Archive | Austen blogs RSS feed for this section

Jane Austen’s birthday: Bringing changes to VJA in 2012

16 Dec

Happy birthday, Jane!

There are dozens of blogs and websites celebrating Jane today, which is a powerful thing. Think about all of the topics, guest posts, and online games occurring because of her and her impact. This and events from the past few weeks have helped me to re-think what this site should be in 2012.

The spinoff author interviews were relatively popular on VJA, but most importantly, they’re not what I want to host on here.  I may do one every now and then, but they won’t be the main focus any longer. I’ve really enjoyed them, and I hope you have, too.

But now it’s time to try something new and bring the conversation back!

I started thinking about what I like most about Jane and her world, and it’s her books. I like reading them, and I like highlighting the portions relevant to me at the time. It amazes me how new aspects jump out each time I read them.

For me, it’s all about her books. To be honest, I don’t like many spinoffs, and I don’t care to watch many of the movies. They’re excellent, and I highly support and appreciate the creative minds who make them happen, but I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Jane. Her own words speak to me the most.

So what does that have to do with VJA and 2012?

I’m embarking on an adventure to read all of her novels again next year — shooting for one novel every two months. On VJA, I’ll regularly post comments and invite discussion. I realize that plenty of blogs host book discussions throughout the year, but I want to see if we can take it a bit further on VJA.

Rather than being just a blog about what’s going on in the world of Jane Austen today, VJA will reflect my own ideas in an attempt to uncover life’s truths in her novels. Instead of a hobby that I regularly update (but sometimes neglect), I’m really going to create a goal to post here on schedule and invite you to help me achieve it along the way. As I explore this aspect of Jane’s world with more excitement and passion, you’ll be able to tell. It’ll make for a much better read.

So here’s to you, Jane. A bit different than the post you’ll find on other blogs today, but I think that’s what I’m aiming for. My gift to her is the simple appreciation of her works and how much they continue to impact our lives. I plan to delve into them and investigate the characters, situations, and words we have grown to love.

Want to celebrate her in this way as well? Join me! I’ll create another post soon with a tentative schedule, discussion topics, and other ideas. Do you have any recommendations for me? Which book should I read first? Is there a particular topic I should emphasize throughout the year? Do you want to be one of my regulars?


Interview with C. Allyn Pierson, author of Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister

2 Dec
I hope your December is starting out well! I have a fun feature for today. Carey Allyn Pierson agreed to do an interview about her book, Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister. You can find her on her own website, her blog, and the Austen Authors site.

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

C Allyn PiersonC. Allyn Pierson: I read a book that retold Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view. It was the first fan fiction I read and I selected it because of it’s good reviews, and I enjoyed reading it, but there were a couple of parts of the storyline that I didn’t agree with. I found myself saying “No! That’s not how it happened. That character would never do that.” Eventually, I realized that I had a specific vision of what “really” happened after the original ended. My eldest son had just gone off to college and I had a bit more time, so I started writing. I did not tell anyone, not even my husband, what I was doing because I did not know how far this would take me.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your books, especially a story about Darcy’s little sister?

Mr. Darcy's Little SisterCarey: I actually wrote my original book as a continuation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s story after their marriage, but Georgiana was a big part of that since she is living with them and she is preparing to make her debut. As the editing process went on, her story became more and more important. When I sold the book to Sourcebooks it was on the condition that I rewrite it as Georgiana’s story and from her point of view. I liked the idea that I could rewrite the book using the things I had learned from self-publishing and make it the book it should have been.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Carey: I was interested in Elizabeth and Darcy and how they adjusted to marriage, but Georgiana was very interesting- intelligent, talented, but desperately shy and malleable enough for Wickham to convince her to elope, even though she knew it was terribly wrong. She is at a critical point in her development when P&P takes place, and I thought it was interesting finding out what influences her to become she person she is as an adult.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Carey: Jane Austen is the only author of the pre-Victorian era that writes about real people and how they interact. She doesn’t put in melodrama or Gothic details for excitement. Because of this she is very readable even today.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Carey: I am a physician, as is my husband. I work part-time since I was doing the primary parenting in our family, and that included raising a son with autism. So, basically, the answer to that question is that my husband’s eye surgery supports me and allows me to do whatever I want with my time. And no, I am not willing to share him!

