Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 1 & Giveaway!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Last summer, in preparation for the release of my short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I had the opportunity to interview all twenty-four authors who had contributed stories. I asked fifteen questions to a very diverse group of writers. Their responses were both amusing and surprising.

For your enjoyment I will be sharing a question every Friday over the next fifteen weeks and offering a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It each week. Just leave a comment answering the question at the bottom of the post. Good luck to all!

1.) How did Jane Austen make you do it? What inspired you to join this anthology?

  • How could I pass up the opportunity to drop in on some of my favorite people? – Pamela Aidan
  • The first thing that attracted me to the contest was the title of the anthology.  Jane Austen Made Me Do It.  That fabulous title left open many possibilities that my imagination ran quite wild with them.  The contest really was an amazing opportunity for an aspiring author.  So I sat down with my notebook and a pen and started brainstorming.  From the first, I knew that in my story, I would include a phrase from the title of the anthology.  From there, I worked backward, asking myself the questions.  What did Jane Austen make you do?  Why?  How?  And from there I built the story.  Quite literally, I wrote the last line first, and the first line of the story was almost the last thing I wrote. – Brenna Aubrey
  • Jane was eager to recount a lost episode in Lord Harold Trowbridge’s life, from 1805 Bath.  It was hardly book-length material, so a short story anthology was perfect. – Stephanie Barron
  • It was an opportunity to stretch myself creatively as a storyteller. Many people assume that short stories are easier to write than novels because they are, well, shorter—but that isn’t true. Like poetry, drama, essays, and novels, short fiction is its own literary form with its own demands and challenges. Also, unlike my mystery series, “The Chase” is straight historical fiction, the dramatization of real events that happened to a real person (Jane’s brother Frank), so I enjoyed the chance to tell a different kind of tale and explore new characters. – Carrie Bebris
  • I joined the anthology because I already had a story that fit it precisely – a Regency short story in which Jane herself plays a part. – Jo Beverley
  • My first experiments in unwisely trying to imitate Jane Austen’s style (er, it’s impossible) were as long ago as in 1984, when I won a contest writing as Miss Bates in the Jane Austen Society of North America journal Persuasions.  Since I’ve never grown tired of re-reading Jane Austen, minutely examining her style, methods and meaning, and heaven help me, imitating her, it seemed natural that either I must find my way into a fabulous anthology or be locked up for crimes against Jane! – Diana Birchall
  • In truth, Mitchell Waters, my completely darling agent (who, I understand, is somewhat the godfather of this book), made me do it – but only if we could convince my husband Frank too! – Diane Meier
  • Even though I don’t have an agent (darling or any sort), I didn’t seek persuading. Having lived in England for twenty-five years, when much of the country was hopping with Austen fever, I was delighted to respond to her. I’d been to Chawton, her home in Hampshire, and seen the door with the creaking hinge – which she didn’t want fixed because it warned her when anybody was approaching, and thus gave her time to hide what she was writing. And I’d made radio and television features about her, interviewing many authors and commentators about their passion for the woman whom Samuel Beckett (not the most ready admirer of other writers) called “the divine Jane.” Also, in the summer of 1978, I attended the Sotheby’s antiquarian books auction in London, where The Watsons, an unfinished novel five chapters long, was sold for a lot less than the $1.5m it fetched recently. – Frank Delaney
  • Without her wonderful writing, I wouldn’t be here. Naturally. Jane Austen made me do it because she was a sly thing, an expert at the skill of neither showing nor telling, but keeping us reading between the lines. Who could resist supplying those in-betweens, the things that weren’t written yet they hover around the pages (or the adaptations) like musical notes waiting to be transferred into words? Very few writers evoke that kind of feeling. A noted example for me is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with Wind. I remember when I first read Gone with the Wind, the last sentence by heroine Scarlett O’Hara provoked such a fit of frustration that I had to go back and re-read the whole thing, hoping to find some clue about what she meant to do next. Jane Austen provokes something similar — not frustration, precisely, but that need to probe, to search for something more. If you have a creative urge in you — as this anthology testifies — her writing acts as a prompt. For me it was as if she showed up one day and said: “Here are some charming people you should get to know,” then disappeared, leaving them with me. I had to get to know them better by writing about them. At the same time, she drew such breathing living characters that you would like to invite them to come home and take tea with you (well, maybe not all of them). How could you possibly allow two such delightful creatures as Darcy and Lizzy to simply stroll away into the sunset, never to be seen again? You really must discover what happens to them next. As for the anthology itself, I was delighted when Laurel Ann invited me to join in because I  knew she would make a wonderful editor, that she would pick wonderful stories, and that I’d be “in the company of clever, well-informed people” — such a group of talented fellow authors. What more could an author want? – Monica Fairview
  • I love all things Austen and so this anthology is my natural home. – Amanda Grange
  • I have long been an ardent admirer of Jane Austen’s novels, and after researching and writing The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (a labor of love, and a work of my heart), I was thrilled to have an opportunity to write from Jane’s point of view again—this time as a short story. – Syrie James
  • I was immensely flattered to be invited and in such august company although when I was first invited I had no idea what I’d be writing about. – Janet Mullany
