Sass & Serendipity Blog Tour with Author Jennifer Ziegler

Sass and Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler (2011)Please join us today in welcoming young adult fiction author Jennifer Ziegler for the official launch of her book blog tour of Sass & Serendipity a new Sense and Sensibility-inspired YA novel that is releasing tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House).

Growing up, I found great comfort in reading Jane Austen.  I can’t remember exactly when I discovered her, but it was sometime during my high school years.  From a purely literary standpoint I would have to say that Pride and Prejudice is her masterwork, but Sense and Sensibility has always been my favorite.

I adored the characters of Elinor and Marianne, and, being a sister myself, I could really relate to their relationship – especially the way they were so different and yet still fiercely devoted to each other.  I realized that sisterhood today wasn’t all that different from sisterhood two centuries ago, and I started to wonder when somebody would do a modern retelling – something that would stay true to the themes and moods of the book.

And here is where I make a confession:  I think, in some ways, Jane Austen wrote YA.  Before anyone tosses tomatoes at me, please allow me to explain…

Austen’s books centered around young women on the verge of adulthood.  They are nearly ready to leave the nest and take their spot in the world – and in the Regency era, the best landing of all would be that of a happy marriage to a good and prosperous man.  Standing on this threshold of life is the emotional setting for all young adult novels.  Teens are caught between the insular world of the childhood home and that of society at large.  Even if they don’t strike out on their own at the end, they have surely become more “adult” by the final page.

Austen never makes the search for a proper husband the point of her stories.  In every case the main character needs to go through some significant growth first.  Whether it’s Elinor learning to trust her feelings as much as her intellect, Marianne coming out of her fantasies and into her senses, Elizabeth learning not to judge too prematurely, Emma learning not to meddle in other people’s lives, and so on, Austen makes sure her heroines recognize and overcome character flaws in order to earn their happy-ever-afters.  Such maturation is central to young adult literature, as it is with all good character-based fiction.  However, in YA, the age of the protagonists is key.  Teens and early twenties don’t know as much about the world or themselves quite yet.  Because of this, the problems they face are brand new, but also – and this is critical – their emotions are brand new.  This is first love, first heartbreak, first crushing disillusionment.

Thus, when I really stopped to consider it, I realized that any retelling of an Austen novel would almost have to be a young adult book in order to stay true to these themes and arcs.  At that point it was a quick hop from “Someone should do an update of Sense and Sensibility” to “Yes … and why not me?”

Of course, it was a daunting suggestion.  Me update Austen?  Would I give the original source material the proper care and reverence?  The answer was no.  I mean, I knew I would do my best, but I also knew that I couldn’t duplicate Austen’s prose.  My writing style is just too different.  I also knew that the scope of the book would have to be changed – favorite scenes and characters would have to go.  An exact retelling, with faithful character match-ups and plot recreations would be impossible.  Any attempt would end up a mess.

So, to avoid disappointing Austen fans, my fans, and myself, I decided early on that my novel would pay homage to Sense and Sensibility without being a strict retelling.  It was the feel of the book – the themes of sisterly bonds, romance, and identity – that inspired me to update it in the first place, so that is where I would start.

Ironically, to be true to the tone and premise of her book, I had to stay far away from it.  In fact, I avoided all things Austen while drafting the novel (a huge sacrifice for me).  I didn’t want to be tempted toward replication, so instead, I worked from memory – the storylines, moods, and ideas that had made an indelible impression on me.

The result was Sass & Serendipity, a story of two sisters living in modern, small-town Texas, and their run-ins with romance, economic hardships, societal pressures, and each other.  It was tough to write – but fun.  I really enjoyed getting to “play Austen.”

And now that the book is out, I’ve gotten the best endorsement ever:  my sister, Amanda, loves it.  I hope others will, too.

Author Jennifer ZieglerAuthor Bio:

Jennifer Ziegler is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not to be Popular. Born in Temple, Texas, as a child she also lived in Anchorage, Alaska and then returned to the Lone Star state to attend the University of Texas, where she earned degrees in journalism and English. While there she fell in love with Austin and its many cool hangouts, music venues, swimming holes, and hip people. Upon graduation, she decided to settle there, working as a freelance reporter, editorial assistant, and middle school language arts teacher. Jennifer also met a cute musician guy named Carl and the two got married. Visit Jennifer at her website, or Facebook, and follow her on Twitter as @ZieglerJennifer.

Giveaway of Sass & Serendipity

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Sass & Serendipity by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Sense and Sensibility-inspired young adult novel or which character in the original novel is your favorite, by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 21, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Sass & Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler
Delacorte Books (2011)
Hardcover (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0385738989

© 2007 – 2011 Jennifer Ziegler, Austenprose

40 thoughts on “Sass & Serendipity Blog Tour with Author Jennifer Ziegler

  1. Col. Brandon remains my favorite (though my respect for Elinor never waivers) — certainly see him as the best of Austen’s men — he is “loyal and true” from beginning to end. He is a good man who has been trod upon by his family and rises above. (Seeing him portrayed by Alan Rickman doesn’t hurt either.)