Thanks, Carey!

Newest addition: Vicariously Jane Austen store! (dedicated to Cinta Garcia de la Rosa)

1 Dec

I am beside myself with joy. The day just gets better and better.

Earlier in the day, I saw a cute photo that one of my closest Austenite friends (Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, Austenite78 on Twitter) posted on Facebook of new Austen pajamas that she ordered. They say “Mrs. Darcy,” which is the best idea.

That, in turn, sparked me to start my own VJA store. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile but didn’t know if anyone would buy from it. Then I realized I was looking for Jane Austen items for my roommate for Christmas and thought, “Well, duh.” I decided to create the store and add items once I got home from work.

After I drove home, I decided to check the mail, and what do I find but wonderful presents from Cinta!! She told me that she was playing Santa, but I figured it would be a Christmas card, not two super nice journals and a Jane Austen Christmas card!

Jane Austen Christmas card

Jane Austen Christmas card

Inside, she wrote some very nice notes, too. I stared at both in amazement for about five minutes while sitting on my couch and marveled at the bond that Jane can create — across the ocean!

Jane Austen journal

A Jane Austen journal!

inside Jane Austen journal

inside the Jane Austen journal


Did I mention that this was my first overseas package? So special!

stamps from Cinta

I felt so inspired that I cooked dinner and sat down to my computer to start my shop on CafePress. I looked at all 1,93o Jane Austen items on CafePress and various other Jane Austen gift shops to make sure I was thinking up some unique and funny products.

Then I wrote (in one of my new journals) almost 50 ideas that I have for Jane Austen items. I created a few for now, but expect to see many, many more in coming days! Feel free to suggest some ideas if you have any, and maybe CafePress will allow me to do discounts for Christmas. I just started it, so I’m still figuring it all out, but I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Thanks for all of the support, and I hope you enjoy!

Interview with Raquel Sallaberry Briao, author of the Jane Austen em Portugues site

25 Nov

Austen fans,

Today I’m interviewing Raquel Sallaberry Brião, who runs the Jane Austen in Portuguese blog. She lives in São Paulo, Brazil. She is retired but continues to work at home with her handmade journals and bijous/crafts, most of them inspired by Jane Austen heroines.

Her virtual shop: Antiguinha

Her blogs: Jane Austen em Português and Lendo Jane Austen

Her Biblioteca Jane Austen is on standby to switch platform next year.

Carolyn Crist: Why did you start your web site?

Raquel SallaberryRaquel Sallaberry Brião: One day, in 2008, I was looking for some text in Portuguese about Jane Austen and I found nothing relevant. So I thought: if the Jane Austen Brazilian domain (.br) were available I could write about Jane. The domain was available and I started writing and searching slowly until I realized that there were more people interested in the same subject than I could imagine.

From then on I have started to write more often and there is a rare day that I do not write a line at least.


Carolyn: What do you like about Jane Austen?

Raquel: I like a lot of things in Jane Austen’s works. But what I like most is her caustic, and yet elegant, humor. I love Mr. Darcy because my good opinion too, once lost, is lost forever and Mr. Collins is the absolute owner of my good humor. I fell in love with Henry Crawford. It is beyond my control! I’m fascinated by the frankness of Persuasion’s narrative, one example is poor Dick Musgrove. Well, I could write a book about being so fond of Jane Austen!


Carolyn: How do you come up with original and new content for your web site?

Raquel: There is vast content about Jane Austen in English and I try not to translate everything because it would be impossible, but I try to tell to Brazilian readers what is going on about Jane in the English world. And the most important part is I read the novels, watch the movies and then I write about them giving my opinions and my doubts, sharing them with my readers, who in turn suggest other matters.


Carolyn: How do you bring people to your website?