  • Since I am the editor of this anthology, I will instead share my inspiration to create this collection. A life-long Austen fan, I had been reading and reviewing Austenesque novels for many years on my blog Austenprose.com. As a writer, I was fascinated not only by the authors work, but how Jane Austen inspired them to write it. I kept coming back to the thought of all these authors as a group; their incredible talent; their Austen connections to one another; – even though they all came from diverse writing backgrounds. I wanted to showcase them in some way. In 2008, the idea that an Austen-inspired short story collection could feature their talent and honor a great author fit my objective. But how could an unpublished Austen enthusiast who writes a blog about her favorite author make this happen? I had no idea; nor the hutzpah to pound the publishing payment; so it sat in my mind and simmered until one bright day in January 2009. Author Michael Thomas Ford’s agent Mitchell Waters emailed me to thank me for some publicity that I had recently done for his client. The door had been opened. I saw my chance and took it. He loved the idea and became the godfather of my anthology; finding a great deal with Random House – and here we are! – Laurel Ann Nattress
  • Jane Austen has been making me do it for ten years in one form or other, whether through painting or writing so when I was approached by the wonderful Laurel Ann Nattress to contribute a short story for this anthology I was thrilled because I knew there was a story I’d always wanted to write! Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen novel, and one I’ve not tackled before as an inspiration for my own work. I’ve always loved reading short stories, but not written many myself so this was a real challenge, but I’ve absolutely loved every second of writing my Persuasion inspired story, “Waiting.” Being part of such a wonderful group of authors is an absolute dream! – Jane Odiwe
  • Jane Austen inspires me because she does the very thing that I would like to do as a writer—to tell wonderful stories about fascinating characters in a timeless fashion. And she wraps it all up in a satisfying ending. I’m excited to be a small part of this anthology that boasts so many of my favorite writers. The diversity of stories are a tremendous testimony to the enduring power of Austen’s work. – Beth Pattillo
  • In 2006 I wrote the novel, Me and Mr Darcy, as I was really interested in exploring the idea of what it would be like to date Mr Darcy. When I heard about this anthology I was inspired to join as it sounded like a really fun idea, to have a book of short stories that celebrate Jane Austen and her characters… and it also give me the opportunity to spend some time with Mr Darcy again! – Alexandra Potter
  • As Jane Austen wrote to Cassandra, “I write only for fame, and without any view to pecuniary emolument.” J – Myretta Robens
  • Certainly, it was a compliment to be invited to contribute to the anthology but it was really was my daughter and co-author Caitlen’s schedule that was a determining factor. She was in the process of selling her novel (due out in 2012), so it came down to whether she would have the time to work on it. – Jane Rubino
  • We (Jane Rubino) were invited to join by Laurel Ann (our esteemed editor) and loved the idea of the anthology so much we jumped at the chance.  I’ve always loved reading anything inspired by Jane Austen (after all, the real Austen only gave us six novels), so being asked to participate was an honor.  And I’m glad it all worked out; at the time I’d just sold my first solo book, and was embarking on a huge revision, but the opportunity to join this anthology was too good to miss. – Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
  • In my novel, The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, I interpreted the events of Pride and Prejudice from the hero’s point of view. I realized then that every single one of the characters in Austen’s novel would have had his or her own personal ‘take’ on what happened. If only one could write about them all! So, when I was asked by the London branch of the Jane Austen Society to give a talk, I researched P & P to discover how the courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy would have struck an outsider. I chose a very minor character, Maria Lucas, precisely because she seemed to make no positive contribution to the events – and I discovered that she must have played a far bigger part than is credited to her. So for my contribution to this anthology, I had the perfect material to work on, and I knew exactly what I would like to do. I couldn’t wait to start! – Maya Slater
  • I was really pleased at the freedom the authors were given to select their setting and theme. Laurel Ann Nattress is the perfect person to edit this anthology, because she knows all of Austen’s novels very well, and she also knows the Austen fandom and the writers and who should be involved. It has resulted in a wonderful diversity of ideas and stories and authors. I’m really proud to be involved in this project. – Margaret C. Sullivan
  • It’s not every day that I’m asked to participate in a Jane Austen event, I found this one irresistible! – Adriana Trigiani
  • When Jane Austen says write, I say how much. She is the puppet master, and I am her willing slave. Apart from that, I am delighted to be in the company of so many fine storytellers and fellow Austen devotees. – Laurie Viera Rigler
  • Really, Laurel Ann Nattress made me do it.  When she emailed me to ask if I’d write a short story for a Jane Austen-inspired anthology, I said “yes” without a second thought.  After all, it was just a short story and I’d just finished writing a book with Jane Austen in it, and wasn’t Laurel the hugest sweetie to think of asking me, and, ooh, an email from my best friend after Laurel’s email!  And was that a sale at J. Crew? It wasn’t until at least an hour later that it hit me that, wait, I hadn’t written any piece of fiction under 100,000 words since, oh, circa 1999.  There are some cases where less is definitely not easier, and the short story is one of them.  It has its own distinct art and idioms. But it would be a good writing exercise, right? I was right in so much as a great deal of exercise went into this story.  In an attempt to avoid writing it, I vacuumed my apartment, reorganized my bookshelves, and—the ultimate last resort—even went to the gym until I could avoid the computer no longer. Thank you, Laurel Ann (and Jane) for making me do it! – Lauren Willig

