggest dream? (May not be Austen-related)

29 Oct


It’s a Saturday, and I’m feeling dreamy. I often set my sights high on the weekend and begin to think about all of the lovely things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. Especially since I changed jobs a few months ago, I’m more adventurous than ever. You don’t realize what it takes to quit a job until you do it.

This post is unrelated to Austen topics, but I want to get to know you as a person, not just a Janeite. However, one of my goals is to write an Austenesque novel, so I can slip that one in and still safely put this post on this site 😀

Post your dreams below, and let’s have fun. Who knows, maybe we can trade dreams and learn from each other! Many of my dreams are skills-related (such as learn how to surf), so perhaps we can begin making connections in other parts of our lives and grow that relationship as well.


Here’s a short list, in no particular order:

1. Find a Mr. Darcy of my own

2. Write a few books, at least one which is Austenesque

3. Learn how to surf

4. Learn how to play the drums

5. Find a way to freelance/become an entrepreneur

6. Become a better craft-creator

7. Learn several languages decently, especially Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, German

8. Learn some bartending skills (or at least create a few signature cocktails)

9. Travel the world

10. Develop a couple of successful blogs, especially Vicariously Jane Austen


From Twitter:


SalonJaneAusten Oct 29, 7:06am via Echofon

@VicariouslyJane Travel, be awesome with the loved ones XD…be creative and all related to that!


ih8tweet Oct 29, 10:07am via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@VicariouslyJane One of my biggest dreams is to write a full-length novel.


Nancy_Kelley Oct 29, 9:12pm via HootSuite

@VicariouslyJane Publishing my first book–due out within the next 3 weeks. Then, I will move to England.


Do any of your dreams match up with mine? Share them below!



First Austen fantasy week: Pick your players

29 Oct

Alright Austenites,

It’s time to put your team in.

On Sunday, I’ll post the first scenario, and we’ll get the games rolling.

Today, I need everyone to post the team members who will play. Pick 5 of your 10 and post them below. That way, when I put up the first scene on Sunday, you can’t cheat and put in the ones that will earn you points 😀

I hope the word gets out quickly, so here we go! When I publish the scenes, I’ll also include the point system as a reminder. You’re playing for a leather-bound copy of Austen’s works, which I will buy and ship during the week of Christmas!

See you again Sunday. I’m quite excited.

— Carolyn

Also – We have 14 teams! That’s pretty exciting. If you haven’t joined yet but are reading this post and want to join, you still have time! Post your team below.


Update: I forgot to put any instructions about leading lady/supporting lady, etc. If you’d like to repost your players, you can do that, but if not, that’s fine. The main idea is that I will choose a  variety of characters for the scene, so may get more points if you post a variety of characters, but we’ll see how it goes! I’m making this up as I go along, too.

Always let me know if you have any questions, and I’m looking forward to it!

Which Austen character would you go out with?

28 Oct

A Friday Twitter question: Which Austen character would you like to go out with this weekend? (It doesn’t have to be a date.)

I’m in the mood for fun today. With fall break here at the university (students take today off, but I’m here working), a big football weekend for our school (Florida vs. Georgia) and Halloween on Monday, everyone is ready to play.

Who would you have fun with this weekend? I think I’m going with Emma for now. I’m in the mood to put on a cute dress, run around with a girl friend and make eyes at cuties. Ha ha!


An amazing variety of answers on Twitter today! Check them out:


ModernMrsDarcy 10:15am via Web

@VicariouslyJane Emma. I’m ready for a girls’ weekend and I think she’d be a delightful companion!


grannyuser 10:18am via Twitter for iPad

@VicariouslyJane I’d like to spend some time with Captain Wentworth.


darbydashwood 10:26am via TweetDeck

@VicariouslyJane Henry Tilney and/or Catherine Morland. The perfect companions to celebrate Halloween with!