    Since Marianne’s [juvenile] behavior dominates the storyline of Austen’s S&S, Jennifer Ziegler’s arguement that it is a YA work is something to consider. Would be interested in reading Ziegler’s reinterpretation of the novel.

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  2. Like the commenter above, I also would say that Colonel Brandon is my favorite character. Of course I love Elinor (always picture her in my mind as Emma Thompson). I love the Sass and Serendipity title! Thanks for the giveaway.

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  3. I’m a fan of almost all things Austenesque, so I’m intrigued with this one simply because of the genre. However, it will be interesting to see how Ziegler addresses the issue of emotional barriers, put up to stop the hurting. We all do this to some degree, so it’s an issue that’s easy to relate to.

    Laura Hartness

    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

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  4. This sounds so interesting! It’s always difficult to choose a favorite character in this novel, but I think it would either be Elinor or Colonel Brandon for me :)

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  5. I am SO excited about this book because I will never forget visiting Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, England when I was 13, just about to turn 14. The second I began reading her novels, I knew I wanted to be a writer. And with two older sisters and no brothers, I could easily identify with the sibling dynamics. Elinor, of course, is my favorite. Kind, wise, loyal with a quiet longing in her soul. Perfect reading for a girl on the cusp of becoming a young woman. Can’t wait to read the modern vision!

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  6. S & S is so full of wonderful believeable characters. I love the quiet unwavering devotion of Colonel Branden for Marianne. I love Sir John Middleton’s loving generosity in providing a home and society for the Dashwood’s. I also love Mrs. Jennings for taking Eleanor and Marianne under her wing and introducing them to all things London. Such a sweet love Miss Austen shows us between the two sisters…..probably something modeled from real life by the relationship between Jane and her own sister Cassandra. You couldn’t have picked a better story model for your book!

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  7. what intrigues you most about reading a Sense and Sensibility-inspired young adult novel ? in reading jennifer’s post, i think reading and seeing from a new perspective is what intrigues me most. .. thank you Jennifer! well done…

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  8. I enjoyed this post and it really makes me want to read a Sense and Sensibility inspired young adult novel. I love the title – Sass and Serendipity!

    In the original novel, I love all of the characters, but my favorite is Willoughby. He is a bad boy that I know I should hate, but yet I love (just like Marianne). I still wish that he was redeemed in the end and ended up with Marianne!

    I’ve always felt closest to the Elinor character. I’m the eldest with two younger sisters (and a brother) and often have felt like I have to hold my feelings in reserve to be the responsible older sibling. There are so many moments in the novel that I think – that’s just like me!

    I love Sense and Sensibility!

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  9. I don’t know if Jennifer’s YA version of “S&S” has a character equivalent to Fanny Dashwood, but I always felt that Jane Austen let her off too easily — my sense of justice would have welcomed a bit more of a “comeuppance” for Fanny.

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  10. You know, I can totally go with Ziegler’s thoughts on Austen writing YA! Makes perfect sense, and coming-of-age and first love stories are always my favorite. I’m interested to read Sass & Serendipity to see which elements of the original Ziegler incorporated and which were completely her own . . . sounds great!

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  11. Congratulations on the launch, Jennifer!

    I can’t help myself, I love Willoughby. I know he’s all wrong, he’s a scoundrel and ne’er-do-well but I still wouldn’t mind him eating crackers in my bed. ;)

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  12. Zeigler’s comments about YA novels is really interesting, I never thought about it that way. I am curious to see how she modernizes Elinor and Marianne and how they grow in the book.

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  13. I’ve always loved Col. Brandon (and I’m not alone!), so I’d love to see how any YA reinterpretation, including Ziegler’s, handles the whole Brandon-Marianne-Willoughby triangle. I would imagine there’s not much call for duels to defend young women’s honor these days. Likewise, I’d be interested in seeing how the YA version of the whole “Willoughby gets Brandon’s ward pregnant” storyline would play out.

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  14. Great giveaway! I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for Coniol Branden (but that might have something to do with Alan Rickman)!

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  15. I think it will be fun to see all the dynamics played out in the 21st century. I have always wondered how people could keep their mouths shut when someone was trashing them to their face, so maybe we might see Elinor say something back in this modern version? That could be fun. Colonel Brandon as always been my favorite and I see I’m not the only one who loves his steadfastness and sweetness to Marianne but also to Elinor.

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  16. Your thoughts on Austen being like YA had me going Yikes at first but I followed your advice and continued reading. I think you’ve made a good point to ponder. Where I would differ I think is that the heroes are so much older and worldly-wise. They are ready for finally settling down in most cases. I look forward to reading this novel.