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress by leaving a comment answering why Jane Austen made you do it? What has Austen inspired you to do? Deadline to qualify for the drawing is 11:59 pm, Wednesday, August 08, 2012. The Winner will be announced on Thursday, August 09, 2012. Shipment Internationally. Good luck!

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 (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

32 thoughts on “Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 1 & Giveaway!

  1. Jane Austen made me do it … not only read
    obsessively every word she ever wrote but
    appreciate all literature!

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    • Hi ladysusanpdx, which of Jane Austen’s stories or characters are your favorites? I am very fickle. Often it is what I am currently reading, though I have a soft spot for Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan Vernon in Lady Susan (just because she is so outrageous). Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I don’t need to enter since I have my own copy of JAMMDI, But…BUT, it is high time I pulled it out and did another savory re-read! If you haven’t read JAMMDI you are leading a deprived life. Thanks Laurel Ann, this is going to be a FUN series to follow!

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  3. What has Jane Austen made me do you ask…miss many hours of sleep over 2 decades as I’ve read and re-read her works, even though I already no the endings. And thanks to her I stumbled on this blog a couple of years ago,which opened the door to all of the Austen-inspired stories that I never knew existed and have in their turn caused more missed sleep. Can you tell I have a hard time putting down a good book?

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  4. Perhaps the question is what HASN’T Jane Austen made me do? Well, perhaps that’s rather dramatic, but… Miss Austen makes me read, because I just can’t get enough of her work. And because of my love of Austen’s work, I ended up concentrating on British women writers of the 18th and 19th century when I wrote my undergraduate, honors-level thesis. So she’s made me be more scholarly!

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  5. Jane Austen started me on classic English literature. It was P & P which was my first read when I was 13 years old – part of the coursework in school. It inculcated a love of reading which has never stopped.

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  6. this book has been on my TBR forever! This is a fabulous idea and just loved reading this post. Jane Austen … well she inspires me no end an ‘makes me’ watch and read everthing I can. Humour and perhaps the right attitude shine through for me. Thank you SO MUCH for making this international!

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  7. What has Jane Austen made me do? The answer has got to be find and read all I could that Jane Austen wrote. Plus I have now read some of the more modern work inspired by Jane Austen and I have got to read this fabulous blog.
    Memorably Jane Austen led me to have a red dye stained bath. I was reading a copy of Emma whilst I enjoyed a bath. This copy of Emma had a red leather binding and the book dipped in the bath water and the dye ran so I had to hastly get out of the bath, put the book to dry, clean the bath and have another bath. Then I could continue reading Emma.

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  8. I for one am glad that the Rubino Bradway schedule allowed. What Would Austen Do had me ROTFL. Another charming story was Mr. Bennet Meets His Match that tells how this odd couple paired up. I hope another anthology is in the offing!

