Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (2012)We have a special treat in store for you today. Please help us welcome New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale. She has graciously fit us into her very busy promotional schedule and answered a few probing questions about her new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland, and the new movie in production of her first novel in the series, Austenland.

LAN: Thanks Shannon for joining us today to chat about your new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland. This is the second time you have taken readers to that special place, Pembrook Park, the Regency-era theme park in Kent, England designed for Janeites. What tempted you to return?

SH: I was writing a screenplay for Austenland with Jerusha Hess and really enjoying returning to the story and the characters. Then when I wrote up a character sheet for my co-writer, I stumbled upon a new story idea. That story became Midnight in Austenland. I was delighted! I’d never thought to return.

LAN: Do any of the original characters from Austenland make an appearance in Midnight in Austenland? If so, can you share who and why you chose them?

SH: Miss Charming, who was a guest in the first book, is still there. The idea made me laugh, so I had to do it. I love writing her dialog, and I felt like her character had more to explore. Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the proprietress, and her handsy husband are there, and Colonel Andrews, whose parlor mystery game created the story that I couldn’t wait to follow.

LAN: There are many interesting and entertaining new characters in Midnight in Austenland, but the standout for me was Mr. Mallery. Can you give us any insight into your inspiration for his character and a preview of your deliciously moody hero?

SH: Thank you! I was thinking about how Jane Austen was in many ways commenting on the gothic romances of her day in her stories, even with Mr. Darcy. I wanted Mallery to start at that place but mixed in a little more Rochester and Heathcliff–a dark hero with a bit more bite. He was fun. I want to say more, but I’m afraid I’d get spoilery!

LAN: Midnight in Austenland is not only a romantic comedy; it is a mystery, with spirited allusions to Jane Austen’s gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Gothic fiction played an important part in Austen’s creation of Northanger Abbey. Were there any mystery novels or authors that inspired you?

SH: Definitely. I infused my reading with mystery and the gothic while writing this novel. I read lots of Agatha Christie as well as contemporary mysteries and relished gothic tales like Rebecca, The Haunting of Hill House, and Jane Eyre. And I could call it all research! I love my job.

LAN: Both of your American heroines from each of your novels: Jane and Charlotte, escape a crisis in their lives and travel to England to enter a world that any Jane Austen fan would give their most cherished copy of Pride and Prejudice to visit. Life is not always as rose-colored as we would like in Regency England without modern conveniences. If you were to visit Pembroke Park and enter the early nineteenth-century, what would you miss most? What could you easily live without?

SH: I think the food then sounds awful. I’d miss fresh fruits and vegetables. Bathrooms, showers, tampons (is that TMI? But can you imagine?!). I think women had very little freedom as well, and the restrictions would drive me crazy after a while. But for a couple weeks? Sign me up!

LAN: Congratulations on Austenland being made into a movie produced by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. What was it like transforming your novel into a screenplay with director Jerusha Hess? Hale and Hess. That sounds like a vaudeville act! Can you share any of your team writing experiences with us?

SH: We are totally a vaudeville act, that’s the perfect description. I loved co-writing with Jerusha. She’s a veteran screenwriter, having co-written Napoleon Dynamite and others. We laughed a lot. That’s the big plus of writing a comedy. We’d sit in a room pitching lines and scenes at each other, trying to make ourselves laugh. The funniest stuff stuck.

LAN: Did you have the chance to visit the set during filming of Austenland? If so, what was it like to see your creative ideas transformed into physical reality?

SH: I did! In fact I was on set every day of the 7 week shoot in England. Talk about a dream come true. It was absolutely surreal, like stepping into Austenland, except I didn’t have to give up showers and toilets. And no charming British actors fell in love with me. I think…

LAN: You obviously admire Jane Austen. When did you first read one of her novels and what was your reaction? As a writer, what do you find most enlightening, entertaining, or enduring about her works? 

SH: I first read Pride & Prejudice in high school and have often returned to her books for rereads. E. Lockhart said on our Austen-themed figment.com chat: “[Austen] uses wit in service of real complexity of thought & social commentary. Not just for punch lines.” Austen is romantic AND she’s funny. That should be enough for anyone, and yet Austen is even more than that too. She’s so smart. I just love her intelligent, clever, hopeful yet realistic way of looking at the world.

LAN: If you were to find a free afternoon when you were not writing or promoting one of your books, what would you like to do more than anything?

SH: I have four small children. If I had a free afternoon, I’d probably freak out. “What’s wrong? Where is everybody? Has the End come?!” Then I’d probably take a bath and read a book. I know, I’m crazy like that.