CraftyAustenite 11:31am via Web

@VicariouslyJane Henry Tilney


LuAwwnn 12:25pm via Mobile Web

@VicariouslyJane with Jane! I really need a friend whos calm and nice


cbeddes 2:07pm via Twitter for iPhone

@VicariouslyJane A girl’s night out with Elinor Dashwood! We’ll have dinner and go to a late showing of Anonymous. 🙂


ana_iris 4:23pm via Snaptu

@VicariouslyJane Henry Tilney. But it *has* to be a date 😉


AlysaAKim 9:54pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane I’d feel uncomfortable refraining myself from ripping Darcy’s clothes off so I’d have tea at Pemberly with Lizzy instead.



Interview with Maya Slater, author of The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy

28 Oct

Happy Friday, Janeites!

Today’s interview is with Maya Slater, author of The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, which is known as Mr. Darcy’s Diary in the UK.

Check out Maya’s website and enjoy the interview!

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Maya Slater: I’ve been a voracious reader since I was five, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was perhaps 12 years old and obsessed by Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Jane Austen came a little later). However, for my ‘day job’, I was an academic, lecturing in French Literature at London University. Of course I wrote academic books and articles, publishing several books on, and translations of, great French writers (see my website, Meanwhile, in private, I was writing fiction, too, but I didn’t try to publish anything, which was perhaps foolish, but find I can’t write seriously unless I’m able to dedicate myself to it completely – impossible when you’re trying to be a wife and mother as well (I was married to a doctor and bringing up two daughters).

Gradually the urge to write fiction grew irresistible – my girls had grown up and left home, so I took early retirement and got started.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, especially Mr. Darcy’s Diary?

Maya: It happened by accident. It was summertime, we were on holiday, sitting round a table by candlelight when someone said, ‘What would be the book you’d most like to read, if it had been written?’ I immediately replied, ‘Mr. Darcy’s Diary’. Everybody laughed, and I thought nothing more of it. But somehow the idea sat at the back of my mind and wouldn’t let me alone, till I decided to try it. Incidentally, the title in the US is The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy. This book and my story for Jane Austen Made Me Do It are the only Austen works I’ve written.


Carolyn: What types of characters do you like the most?

Maya: Difficult one – in Jane Austen I love feisty, witty characters like Elizabeth Bennet, the Crawfords or Mrs Croft, but I do also find myself drawn to more reserved, private characters who keep their emotions secret, but feel them all the more deeply in consequence. I’m thinking of Anne Elliot, Fanny Price or Jane Fairfax. The trouble with such characters is that they are difficult to write – I’ve tried, and they come out
repressed, neurotic and not good to read about.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Maya: First, how did she do it? I’ve been to her house at Chawton, and seen the tiny round table she wrote at in the parlour, where she must have been continually disturbed and interrupted. Secondly, how did she achieve her amazing ear for dialogue, so sparkling and fresh? I find myself lingering over every speech, by Miss Bingley, or Isabella Thorpe, or Mrs Norris, wishing I could begin to emulate her. She must have been amazingly sharp as a person. Wouldn’t one love to meet her?


Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Maya: I don’t live off my writing, but regard my earnings as a bonus. It’s incredibly difficult to write for a living, and you tend to have to choose a genre and then stick at it. I feel lucky in that I can write what I want to, and can spend as long as I need polishing it up – at the moment I’m working on a novel set during the Second World War.


Carolyn: And, of course, tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Maya: My story is ‘Letters to Lydia’. The letter-writer is Lydia Bennet’s young friend Maria Lucas. During my careful reading of Pride and Prejudice for my novel, I had become fascinated by the idea that the love affair of Elizabeth and Darcy was conducted against a background of friends, relations, servants. Maria is present during Elizabeth’s stay at Hunsford, where Darcy first proposes to her and is turned down. It seemed to me only too likely that an inquisitive teenager with nothing much to occupy her would try to find out what was going on. Maria was also nearby during the episode of Lydia’s elopement. Jane Austen depicts her as naïve and silly, but she remains a very minor character in Pride and Prejudice, so I had a free hand to turn
her into a wrong-headed, muddled teenager with an obsession with romance. I really enjoyed building up her character, and retelling the events with a new twist.

Thank you, Maya! I can’t wait to read “Letters to Lydia.”