Raquel: I write every day and, when it is appropriate, I add my opinion on the the subjects, most of them are from English that I translate small bits of the text. I always reply to my readers’ comments. I am very proud of my regular readers, they are smart and good humoured in their comments.

I do almost nothing in addition to publicize on Twitter and Facebook. I think the Mountain View’s people like me and always find my Jane’s Blog!


Carolyn: Do a lot of fans like to read about Jane Austen in Portuguese?

Raquel: Yes, a lot of people from Brazil and from Portugal, too. I have observed that many of them first know the movies – at least the new generation. Soon, after seeing the movies, they look for more information and then they discover the books and how wonderful they are!

Thanks for sharing, Raquel! Your work is an inspiration.

Interview with Juliette Sobanet, author of Chocolate for Writers and Sleeping with Paris

16 Nov


I have a sweet interview for you. Juliette Sobanet, who runs the Chocolate for Writers blog, agreed to answer a few questions about writing, chocolate, Paris and blogs. Read on!

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

Juliette SobanetJuliette Sobanet: I’ve always had the writing bug, but it was during my time living in France that I decided to begin writing novels. I spent a year in Paris completing my master’s degree in French, and at the end of my program, I blocked off a month to complete my thesis. Every day, I wrote for five to six hours in my pajamas, showered (yes, in that order), then went out in Paris with friends. I completely fell in love with that very unrealistic lifestyle, and thus the writing seed was planted! I thought, “I can spend my days in my pajamas writing about topics I love!” It was then that I formed the basic concept for my first novel, Sleeping with Paris. So, when I returned to the States, I read loads of romantic women’s fiction as well as books on how to write, then I dug
right in. Haven’t looked back since.
Carolyn: What ideas led to Chocolate for Writers and Sleeping with Paris?

Sleeping with ParisJuliette: Much like Charlotte Summers, the main character in Sleeping with Paris, I spent a semester studying abroad in Lyon during undergrad, as well as a year in Paris doing graduate work. During my time in France, I accumulated all sorts of fun, exciting, and sometimes bizarre experiences that I knew I’d want to write about one day. And since I was dating my now- husband during my time in Lyon, then married to him during my time in Paris, I had to rely on my friends to provide me with ideas for some of the outrageous dating situations that I wrote about in my novel. And of course, I did go out with my girlfriends in France and witness some
of that ridiculousness first hand. The best part of all was bringing those stories to life on the page (and changing names and details of course:)

For my blog, Chocolate for Writers, I initially started with the idea of making it a writing blog with tips, advice, and motivation for other writers. And since I love chocolate, I figured why not give writers a weekly dose of inspiration and un peu de chocolat? Then when my new release was set to come out, I changed the focus of my blog a bit to introduce my main character, Charlotte, and her crazy dating adventures in the City of Love (and one of her men actually feeds her chocolate in bed—so I was still keeping with my chocolate theme:) Since the book has come out, I’ve been blogging more about France and inviting others to share some of their favorite France stories, which has been so much fun and has really increased my readership.


Carolyn: What sparked you to start your websites, and what keeps you going?

Juliette: I knew that as a soon-to-be published writer, I needed to set up a nice website as a way to interact with my readers. So, back in February, I created the bare bones of my blog, then when I was preparing for my book release, I made the blog into more of a complete website with descriptions of all three of my Paris books, links, and a bio. I’ve had such a positive experience sharing my writing adventures and my love of France with my blog readers, so that is really what keeps me going. Plus it’s an amazing way to reach new readers and introduce them to my book. But, it is difficult to keep it all up! Between work, writing, and blogging, sometimes I feel like my head is going to spin off!


Carolyn: How do you continue to find intriguing content to post on your sites?