LAN: Are you working on your next book? If so, can you share any news for your readers? 

SH: Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy, will be out in August. And I’m working on my scifi-adventure-superhero book, currently untitled.

Thanks, Austenprose!

Author Shannon HaleAuthor Bio:

Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels, including the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, two award-winning books for adults, and the upcoming Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012). She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel with husband Dean Hale. They live with their four small children near Salt Lake City, Utah. Visit Shannon at her website: squeetus; on Facebook as Shannon Hale; and on Twitter as @haleshannon.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three hardcover copies available of Midnight in Austenland, by Shannon Hale by leaving a comment about what intrigues you about an Austenesque mystery, or if you have read Austenland, who your favorite character is by 11:59 pm PT Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, March 01, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA (2012)
Hardcover (288) pages
ISBN: 978-1608196258
NOOK: ISBN: 978-1608196401
Kindle: ASIN: B006WXUK3Q

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress & Shannon Hale, Austenprose

63 thoughts on “Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!

Add yours

  1. I have always loved British murder mysteries…Sayers, James, Christie and the idea that mystery and Austen are combined sounds like great fun!


  2. I am looking forward to returning to Austenland. I really enjoyed the first book and also her book “The Actor and the Housewife”! Wonderful to know that Austenland will be made into a film! Thank you!


  3. I loved Austenland–I have the audiobook on my iPod, and have listened to it more times than I can keep track of. Miss Charming absolutely cracks me up!


  4. I am intrigued by many of the Austen-style mysteries. There is something so special about the atmosphere in them, and the really good ones capture the subtle, almost-naive wit of Austen’s original work – funny without artifice and contrivance. I’d surely like to have this book!


  5. I love Regency Romances (big fan of Georgette Heyer) and can just imagine the fun of humor and mayhem at Austenland. thanks for the giveaway.


  6. I love Regency mysteries, especially those with some tie to Austen–I’ve been reading Carrie Bebris’s mysteries, and can’t wait to read “Midnight in Austenland”. Thanks for the giveaway!


  7. One thing that I find interesting in Austen mysteries, particularly murder mysteries, is the lengths through which they go to solve crimes. Today we are so used to CSI. But back then, they didn’t really know about finger prints.

    One question I’ve always had was this, why is there always someone listening behind the door in Austenesque mysteries?


  8. Anything written with the intent of bringing Austen characters to new and different heights always intrigues me. I’m always eager to read such books and own a few already. But it would be especially great to read one such book by Shannon Hale.


  9. I love Austen-esque mysteries because they had so little to work with back then. They had no modern conveniences like computers and technology that would help them figure things out SO much faster. It makes it more difficult to solve the mystery and it makes it more interesting to follow along with those trying to solve it.


  10. Agatha Christie’s mysteries have always been my favorite books
    to read! I would really enjoy reading Austenland and the way the
    characters from Jane Austen react in a mystery setting!
    Many thanks, Cindi


  11. Austeland was so fun, I’m excited to pick up the sequel. Glad to hear Miss Charming is back. She’s hilarious–although I think I might go crazy if I had to share an Austen vacation with her!


  12. I love Jane Austen’s characters, wit and humor invovled in a mystery. Takes Jane to a different level. So when your romanced out, picking up the next best thing a mystery that incorporates Jane and all her exactness into the pages. I would love to win this, thanks for the review!


  13. Ive always liked mysteries since i was little and a combination of my favorite author or stories and mystery is great for me. I have read carrie bebris mr and mrs darcy mysteries along with “the Phantom at Pemberley.”

    Shannon may I just say i loved your austenland book and have been looking forward to midnight at austenland :)


  14. I have not read Austenland but I hear it’s being filmed! I think Austenesque mysteries are intriguing because I’m in love with all things related to Jane Austen (except vampires or zombies).


  15. How can you pick just one character? This book was so much fun to read. I loved the concept from the very beginning. So excited to see a new book from Ms. Hale!


  16. “Midnight in Austenland” was terrific!! Can’t wait to see the “Austenland” movie. And my daughter is highly anticipating Book2 in “The Princess Academy.” Kudos on another terrifc author interview, LaurelAnn!


  17. The use of red herrings to distract from discovering the villian is what I find intriguing about mysteries. This book sounds like a fun read!
    Thank you for the giveaway.


  18. I love how having a mystery in the story engages my mind. This one seems to be interesting in that the heroine isn’t even sure of what is real.