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  9. I love how every character is interesting and unique in some way, adding to the social interactions and situations in every book by Jane Austen. I’m always curious about the lives they have beyond the pages. I write down my own imaginings, as well as ravenously read those proposed by other Austen fans. Jane Austen also made me start my own book club to explore these things more, as well as the darker infusions with her work.

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  10. Reading Jane Austen (which led me to JA fanfiction) has allowed me to connect with some really great people who share that love of her works, and has rekindled my love of history. Discussing Austen’s works in regard to context, customs, society, etc has made me want to learn more about the Regency period and add a lot of other historical fiction to my bookshelves. Jane Austen Made Me Read More!

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  11. In the dedication of Northland Cottage, I tell readers- [Jane Austen's] brilliant stories have taught us more about ourselves and what manner of women we ought to be. Her characters -Elinor, Elizabeth, Fanny and Anne- and their stories, have inspired me to want to be the best person I possibly can.

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  12. What has Austen inspired me to do? Well I start to get more interested in the Regency era I never considered before – how the people lived their every day life. I am very interested in cooking and more special in baking. I started to look for books about cooking and baking in that era. Now I have found 3 books (which was not so easy in Germany) and I really want to start to bake some receipts and post it in my blog.
    I am always happy about more tips and inspirations about the life in the Jane Austen era.
    Thanks for international shipment and I keep my fingers crossed that I have the pleasure to read the book.

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  13. There aren’t many things Jane Austen hasn’t made me do! She’s the reason I’ve started blogging, she influences where we go for days out (they’re usually Jane Austen related!) and has influenced what I’ve read for years with many late nights as I just can’t put her books, and Jane Austen tributes, down. She’s also made me hope that there’s a Mr Darcy out there for everyone :)

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  14. Jane Austen inspired me to follow in her footsteps by visiting Chawton, Bath, Winchester and some of the spots she knew in London.

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  15. For me I believe Jane has made me take pride in my feistiness. As well as being proud that I have never settled. When it comes to love you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you want and deserve.

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  16. What has Jane Austen Made Me Do? She has opened all kinds of doors to me! I have a chronic illness, well 2, actually, and shortly after being diagnosed with the first one, a friend came over to show me the Colin Firth :) version of Pride and Prejudice as something she thought I’d really enjoy watching since I had so little physical energy. Shockingly, I had never read any of her books. I was hooked and have been rereading her books for years and almost all of the sequels and related stories. It has caused me to gain an appreciation for English Women’s Literature and especially the time period. I read all kinds of non-fiction books and blogs related to her times. I’ve become one of those who recognizes faux pas in books and films because they didn’t do enough research. I don’t do it to criticize but because I just can’t get enough of it!

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  17. Jane Austen mad e me d it by gaining a love of reading . Ever since i saw P&P i gained an appreciation for the classics and my reading level soared

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  18. Oh, Jane Austen made me, and continues to make me do it. She didn’t necessarily make me love reading. I already had the love. However, she helped me to see the difference between books and literature, and literature is to be loved, sought after, and enjoyed, and usually takes more than one reading to gain a thorough knowledge of the story and characters. Jane Austen made me know this, made me look for this, and made me want more of it. Jane Austen made me do it.

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  19. Pingback: Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 2 & Giveaway! « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  20. In 1950 as a a sophomore in college I had finished reading all of Jane Austen’s novels. She immediately became my most favorite author and so was ecstatic to find in my college library “Pemberley Shades” by D. A. Bonavia-Hunt, published in 1949. It was the first Austen sequel that I would read and for me has in memory remained the best. I was delighted to learn recently that it is back in print and have ordered a copy. I hope I won’t be disappointed! “Jane Austen Made Me Do It” is, in my opinion, one of the better sequels. Many others have been absolutely awful and have been discarded as quickly as possible. I’ve wondered if there is a bibliography of all the sequels ever published with information about which are still in print. Does anyone know?

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    • There is a good list of these on the website pemberley.com.
      For older prequels and sequels,etc. there is a comprehensive academic bibliography published in England in 1997 by David
      Gilson, the authoritative bibliographer of all works by and about
      Jane Austen.

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      • Thank you so much for that great information. As a Janeite, I am a member of JASNA but don’t remember coming across anything in newsletters or other publications of lists relating to prequels and sequels. I will definitely look into both of the sources you mentioned.

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