Juliette: Lately, I’ve been coming up with topics based upon the reader feedback I receive. Once I asked my readers to comment on why they love Paris, or to tell me about their perfect day in France, I received such beautiful stories that I’ve decided to continue on this France theme for a while. Also, I’ve done two book giveaways in honor of my new release, and that always attracts reader


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

Juliette: I love an honest, funny, silly heroine who messes up and who (eventually) learns from her mistakes. I love characters that aren’t afraid to go out on a limb and take a risk, who make crazy decisions for love, and who make me laugh at the end of a long day. And I love a sexy, mysterious hero who makes me wish I could jump into the pages of the book and spend the day (or the night!) with him.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Juliette: I am a French professor at a local college, and while that pays some of the bills, I’m also blessed to be married to my wonderful husband, who is much more practical than I’ll ever be. I always joke with him that if I were the one doing the budget and supporting the two of us, we’d be living in a shack under a bridge. Okay, I’m not that irresponsible, but teaching French and
writing don’t exactly make you a millionaire. (Maybe one day – I can dream right?) I’m also training to become a yoga instructor, and I’m hoping to combine teaching French, writing, and yoga into a full-time work situation.

Thanks, Juliette! I can’t wait to read more on your blog and hear your next steps!

Interview and giveaway: Sharon Lathan, author of Miss Darcy Falls in Love

15 Nov


A treat to get you through the week! I am lucky to be on Sharon Lathan’s blog tour of Miss Darcy Falls in Love. She was able to slot me into her busy schedule, and voila! This is a wonderful interview.

She was also kind enough to include a copy of the book for a giveaway! Leave a comment below about the idea of Miss Darcy falling in love. The deadline for comments is Nov. 21, and I will announce the winner the next day!

Miss Darcy Falls in LoveSynopsis of Miss Darcy Falls in Love:

Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but Georgiana Darcy is an accomplished musician who hungers to pursue her talents. She embarks upon a tour of Europe, ending in Paris where two very different men will ignite her heart in entirely different ways and begin a bitter rivalry to win her. But only one holds the key to her happiness.

Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart.





Sharon’s bio:

Sharon LathanSharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her previously published novels are: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, A Darcy Christmas, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is Georgiana’s tale of love and adventure while in France, complete with a happy ending. In addition to her writing, Sharon works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California, in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Visit Sharon on her website: and on Austen Authors, her group blog with 20 novelists of Austen literature:


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

Sharon Lathan: Originally it was all about my belief that there were readers out in the world who wanted to continue living with Darcy and Lizzy as I did. That is why I began writing in the first place: My love for these characters and this story, and my desire to stay with them. Posting online was deeply satisfying and encouraging. Those who read my saga loved it, so I reasoned that there must be others who would as well if they could only discover me! Having a novel published, whether via a self-publishing format or with a house, was the best way to reach a wider audience.

Over time I have grown to love writing and the career of a novelist for a host of reasons. It is very difficult at times, but the creativity and connection with readers is marvelous.


Carolyn: What sparked the idea for Miss Darcy Falls in Love?

Sharon:  All through my Darcy Saga series I wrote story lines for the various secondary characters. Mary Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Anne de Bourgh – they each found love and experienced adventures as subplots to the main plot with Darcy and Lizzy. In truth, I could have expanded on many of their stories and written novels for them. Initially I anticipated weaving Georgiana’s love story into the series just like the others. Miss Darcy, however, had a different idea! Her desires inspired me, and when I met the man she was destined to be with, it instantly became clear that this was a tale worth a whole novel.

This small excerpt gives a hint of how I matured my Georgiana Darcy, the feelings I infused within her, and a glimpse of the man who may be the one to unlock what she has buried deep inside:

“The question hung on the air, Sebastian finally tossing the mutilated twig over the edge and turning to look at Georgiana, his gray eyes hard as slate and his voice firm. “I may not know my entire future, Miss Darcy, but I do know that someday I will be Lord Essenton, with an estate I love as my responsibility. I will have a wife and children. I will serve in the House of Lords. And I will play and compose music. I cannot separate and deny portions of who I am and all that is central to my happiness,” he finished with a shake of his head.