    I, too, am curious to see how you handle Elinor in today’s social customs. She’s my favorite but I have to admit I was very little like her as a teen. My thoughts tended to come out of my mouth and the 1st time I read S & S I was impatient with the complete reticence to speak one’s feelings and identified with Marianne more. But Elinor is the model of quiet confidence in her own value and though her heart begins to ache she waits. I totally could have learned from her as a teen.

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  17. There can never be enough Jane Austen. She portrays every woman’s dreams. Elinor is ecxellent of course, but I am REALLY excited to read Zielger’s work. Thanks for introducing me.

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  18. Thank you, Laurel Ann and Austenprose for featuring me on your beautiful blog! And hello, fellow Janeites! Thank you for the comments. I have to confess to also loving Colonel Brandon. The character in my book who’s based on him was probably my favorite, and I enjoyed writing his scenes the most.

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  19. This is a great giveaway! I’m excited to see how the characters translate into a modern world. My favorite character is Elinor even thought I am more like Marianne in real life.

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  20. I love all of Jane Austen’s novels (shocking to hear, as I’m a teen), and honestly, what draws me most to this book, is that it’s one of my favorite novels, written about modern day teens, to modern day teens, yet still with a Jane Austen-ish (not a real word, I know) connection. Thanks Jennifer!

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  21. This is my all time favorite of Jane Austen’s novels, and I want to see how that could translate into a modern day world, but with teens (although Marianne and Elinor are teens if I’m not mistaken).

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  22. Now please bear in mind I haven’t read S&S in years (but plan to reread soon for the S&S Challenge!), so in large part my character preference is directly connected to the film adaptations. Particularly the most recent BBC miniseries…wherein I fell head-over-heels in love with Edward. Like, not even kidding. From his horse to his struggle to his ultimate redemption and even chasing his chickens – Edward is…a perfect hero. I love him. That is all :) hehe

    ps: This book is so totally on my Must Read list, even if I don’t win!

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  23. I am (and have been since I was a girl) a fan of all things Austen!

    I think my favorite character is Elinor. I especially love the way Emma Thompson played her in the 1995 S&S movie.

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  24. I’m intrigued because I read Jennifer Ziegler’s How not to be Popular a few years ago and it was hilarious. Also Elinor is totally my favorite.

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  25. Can you think of a better way to introduce Jane Austen to a whole new generation of readers than with a YA novel? It’s downright brilliant! S&S is one of my favorites, and I love Col. Brandon.

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  26. This book intrigues me because I’ve never thought of JA as a YA author before–and I like that thought a lot! To update it and read it with that different literary lens truly intrigues me and makes me quite curious about this title!

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  27. This story sounds like so much fun! I have really enjoyed the few YA Austen inspired books that I have read. And I have yet to read one based on S&S. My favorite character in Sense and Sensibility is Elinor. Being the eldest child of three, I can relate with her in so many ways!!

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  28. Great interview and I’m so excited there’s a chance to win a copy! I am so intrigued by the premise of this taking place in Texas, I like in Oklahoma just a hop skip and a jump over the Red River from TX. The idea of Austen done southern girl style (iced tea and all I’m sure!) sounds like an interesting and fresh take on this timeless tale. Thanks for the chance!~

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  29. I am looking forward to reading the sister element of the book. Can’t wait to read this book even though I am just a young adult at heart.

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  30. I just think this story would translate well to the YA genre and I love all Austen stories, so I’d love to read it. And my favorite character is probably Col.Brandon because he’s just such a decent guy.

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  31. well I wanted to leave a comment before I saw the give away but now I think thats really cool and I hope I get the book because I want to read it but I am on a grad school budget.
    I think its interesting to consider Jane Austen as a YA author, when I was in highschool reading Jane Austen seemed so high brow that I was I super cool now she is just the author I like to cuddle up and read. But I have never thought about her being more young adult still being in my mid 20s I just think of the heroines like me still experiencing first loves, first heart aches, and still learning more about this world.
    I personally I am trying to write a story like Sense and sensibility but set in the early 1900s. I love the characters so much that trying to figure out all the details of their relationships and their hearts have been fun. So that is another reason I want to read this book because I want to see how another author makes Elinor and Marianne come to life.

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  32. I think several of Jane Austen’s books could be considered coming-of-age, if that’s the same thing as YA. Marinanne, Emma, and Catherine Morland all ‘grow up’ quite a bit in their novels, and learn valuable lessons that most people could benefit from in one way or another.

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  33. Of Austen’s novels, Sense and Sensibilty was my very favorite. I’d love to read about the story of two sisters in Texas akin to the beloved Elinor and Marianne. The possibilities of their modern day adventures intrque me.

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  34. My favourite characters are Elinor and Marianne. I love their interactions and their love for each other especially considering that they are so different.

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  35. Pingback: Giveaway Winners Announced for Sass & Serendipity « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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