    Enjoyed the interview and appreciate the giveaway opportunity.


  19. I’m so glad that there’s Midnight in Austenland because I loved Austenland! And I love murder mysteries, so the fact that this combines Jane Austen and mystery is fantastic!

    ~Sara S


  20. I love the idea of an Austenesque mystery, because both mystery and so much of Austen’s writing depend on the point of view – on misconceptions and discovering the truth about a person, situation, or relationship. I think it’s a great idea!


  21. I’ve not read one of your books (YET) but by the comments I’ve read here by everyone who has thinks highly of them. I’m on an important reading assignment but I promise I’ll pick one of yours out when I’m done. What’s intriguing about a Jane Austen mystery? Well, for me and many others, Jane Austen’s life is a bit of a mystery in its own right. I wished we all knew more about her.


  22. The concept of an Austenesque mystery, especially one by Shannon Hale, appeals to me because it promises to be diverting and funny. I think my favorite character from “Austenland” is Miss Charming. She’s certainly the most memorable!


  23. I think some Austen books lend themselves to this mystery category, so it’s always fascinating to see how authors interpret them in that sense. And I love all the characters from Austenland, so I just can’t choose!


  24. I’m so excited to read this!!! Sounds like such a fun book! And definitely looking forward to Austenland in film!! :)


  25. I loved Austenland when I read it. Austenesque mysteries are wonderful as they not only take you back to the Regency, but you also get a bit of old-time sleuthing to go along with it! Shannon Hale is a wonderful author and I have enjoyed so many of her novels, and love that some of them are geared towards adults!

    I cannot wait to see the movie! How wonderful to see your words on a screen!

    Thanks for the chance to win this novel! It has been on my TBR pile since I first heard of it!



  26. Oh, I love Austenesque mysteries! It takes two great genres and infuses them! I am looking forward to reading this book! Can’t wait!
    Thanks for the giveaway!


  27. I am intrigued by the combination of two of my favorite things–Austenesque and mysteries! Can’t wait to read these books!


  28. Thought I commented earlier but do not see it. Sorry if double posted

    Ilove mysteries and love the combination of my two favorites: Mysteries and Jane Austen. Loved Austenland !


  29. I love Austenesque mysteries, because they feature characters I love, and I enjoyed Austenland. It was fun trying to figure out what everyone’s angle was. I’d love to win MIA.


  30. I loved Austenland which was amazing! These two books by the author are so different than any other Jane Austen plot, and a moody Mr. Darcy/Mr. Rochester hero is always great! :)


  31. I have not checked out Austenland yet. Have heard good things about it. Would love to win and read this book. thanks for the chance to win.


  32. What intrigues me about Austenesque mystery is that it gives a new spin a a favorite genre.



  33. I love everything Shannon Hale writes, and I can’t wait to read “Midnight in Austenland!” My favorite character in the first book was definitely the aunt. How funny and quietly wise! :)


  34. Austenesque mysteries sound good — good, old-fashioned mysteries. I don’t believe that there are many Regency cozy mysteries and I’d like to read some. I love Agatha Christie books, too. I’ve read some of Carrie Bebris’s books. Anna Dean has a Regency series (“if Jane Austen wrote Miss Marple” is what it says on the book jackets, I think) and Lynn Shepherd wrote Murder at Mansfield Park.


  35. Thanks for the giveaway!
    I’m intrigued by Austenesque mysteries because of the possibilities and promise of my favorite characters taking on different story lines.


  36. I loved Austenland, and Midnight in Austenland sounds like an awesome follow-up! My favorite character was Nobley because I pictured him looking like the actor who played Darcy in Lost in Austen :)


  37. Absolutely loved Austenland!! It’s definitely one of my fav books to re-read. My favorite character from the book has to be Jane!


  38. How exciting! I loved Austenland, so I’m definitely excited about this new one -yay! As far as my fave character goes it would have to be the aunt :)


  39. The idea of Austenland is just pure fun. It is a place where reality is not allowed to intrude; where men are courteous and ladies are elevated on pedestals. Throw in a cozy mystery and a faux murder to keep everyone entertained…until Charlotte begins to suspect that a real murder has been committed. The story takes a turn from Austen into Bronte…unless Charlotte is turning into Catherine Morland, investigating imaginary murders.


  40. I just finished Midnight in Austenland and I absolutely loved the book! I’m sooo hoping they make a movie! I was actually reading though the Q&A hoping to find somewhere saying that they were going to make a movie..


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