They stared at each other for a long stretch. Sebastian’s countenance was as serious as she had ever seen. Gone was the amused twinkle that perpetually lit his gray eyes and the characteristic lilt to his full lips. Suddenly he appeared years older than three and twenty, intense and sure. It was as if he strained to communicate nonverbally to her, sensing that she would understand his heart. And the oddity was that she did, at least to an extent. As a woman with a set future before her, indulging in pointless whimsies, no matter how passionately felt, was easily tempered.

Or were they?

For years her dreams had been invaded with desires for more. Denial became second nature, knowing that for her, those dreams could never be realized. Mr. Butler, however, was a man, thus having no reason to reject his passions or accept inevitabilities.

She nodded, holding his gaze. “I do understand, Mr. Butler. Perfectly. I applaud your persistence. Perhaps it is my naïveté and optimism, but I think your father will eventually understand and be as proud of you as the others in your family.”

“Perhaps,” he agreed. “Someday.” Then he smiled, the jovial Mr. Butler she was beginning to know well snapping back into place. “Now, we should return to the others before they send out the hounds.”

“Or eat all the food.”



Carolyn: How did you first decide to write Austenesque novels, and what keeps you going? (You’re quite prolific!)

Sharon: Thank you! It all began for me when I saw the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
I fell in love with the movie and then all things Austen. Yet it primarily was the fascination with Darcy and Lizzy that drove me to begin writing. I could not let them go. Now I am at the stage in my career where I simply love creating stories and characters. I adore the Darcys and other Austen characters, but I have also grown very addicted to imagining new people and places. I see no reason why I need to limit myself to the world of Austen. However, I also see no reason to leave the world behind. These characters are now mine, I love them, and I envision living with them for a long while to come.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Sharon: I haven’t given up the profession I knew was my destiny when I was nine years old. Writing came to me recently, but being a registered nurse has been my life for over 27 years. I work in a neonatal ICU taking care of ill babies and can’t imagine giving it up. Fortunately I can work part time, adding that income to my royalties and husband’s paycheck. We aren’t rich but we survive! And I can continue to write.


Carolyn: And what are your next steps? (I’m sure enjoying a honeymoon should be one! Any other books starting to form in your mind?)

Sharon: As you intimated, we had a wedding in our family just over a week ago. My daughter
has returned from her honeymoon and the bits and pieces of transitioning are being taken care of. I, of course, am helping her AND attending to a blog tour! Yep, I think I need to laze in a tropical locale for a week. That, however, is not on the agenda. Instead I will be focusing on my next novel which is under contract for a 2013 release. This time I am shining the spotlight on Dr. George Darcy, a character of my creating introduced in Loving Mr. Darcy. He is a remarkable man, if I say so myself! Dwelling in India for over 30 years, George has a lifetime of loves and adventures to share. I am so excited to be granted the opportunity to tell his tale. It is going to be fantastic!

Thank you, Carolyn, for giving me an opportunity to speak with your readers about my newest release. I will check in as often as possible to answer any additional questions anyone has. Good luck with the giveaway!

Sharon, you are fabulous! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I can’t wait to hear what everyone says in the comments below.

Interview with Alexandra Potter, author of Me and Mr. Darcy

11 Nov
Alexandra Potter

Alexandra Potter

I’m quite excited to host Alexandra Potter today as a Friday treat!

Alexandra Potter is an award-winning author of eight bestselling romantic comedies, including Me and Mr. Darcy, for which she won the Jane Austen New Fiction award in 2007. Her latest book, The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather is published by Plume. She has lived in London, Sydney, Los Angeles and New York and is currently traveling the world researching her new book. Visit Alexandra at her website Alexandra Potter.

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

Alexandra Potter: I’ve always loved writing. As a child I had a vivid imagination and used to spend hours making up stories. Reading was a huge passion of mine and I ended up reading English Litertature at university. At that time my dream was to write for magazines and I moved to London to pursue my career. However the path never runs smooth! A redundancy from my ‘dream job’ saw me moving to Australia for a year where I became a sub-editor on magazines, which then led to me one day editing an article on several young authors who’d written their first novels. As I sat there in the office, reading this article, I thought to myself, ‘I can do that!’ and so I went away, thought of an idea, and started to write what would end up being my very first novel, ‘What’s New, Pussycat?