Thursday grab-bag: How to start a Jane Austen book club, also Austen and technology

27 Oct

I’ve always wanted to start my own Jane Austen book club, but I never put much thought into actually doing it. Last year, I challenged my roommate to reading all of Austen’s books, with one book each month for the next few months. I hung several sheets of paper on the wall, and we decided to graph and analyze the heros and heroines in her books.

After I sped through Northanger, slowed on Pride and Prejudice and stopped in the middle of Sense and Sensibility, she was often busy doing homework for class, and we never got it together. I’ll have to show you guys some pictures of the pieces of paper, though 🙂

Anyway, I found this fun post the other day about “How to start a Jane Austen book club,” which has some nifty tips about how to host the club and pull in members. I didn’t even think about requesting dues. Definitely check it out.

In other news, I’ve really been enjoying Vic Sanborn’s Jane Austen Today blog, especially the posts about technology. You should check out her blog to read more, so here’s a teaser or two so you can see what they were about:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the book) now has apps and book trailers. Check it out on Vic’s blog.

Book Drum also has illustrated profiles of Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. See Vic’s blog and check out the Book Drum profiles:

VJA still growing! And encouragement from friends …

26 Oct

I wanted to write a quick post to thank everyone for the growing support! The site consistently draws 100 people each day, and yesterday we had a record 150. That’s incredible when you think about the small amount of time the Vicariously Jane Austen site has actually been live. For half of that time, it didn’t look very good, and I’m still working on the widgets and features.

So, thank you, everyone. Sincerely.

I also wanted to spotlight this fantastic post from Twitter today. It’s amazing how one person and one message can brighten your day. Remember how I was down earlier? I was feeling conflicted about my job, my future and how I’m handling this website.

Now it feels completely worth it:

JaneAustenLIVES 7:06pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane I absolutely love your Austen tweets and website Carolyn #TrueJaneite


I’m amazed to have, as she said, #TrueJaneite friends like you! If I had the money, I would jump on a plane and write blog posts about Janeites around the world. Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s the dream for now. Until I have the money to make it happen, I excited to get to know you better on the blog, Twitter and other sites.

Would you say you have more sense or sensibility?

26 Oct

It’s a Whiny Wednesday kind of day, so I’m whining about how I’m not feeling like myself today.

Someone else is making me feel down, but I believe I can make myself feel better. I firmly believe that we can often change our mood depending on our outlook. At this point, however, I’m not sure how to respond to the situation. Should I be more like Elinor or Marianne in this situation?

I think we have a little bit of both in us, but which way do you tend to lean? Do you have more sense or sensibility? How do you define those terms?

Also, this is the place for whines on Wednesdays. Do you have a whine? Let us know below! Maybe we’ll have some advice if you want it.

(Additions from Twitter: 10 p.m. EST)

Austenite78 9:15am via Twitter for Mac

@VicariouslyJane I like to think that I have a balanced mix of both, but lately people are saying I am more sensitive than sensible, so…

IsaBookSoulmate 9:18am via Web

@VicariouslyJane I’m definitely more SENSE 🙂 Eleanor and I could totally hang out and just roll our eyes at people all day long, lol

oxymoronic82 9:22am via Mobile Web

@VicariouslyJane ooh, good question! I think I’m more sense but a strong inner-Marianne that bursts out on a regular basis!

RegencyErica 9:44am via Twitter for Android

“@VicariouslyJane: Would you say you have more sense or sensibility?” I’m the sensibility. @RegencyJenny is the sense.

Alwys_Smthgs 12:06pm via TweetDeck

@VicariouslyJane sense. Although for the record, I think JA’s book was sort of making the pt that we can’t have 1 exclusively. #janeausten

LevRaphael 6:20pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane I’m glad it wasn’t a question about pride or prejudice. 🙂

CAllynPierson 9:16pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane Definitely Sense- I’m not much into sensibility

RegencyErica 9:23pm via Web

@CAllynPierson @VicariouslyJane You and @RegencyJenny both then!

CAllynPierson 9:54pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane Yep, there is no question. I am definitely Elinor.

AlysaAKim 9:33pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane Sensibility I am afraid.


Incredible response on Twitter! Thank you everyone 😀