It’s Halloween today—the best day of the year to celebrate Gothic and paranormal fiction inspired by Jane Austen.
Just to put you into the spirit here is an illustration of FrankenDarcy by Bonnie Carasso, a talented graphic designer with a sense of humor. I met Bonnie in the Austenprose Facebook Group. This graphic is her cheeky interpretation of actor David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy in the 1990 BBC/PBS Pride and Prejudice mini-series mashedup as Frankenstein. The inside joke is that his interpretation of Austen’s romantic icon was a bit stiff!
Gothic fiction was a big hit in the late 1700’s. Authors like Horace Walpole’s, The Castle of Otranto (1764), Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Romance of the Forest (1791) influenced and inspired a young Jane Austen to write her own Gothic parody of the genre, Northanger Abbey, published after her death in 1817. If you have not had the opportunity to read it yet, it is hilarious. You don’t know what you’re missing!
Today there are many Austen-inspired paranormal novels featuring zombies, werewolves and vampires interlaced into her classic stories and characters. If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith , Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Simonsen or Georgiana and the Wolf by Marsha Altman you might be ready for a spunky version of Austen’s creepmouse heroine from Mansfield Park, Fanny Price, like you have never seen her before.
Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampires by Tara O’Donnell embraces the spirit of the Gothic fiction that inspired Jane Austen to write her own Gothic parody. Here is a preview and exclusive excerpt from the author for your Halloween entertainment.
PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)
Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampire gives the classic Jane Austen novel a chilling twist as a series of secret letters discovered by modern day descendants of the Bertram family reveal a menace to Mansfield Park more frightening than a visit from Aunt Norris.
This tale of terror, that Fanny Price never dared to send to her seafaring brother William, chronicles her struggles to defeat the double trouble danger brought on by Mary and Henry Crawford.
This sinister set of siblings with sharp wits, and even sharper fangs, manage to cast a spell of amiability that hides their deadly desire for Bertram blood. Armed with surety of purpose and a specially sharpened keepsake, can Fanny put aside her creepmouse manners in order to protect the only true home she knows and loves, as well as her beloved Edmund? Or does she have enough difficulty keeping Lady Bertram awake during tea time?
From the author of The Austen Avenger comes a fang in cheek celebration of Jane Austen’s most underrated heroine from Mansfield Park, Fanny Price, on the 200th anniversary of the publication of the original novel, Mansfield Park. She may speak softly, but Fanny does carry quite the sharp stick for staking!
EXCERPT (from Letter the Eleventh, from Part One)
In this letter from the first section of the novella, the preparations for Lovers’ Vows are under way and Fanny is doing her best to help behind the scenes. A quiet moment for costume repair is unexpectedly interrupted by a private rehearsal between Henry Crawford and Maria Bertram that Fanny becomes a hidden witness to. Much to her horror, certain fears regarding this friendship are frighteningly confirmed and a new one arises….
My Dear William,
It turns out that Aunt Norris is willing to trust me with the needle when it comes to Count Cassel’s cloak after all. She thrust it at me as I went downstairs upon finishing my last letter to you. “There are but three seams; you may do them in a trice. It would be lucky for me if I had nothing but the executive part to do.” She said before turning to greet Mr. Rushworth, who was hoping that someone would help him with his lines, an almost daily occurrence at this point.
While she chatted with him regarding the need for more material for his costume, I took that most opportune moment to slip away into one of the parlor rooms with my sewing box to better concentrate on the work to be done (and there were more than three seams that needed doing, brother, not that you know much about such things! I wonder who does your laundry and sews up your sleeves that you always manage to tear? A topic for another time, perhaps, and a little peace and quiet.
So, far, I have most of it complete and in a much more satisfying way than before, if I may be so bold to say so. This play business is such a fuss, yet it does seem to make the time go by, especially for Aunt Bertram. She has expressed interest in seeing the play (although she keeps forgetting the title) but since there is a dress rehearsal tomorrow night, she is willing to wait until then to satisfy her curiosity.
Oh, I hear the door opening, I must complete this cloak and letter later…..
Oh, William, what a shock I have just had! My seat in the parlor was far enough in the corner and slightly behind a screen, so that when Mr. Crawford and Maria came in, they had no real chance of seeing me. I was about to announce my presence in the room when Mr. Crawford took her face in his hands and gazed so deeply into her eyes, with that red glimmer in his pupils growing even so bright!
She stood still in this embrace and was taking such quick breathes that I became worried for her health, but soon enough she calmed herself as Mr. Crawford whispered something to her and then released her from his grasp.
I am ashamed to say, brother, that I cowered back into my corner, feeling compelled to watch the scene unfolding before me. They then began to rehearse a scene from Lover’s Vows, where they are supposed to be mother and son but their behavior was hardily the sort that any mother and son would engage in!
“Take this, good woman” said Mr. Crawford, holding out his hand which causes her character to turn around and recognize him as her child. As they rushed to hold one another, their lips met for a kiss and a rather deep one at that!
Mr. Crawford then nuzzled her neck and said his line “What is this? How do I find my mother thus?” and I could see two of his front teeth grow long and sharp as he did so and then his mouth went from her lips to her throat, with his fangs, the only proper word for such hideous teeth, piercing the skin and drawing blood!
I gasped, fortunately not too loudly as to attract their notice but it was the voice of Mr. Yates that caught their attention as he practiced one of his loud speeches while walking the halls. I waited until they had composed themselves (Mr. Crawford placing a handkerchief to Maria’s neck, along with more whispers in her ear) and departed before leaving the parlor myself.
It is nearly an hour till dinner and yet I cannot think what to do about this. I do not wish to expose Maria’s inappropriate behavior with Mr. Crawford to all, yet I am worried about more than her virtue at this point.
Seeing how Maria’s dress collar was undone, much like Edmund’s those times before when he was alone with Miss Crawford, I truly suspect that both of them have been indulging their unnatural appetites with my cousins and yet, even if I do reveal such horrors and are believed, what will happen then? Perhaps that will embolden both brother and sister Crawford into feeding upon us all or worse….
I must think what to do, William and for now, will keep mum. Clearly, the Crawfords feel secure in their habits and will not do anything rash unless provoked. I will watch and wait but not in the frightened way I have before. I believe the answers I seek may be in those volumes that Uncle Norris left for Edmund and since he never forbade me to read them, I have no qualms about perusing them now.
I will keep you informed, privately of course, as it is far too dangerous to send these letters out to you now.
Pray for me, William, even if you do not know what for!
End of Excerpt
Author Bio: Tara O’Donnell is a former bookseller who is now working at making her literary dreams come true. She is the author of several e-books such as The Austen Avenger, The Hench Woman’s Handbook and The Chronicles of Copper Boom, all of which feature cover art created by her talented sister Stephanie O’Donnell.
Tara has contributed humorous pieces to Galleycat’s Longest Literary Remix series and had a sketch entitled “Bennet Bridezillas” published in the anthology Bad Austen: The Worst Stories That Jane Never Wrote. Her current writing can be seen at Living Read Girl, her pop culture blog, and in private, she has a full fledged novel in the works.
Much like Elinor Dashwood, Tara resides with her widowed mother and younger sister, plus a trio of charming cats (and yes, one of them is named after the heroine of Twilight). Unlike Elinor, Tara does have a passion for dead leaves, along with Gilmore Girls and the delight that a good book can bring.
Fanny Price: Slayer of Vampires, by Tara O’Donnell
Digital eBook (163) pages
Cover image and excerpt courtesy of Tara O’Donnell © 2014, Austenprose.com