Carolyn: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, especially Me and Mr. Darcy?


Me and Mr. Darcy

Me and Mr. Darcy

Alexandra: I love writing romantic comedies and exploring relationships between men and women. One day I was thinking about how women are always searching for ‘The Perfect Man’, their very own Mr Darcy who will sweep them off their feet, but how in reality it’s not always like that! That’s when the idea came to me. How about I write a book where the heroine gets to actually date Mr Darcy! I thought I could have a lot of fun with this idea, and it would allow me to explore the difference between reality and fantasy. It was never supposed to be a serious retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which is a criticism that has been made levelled at me by some Jane Austen fans. On the contrary, I would never be so arrogant to think I could re-tell such a wonderful story, I simply wanted to write a fun romantic comedy that would allow readers to ‘date’ Mr Darcy, and see what it would be really like! By doing this, I think I showed that actually, it might not be so much fun in real life, and actually the guy who’s real – who isn’t so perfect – is actually the right guy for you.

Buy it on Amazon – Me and Mr. Darcy: A Novel


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Alexandra: I am fascinated by all different kinds of characters. As a writer you are constantly observing people. ‘People Watching’ is one of my favourite pastimes! Everyone has their own story. Everyone is important in their own life. That’s why I think it’s very important to give every character in my books – however minor – their own journey.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Alexandra: She is the QUEEN of people watching! Her observations are wonderful!! Despite her writing in another era, her stories are as relevant today, which is incredible really when you think about it. So much has changed in the world since Jane Austen wrote her novels, and yet ultimately, people and their hopes and dreams haven’t really changed at all.



Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Alexandra: When I started writing my first novel, I was freelancing as a sub-editor. I did this until I had secured an agent, who told me to go away and write the rest of the book. As I needed to devote all my time to writing, I stopped freelancing and sold my car, which gave me just enough money to live on and pay my bills for six months. Which gave me my deadline! Six months to write my book! At the end of which I was very lucky. Several publishers wanted to buy it and a bidding war broke out, and within 24 hours I’d signed a two book deal and secured an advance to write the next one….



Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

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

Alexandra: I wanted to write a follow-up to Me and Mr Darcy and see what had happened to the characters of Emily and Spike since we last left them. Plus I wanted to have some more fun with Mr Darcy, I’ve missed him! Hopefully readers will find the story fun and romantic. This time I have Mr Darcy as an advisor in love to Emily and he ultimately helps bring Emily and Spike back together again. Mr Darcy a matchmaker, who would have thought? 🙂

Buy it on Amazon – Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart

Thanks so much, Alexandra! I can’t wait to hear more about the next book.

Wicked author Gregory Maguire doesn’t ‘get’ Austen appreciation

10 Nov

Entertainment Weekly ( Shelf Life featured an interview with  Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and his newest novel, Out of Oz.

EW asked Maguire about several books and authors, and he mentions The Diamond in the Window, Maurice Sendak, Proust, and War and Peace. It’s worth the read. I’ve always enjoyed Maguire’s work, but this one caught me off guard:

Stephen Lee: What’s a classic or much-hyped book that you’ve never quite understood the merits of?

Gregory Maguire: That’s an easy one to answer. I don’t get everybody’s devotion to Jane Austen. I think Jane Austen makes great movies [laughs]. For a long time, I would have answered Pride and Prejudice as the book that I said I’d read but hadn’t, but I finally read it about a year ago, and I think Pride and Prejudice has some very funny parts, but to me, it’s about three times too long — and look who’s talking, somebody who writes 500-page novels! The humor in it is funny, but the situations seem to me very repetitive and run into one another, yet almost all the critics I know think that the great writers who I really do admire from the 19th and 20th century descended from Jane Austen — and we must all bow to her and kiss the hem of her garment — but I’ve never gotten it. I think I’m missing the Jane Austen molecule or something.

Wait. Hold up. Really? Vic Sanborn thought the same yesterday on Janeites on the James. I understand that some people don’t understand Austen quite the way we Austenites do, but this really intrigues me.

I’ve tried digging into his comment, and it makes me wonder if people truly read her novels with a modern mindset. How can you not read her work while thinking about life at that time and simply what it meant for her to write and publish novels like these?

Interview with Laurel Ann Nattress, author/editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It (plus a giveaway!)

7 Nov

Hello, hello Austenites,

Today I’m very excited to host Laurel Ann Nattress, author/editor of and editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories!

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann created to be a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs and, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and
on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.


Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by
Nov. 11, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story
anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on Nov. 12. Shipment to U.S.
and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!


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

Laurel Ann Nattress: I had been writing about Jane Austen and the many movies and books that she has inspired for about three years on my blog Austenprose. I really enjoyed working with
the authors to help promote their new books. I began to see a common thread between
my passion for Jane Austen and all of the books influenced by her. I thought that it would
be interesting to read an Austen anthology, but at that time there were none in print. I
realized that I had the connections with the authors to put one together. I mulled this in
my mind for a bit. Of course the biggest challenge would be finding a publisher.

Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Laurel Ann: While some readers admire Austen romantic heroes and heroines, I revel in her secondary characters who are a bit wobbly in the moral department. I am fascinated by Mary and
Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park, Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice and Frank Churchill in Emma. Austen does such a fantastic job with characterizations. She truly is a master at the details of personality types and motivations.

Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Laurel Ann: Her insights into human personalities. She is renowned for her finely drawn characters and engaging dialogue. They just captivate me.

Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Laurel Ann: Personally, I know very few writers who support themselves entirely by their writing. In fact, looking at the authors in my anthology as an example, many are married, and only a
few make it on their own just by their writing. One assumes that you would have to enter the bestselling realm to procure enough “pewter” to live comfortably.

I think you can equate this to being an actor. There are many who are called to the profession, and struggle for years to become recognized for their talent. Some do become rich and famous, and others make a comfortable living.

Among the exciting and rewarding things about being a writer is that you can do it in your free time. Who does not want to write the great American novel? It is all a process. Personally, I am a professional bookseller. The two feed into to each other quite nicely. I am will always be puttering with a new book. It is just in my nature to be creative.

Carolyn: And of course, tell us a bit about Jane Austen Made Me Do It!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Laurel Ann: My anthology contains twenty-two short stories written by my personal favorite Austenesque authors or other genres that great admire Jane Austen. They range in experience from bestselling literary veteran to debut new voice. They are my dream team and I am delighted with the stories.

There is something for every reading preference. From Regency to contemporary, comical to fantastical, they all reaffirm Austen’s indelible mark on literature and lasting influence on culture and entertainment. It has been interesting to read people’s impressions of the stories. Just like Austen’s effect on her readers, everyone seems to be touched by one character or story in a different way. That is a great complement to the writers, and to Austen.

Thanks again Carolyn for hosting me at Vicariously Jane Austen. I have been having a
great time on my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new
Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It and am very honored to be here

Thanks, Laurel Ann!

Everyone, here’s the book info: Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966

Interview with Brenna Aubrey, winner of Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest, author of the Broken Oaths saga

2 Nov
Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Today I’m happy to host Brenna Aubrey, winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest!

Brenna’s favorite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion.  She also loves to write historical romance and epic fantasy fiction.

Visit Brenna at her website Brenna Aubrey, on Twitter as @BrennaAubrey, and on Facebook as Brenna Aubrey.


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

Brenna Aubrey: I’ve always written for my own amusement. It was my favorite way of blowing off steam. I had people inside my head who would hold entire conversations and sometimes drive me to the point of distraction. But there’s this thing that happens when you write — when you get “in the flow” and the scene is unfolding in your mind while your fingers are typing as fast as they can. It is an amazing feeling of opening up. Being creative is difficult. It all comes from inside. But it is a path so worth pursuing.

Only recently did it occur to me that others might be interested in reading my stories. I would pass things along to my husband and friends and get good responses from them. Many of them told me I should get it published. That always made me laugh a bit because in my mind, “getting published” was something akin to building your own rocket ship out of spare parts and flying it to the moon. The entire process intimidated me and I felt that pursing publishing would be like trying to win the lotto.

I’ve educated myself, now. First, I joined RWA (Romance Writers of America), even though I wasn’t writing romance at the time. It is an amazing and supportive organization of intelligent and successful women who are very talented as well as business savvy. I cannot recommend it enough. Secondly, I got a couple of crit partners who are at the same level of writing as I am (and one who is already a very successful published author) who were honest about what my stories needed and how to improve my writing.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your books, specifically the Broken Oaths Saga?

Brenna: Hmm, well it’s hard to remember where the root of my ideas come from. Mostly it’s from allowing myself to daydream. I ask lots of “What if?” questions and “Why?” questions. I almost always start with the character. I build my entire story around an intriguing character whom I flesh out as I go. I mull things over a lot while washing dishes or folding laundry. I doodle and brainstorm in my notebooks. My brain never shuts up, as a matter of fact, and it can get annoying. Most writers have this problem, though it likely manifests in different ways. We are, by nature, ruminators. We hypothesize people and situations and play out
those scenarios in our heads long before the words ever hit the paper.

My Broken Oaths saga, the fantasy novels that are now retired to the trunk, started with the main character, Synna. In dreaming up her background and her story, I asked a lot of why and what if questions. For example, I knew she was a hoyden (tomboy) so I dreamed up why that would be. She came from a large family of all brothers, of course. And et cetera, so on down the line. It’s a chain reaction that you allow to continue in your brain.


Carolyn: What types of characters do you enjoy reading and writing about?

Brenna: I love strong characters — determined, moral, intriguing, compassionate. Those with intelligence and insight. Some of my favorites are Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennet form Pride and Prejudice, and Margaret Hale from North and South. I do like male characters, too, but the strong women always captivate me.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Brenna: Well! Where do I begin? Her writing is amazing. So gifted and insightful. Her wit is incomparable. She was a genius and there’s not that much more to it. She was truly exceptional at her craft. Her stories are timeless and her observations piquant. She saw things clearly and expressed them in a way that speaks to most readers. That her novels are still treasured after two centuries
demonstrates that.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Brenna: Fortunately, I do not have to support myself with my writing. I still consider myself in the “hobby” phase. I do have a day job and so writing is my creative release valve. It helps keep me sane. I won’t pretend that I don’t want to be a full-time writer someday. It’s certainly my dream job. Until then, though, the day job stays. I do have a very supportive husband who watches the kids many hours during the week while I write in our spare time. And even on weekends! Without his support, I could not do it.


Carolyn: Tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Congrats on winning the short story contest!

Brenna: Thank you. I’m still pinching myself about winning. There were so many interesting and wonderful stories entered into the contest. I’m truly fortunate to have been included in the anthology.

My story is based upon Captain Wentworth’s love letter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion. In fact, it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I asked myself what I would base the story on. I also knew that my story would be contemporary because I don’t feel my skills are up to imitating Jane Austen’s style and voice. And I doubted I could do justice to her characters.

The genesis of an idea began to form when I decided to write the story from a man’s point of view. We all know that many Janeites are women. But I wanted to explore how Austen’s stories could appeal to a man and teach him something about himself that he didn’t know before. Thus, adding Wentworth’s love letter — in my opinion the most beautiful declaration of love in English literature — with a modern young man who was still bitter after losing the only woman he’s ever loved, I began to draw the parallels.

In the story, I include passages from Persuasion because I could not keep my hands off of Austen’s hauntingly beautiful prose. I wanted my story to express the modern reader’s relationship to Jane Austen’s work. I also pay tribute to Miss Austen in some way. I hope I succeeded in that.

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for the interview and the insightful questions. I really look forward to looking around your community. I think it is a marvelous idea!!!

Thank you so much, Brenna! We look forward to talking with you more and seeing more Austen works from you.

Buy the book!
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart