Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2013: Celebrating A Plan of a Novel

Jane Austen Birthday Soirée (2012)Today, December 16th, is Jane Austen’s birthday. 237 years ago she was born at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England.

In celebration of my favorite author, I am participating in the Jane Austen Birthday Soiree being hosted by Maria at My Jane Austen Book Club blog. It is basically a blog hop with many great giveaways being offered. Each blog will feature a favorite passage from one of Austen’s works.

For your enjoyment, I have selected a short piece that exemplifies Austen’s humor, one her many talents that I am particularly fond of. A Plan of a Novel was written in 1816, probably in response to Austen’s visit to Carlton House in London with the Prince Regent’s librarian Rev. James Stanier Clarke and their subsequent correspondence in which he offers advice to the author on the subject of her next novel; and her family’s advice on the same subject! It is a parody, similar to her exuberant and fantastical Juvenilia, and her early novel Northanger Abbey, satirizing what was outrageous in the popular literature of her day. Interestingly, she also including notes in the margins indicating which of her family members made the suggestions!

The manuscript of Plan of a Novel now resides at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. You can view an image of the original document of A Plan of a Novel online at their website.

Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters, by Jane Austen

Scene be in the Country, Heroine the Daughter of a Clergyman, one who after having lived much in the World had retired from it and settled in a Curacy, with a very small fortune of his own. — He, the most excellent Man that can be imagined, perfect in Character, Temper, and Manners — without the smallest drawback or peculiarity to prevent his being the most delightful companion to his Daughter from one year’s end to the other. — Heroine a faultless Character herself, — perfectly good, with much tenderness and sentiment, and not the least Wit — very highly accomplished, understanding modern Languages and (generally speaking) everything that the most accomplished young Women learn, but particularly excelling in Music —  her favourite pursuit —  and playing equally well on the PianoForte and Harp — and singing in the first stile. Her Person quite beautiful — dark eyes and plump cheeks. — Book to open with the description of Father and Daughter —  who are to converse in long speeches, elegant Language —  and a tone of high serious sentiment. — The Father to be induced, at his Daughter’s earnest request, to relate to her the past events of his Life. This Narrative will reach through the greatest part of the first volume — as besides all the circumstances of his attachment to her Mother and their Marriage, it will comprehend his going to sea as Chaplain to a distinguished naval character about the Court, his going afterwards to Court himself, which introduced him to a great variety of Characters and involved him in many interesting situations, concluding with his opinions on the Benefits to result from Tithes being done away, and his having buried his own Mother (Heroine’s lamented Grandmother) in consequence of the High Priest of the Parish in which she died refusing to pay her Remains the respect due to them. The Father to be of a very literary turn, an Enthusiast in Literature, nobody’s Enemy but his own — at the same time most zealous in discharge of his Pastoral Duties, the model of an exemplary Parish Priest. — The heroine’s friendship to be sought after by a young woman in the same Neighbourhood, of Talents and Shrewdness, with light eyes and a fair skin, but having a considerable degree of Wit, Heroine shall shrink from the acquaintance.

From this outset, the Story will proceed, and contain a striking variety of adventures. Heroine and her Father never above a fortnight together in one place, he being driven from his Curacy by the vile arts of some totally unprincipled and heart-less young Man, desperately in love with the Heroine, and pursuing her with unrelenting passion. — No sooner settled in one Country of Europe than they are necessitated to quit it and retire to another — always making new acquaintance, and always obliged to leave them. — This will of course exhibit a wide variety of Characters — but there will be no mixture; the scene will be for ever shifting from one Set of People to another — but All the Good will be unexceptionable in every respect — and there will be no foibles or weaknesses but with the Wicked, who will be completely depraved and infamous, hardly a resemblance of humanity left in them. — Early in her career, in the progress of her first removals, Heroine must meet with the Hero — all perfection of course — and only prevented from paying his addresses to her by some excess of refinement. — Wherever she goes, somebody falls in love with her, and she receives repeated offers of Marriage — which she refers wholly to her Father, exceedingly angry that he should not be first applied to. — Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued either by her Father or by the Hero — often reduced to support herself and her Father by her Talents and work for her Bread; continually cheated and defrauded of her hire, worn down to a Skeleton, and now and then starved to death. — At last, hunted out of civilized Society, denied the poor Shelter of the humblest Cottage, they are compelled to retreat into Kamschatka where the poor Father, quite worn down, finding his end approaching, throws himself on the Ground, and after 4 or 5 hours of tender advice and parental Admonition to his miserable Child, expires in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm, intermingled with Invectives against holders of Tithes. — Heroine inconsolable for some time — but afterwards crawls back towards her former Country — having at least 20 narrow escapes from falling into the hands of the Anti-hero — and at last in the very nick of time, turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the Hero himself, who having just shaken off the scruples which fetter’d him before, was at the very moment setting off in pursuit of her. — The Tenderest and completest Eclaircissement takes place, and they are happily united. — Throughout the whole work, Heroine to be in the most elegant Society and living in high style. The name of the work not to be Emma, but of the same sort as S. & S. and P. & P.

End

If this bit of joyful burlesque amusement made you smile, you might want to pre-order Syrie James’ new novel The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen to be released on December 31, 2012. This new novel was inspired by Jane Austen’s Plan of a Novel. You can read my preview here. I have read Ms. James’ new work and it is indeed a clever incorporation of Austen humor, romance and biting wit.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Now gentle readers, in celebration of our favorite author please leave a comment sharing your favorite Austen novel, novella, or minor work to qualify for a chance to win one copy each of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. The contest is open to US residents and ends on December 18th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Pacific time. Winner to be announced on Thursday, December 20th, 2012. Good luck to all, and Happy Birthday Jane!

Please visit the other participants in The Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2013 by clicking on the links to their blogs listed below. Have fun!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austen in August Times Two

Austen in August events 2012

Wow! Two great Austen-inspired events are in progress this month to celebrate our favorite author.

Misty at The Book Rat is offering her annual fete in honor of Jane called Austen in August. Previously called Jane in June, readers will remember from past years that she puts on a great blog event featuring a read-along of an Austen novel and guest blogs from other Austen loving bloggers and Austenesque authors. I will be featured on Monday, August 27 answering the question:

A lot of readers – as much as they may love the books – are bothered by some of the pairings (think Marianne and Brandon, or Fanny and Edmund); are there any Austen couples you think are going to have a rocky road ahead of them?

There are tons of great giveaway chances for fabulous Austen-inspired stuff including a chance to win a copy of my short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. The event ends August 31, 2012, so make haste and check it out!

Adam at Roof Beam Reader is also highlighting our dear Jane this month with, you guessed it, Austen in August. Focused on all things Jane Austen, the event includes her primary texts, any re-imaginings of her works, biographies, critical texts, etc. So, basically all things Austen all the time! *squee*

Gracious book blogger Adam has a lot of things planned for his Austen-inspired month-long event including giveaways, guest posts, and, of course, his own reading and reviewing of Jane Austen works. Be sure to check it out and read an Austen novel or sequel or two this month.

Austen Extravaganza 2012 banner

In addition, here is an advance mention of my preview post next week of Meredith’s incredible blog event next month, Austenesque Extravaganza. This is her second annual Austen-inspired event at her blog Austenesque Reviews featuring daily posts with themes like: Sociable Sunday, Matchmaker Monday, Traveling Tuesday, Wednesday Word Games, Touring Thursday, Fan and Games Friday and Spotlight Saturday. I will be featured on Tuesday, September 18th, but I am sworn to secrecy about what I am writing about! I can reveal that there will be a chance to win one of three copies of Jane Austen Made Me Do it for participants, so be sure to please mark your calendars so you don’t miss out.

So much Austen fun out there Janeites! Go to it!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Pyramids Blog Tour with Authors Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb & Giveaway

Pride and Pyramids, by Amnada Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Please join us today in welcoming authors Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb on their blog tour of Pride and Pyramids, a new Austenesque sequel to Pride and Prejudice that takes Elizabeth, Darcy and their family to Egypt. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available.

Welcome Amanda and Jacqueline…

Amanda: I’d long wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but there were already a lot of sequels available and I didn’t want to repeat the usual story of Elizabeth and Darcy settling down at Pemberley. I didn’t want to write about the Darcys having marital problems either, since I firmly believe they live happily ever after, but a book needs incident in order to make it interesting, which created a dilemma. Then one day I was emailing Jackie, whose first book was set in Egypt, and something clicked, because it reminded me that Egyptology was a huge craze in the Regency era. The wealthy young men of the eighteenth century often extended their Grand Tour of Europe to include Greece, Turkey and Egypt, and interest was heightened in 1799 – when Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice – because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone was brought to England and it was displayed in the British Museum from 1802 onwards. Interest continued to grow and Belzoni’s account of his adventures in Egypt, in 1815, (which was very useful for our research!) added more fuel to the fire. So it seemed a perfect setting for a sequel which would be new and fresh, but at the same time accurate for the period. I was very excited by the idea and suggested we write it together because Jackie had researched Egypt intensively for her previous book and had all the relevant research books at her fingertips.

Jacqueline: When Amanda suggested we collaborate on a Jane Austen sequel I was delighted. My first book The Scarlet Queen is based in Egypt about a young woman searching for an elusive cache of treasure in the Valley of the Kings, so I had already done a lot of research around this topic. My novel was set in the Edwardian era, about a hundred after Pride and Prejudice, but Egypt had been popular with the Europeans since Georgian times. Elizabeth, Darcy and their growing family were well-off and had enough leisure time to make the journey seem plausible and it was the kind of thing wealthy Europeans would do, although it would have been adventurous. However that aspect fit in well with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and allowed us to imagine them in a whole new environment, as well as meeting up with some old faces.

Amanda: Yes, we wanted to include some of the minor characters from Pride and Prejudice in Pride and Pyramids, as well as introducing some new ones.  As the book starts in London, then moves to Pemberley, before heading off to Egypt, we get a chance to catch up with Jane and Bingley. Then Lizzy and Darcy find they see rather more of Mrs Bennet than they intended! They have six lively children by this time, as the book is set fifteen years after their marriage. They’re still recognisably the characters from Pride and Prejudice, but we see them in their role of parents as well as in their interludes as a couple. And, of course, there are tombs and pyramids and an eerie little doll, which causes quite a bit of trouble! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope Pride and Pyramids will be just as much fun to read. It’s Elizabeth and Darcy as you’ve never seen them before!

Author Bios:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst The Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Jacqueline Webb lives on the Wirral, which is near to Liverpool, England, with her husband, two sons, two cats and one dog. She is a teacher of French and English and she has had two historical romances published by Robert Hale – The Scarlet Queen  and Dragonsheart. She has also just had a paranormal romance e-book published by Lyrical Press Sophronia and the Vampire, under the name Jacqueline Farrell. She has always enjoyed writing but didn’t get really serious about it until she was in her early forties. Her sons were very small and she was working part-time and feeling as though she was just rushing from work to babies without any time doing something she enjoyed. So she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and submitted a novel to their New Writers Scheme. Although she didn’t get anywhere with that submission she was given some great advice and wrote another novel which did get published.

Giveaway chance for Pride and Pyramids

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride and Pyramids by asking either author about their research and writing experience, or, which of Jane Austen’s original characters from Pride and Prejudice you would like to fall victim to the mummy’s curse by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook edition internationally. Good luck!

Pride and Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265358

© 2012 Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb, Austenprose

What’s the Big Deal about Mr. Darcy?

Join me today as I guest blog on Darcyholic Diversions, author Barbara Tiller Cole’s blog about our favorite romantic icon, Mr. Darcy. I broach the loaded question, “What’s the big deal about Mr. Darcy?” and offer a signed copy of my new Austen-inspired short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)

Visit Darcyholics Diversions to read about my personal Darcy dilemma and enter a chance for the giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Good luck!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austenesque Author of the Month – Laura Hile: Guest Blog & Giveaway!

Laura Hile Featured Austenesque Author May (2012)We are very happy to introduce Austenesque author Laura Hile as our featured author in May on Austenprose.

Laura has written a trilogy to Jane Austen’s last novel Persuasion which continues the story of Elizabeth, Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest, unmarried daughter. Those of you who have read Persuasion or seen the great movie adaptations of it will remember that Elizabeth is quite condescending and spiteful to her younger sister Anne, and one wonders out loud why would we would want to read three novels inspired by such a unappealing character? Her faults are truly onerous, which, makes her story all the more intriguing. How will she be transformed, or will she?

Every Saturday this month we will offer a guest blog, book reviews & giveaways, elaborating on why this series is so popular with Jane Austen fan fiction lovers. Here is the schedule:

  • May 05 – Introduction and Guest blog by Laura Hile
  • May 12 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course
  • May 19 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase
  • May 26 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide    

Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story, by Laura Hile

Without further ado, welcome Laura:

Meet Jane Austen’s “Other Elizabeth”

Such a heroine I’ve chosen for my Austen novels! What can I say? I simply could not resist her.

Her name is Elizabeth, but she’s not from Pride and Prejudice. I’ve taken on none other than Anne Elliot’s awful elder sister from Persuasion. Yes, that Elizabeth. The woman most Austen readers frankly love to hate.

Now don’t go by what you’ve seen in the movie adaptations. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Elliot is poised and graceful, and at twenty-nine is more beautiful than ever. She has exquisite taste, is sure of herself, and is fond of having her own way. She is also the eldest daughter of a very fine woman, which means she behaves badly but knows better.

In other words, she is me.

Well, except for the beautiful part. And the graceful part. And the always being able to get her way part. Thank the Lord I have never been pretty enough to get away with airing all of my fine opinions!

At the end of Persuasion Elizabeth Elliot is left in dismal straits, though she is too proud—and too stubborn! —to admit that. One way or another she must marry well, and so she begins to scheme. However, Miss Elliot is not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. She’s a scornful damsel in distress. What a delicious premise for a story!

And now I’ll share another sorry truth about myself. As a book-lover, I am a hopeless snoop. Oh, I’m too polite to listen at keyholes or peer through windows. But with a novel I don’t need to do those things! Everything’s laid out for my inquiring mind to devour: private conversations, innermost thoughts, and daring undertakings! All of the excitement of real life with none of the risks!

So perhaps the best way to introduce the “Other Elizabeth” is to allow you, my fellow book-lover, to snoop a bit. I present for your inspection a letter of Elizabeth’s. Can you discover what she’s about?

* * *

My Dear Mrs Darcy,

I wonder if I might solicit your advice regarding a mutual acquaintance, Miss Caroline Bingley. Having suffered disappointment in your novel, she must wander into mine!

And let me tell you, in Mercy’s Embrace Miss Bingley is making a thorough nuisance of herself. You viewed her as a rival (and I am heartily glad she was bested!) but I am seen as a social asset. Honestly, I do not know which is worse! What some people will do to advertise a connection with my family! Simply because my father is a baronet of ancient lineage, she must twitter and simper and hover round!

And when my odious cousin, William Elliot, returned to Bath, what must she do but set her sights on him! I know what she’s after—my late mother’s title as Lady Elliot! And she mistakenly assumes that intimacy with me will further her cause. Not only does she cling like a leech at public functions, but she insists on mauling my name, calling me Eliza, or worse, Lizzy. As if anyone but a fishwife would wish for that!

Miss Bingley must have rocks for brains, for she will not listen! I have told her, for example, that William Elliot has not yet inherited. It is most unwise to gamble on that, for so often the proper person does not die! And may I congratulate you, Mrs Darcy, for so wisely refusing Rev. Collins’ offer of marriage? I know all about marital desperation, but Longbourn was not his! It would have been madness to accept him!

As to my own affairs, you may have heard various tales. I would like to point out that though newly divorced, Mr Rushworth is in full possession of both the Sotherton Estate and its princely income. As to remarks about his person, why, I have confidence that he will improve. Besides, I am accustomed to managing a foolish gentleman. Have I not put up with my father for years? As to rumors that I have been meeting a clerk in a Bath tea shop, kindly disregard them. My father’s business affairs are again in a sad tangle, and this time I am handling things. I refuse to discuss business in a counting house! I suppose there are women who find Mr Gill attractive. I am not one of them.

But enough about me. If you would kindly reply, Mrs Darcy, listing any little thing that will irk Miss Bingley, I would be most grateful.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Elliot

Author Laura Hile (2012)Author Bio:  

As a girl Laura Hile pored over Victorian novels on her grandmother’s shelves, smitten with stories from a bygone era.  The wonder of Gothic Romance and Jane Austen’s Regency came next.  But it was not until serialized Austen fiction became popular that Laura summoned her courage and began to post stories of her own.  To keep readers interested, she developed what has become her signature style:  intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor.  The comedy she comes by naturally in her job as a middle school teacher—there’s never a dull moment at school!  Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, the eldest and youngest of her three college-age sons, and a collection of antique clocks. Visit Laura at her website Mercy’s Embrace; at her blog Jane Started It; on Facebook as Laura Hile Author and Mercy’s Embrace; and follow her on Twitter as @LauraHile.

Grand Giveaway of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story

Enter a chance to win one of three (3) copies of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile, or one (1) full set of the trilogy which also includes Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase and Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide, by asking Laura a question about her series or by sharing your reaction to any of the three reviews posted during our month-long author event each Saturday in May.  Entrants will qualify for a chance at the drawing of one (1) copy of book one, or one (1) each of the entire set. Both print editions and ebooks are available. Contest ends at 11:59 Wednesday May 30th, 2012. Winners announced on Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Shipment internationally. Good luck!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Wytherngate Press is offering the full series of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story at a discount through May.  You can receive a 25% off the print edition at their online shop, or $2.00 off the ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other etailers.

Many thanks to author Laura Hile for her wonderful guest blog introducing us to her heroine Elizabeth Elliot and for generous giveaways! Enjoy!

© 2007 – 2012 Laura Hile, Austenprose

The Three Colonels Blog Tour with Author Jack Caldwell & Giveaway

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell (2012)Today is World Book Day, and what better way to celebrate the printed word than with an Austenesque author?

Please join us today in welcoming Jack Caldwell on the first stop in his blog tour in celebration of the release of his second novel, The Three Colonels, published today by Sourcebooks. Jack has generously shared with us some insights into creating the novel, and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

Greetings, everyone. I’m Jack Caldwell, author of Pemberley Ranch, that western-themed re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m happy that Laurel Ann invited me back to Austenprose to talk about my new book, The Three Colonels – Jane Austen’s Fighting Men.

Unlike Pemberley Ranch which was a re-imagining, The Three Colonels is a sequel of the original novels set during the Regency. That’s right, novels—I combine Pride and Prejudice with another of Austen’s beloved books, Sense and Sensibility. I find that by doing so, I’ve opened up the Austen universe to unlimited possibilities.

So who are my three colonels?

  • Colonel Christopher Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility) – The romantic hero of Austen’s first novel is married to the former Marianne Dashwood, and they live happily with their baby daughter at Brandon’s estate of Delaford. For purposes of my novel, I’ve tweaked Brandon’s career a bit. He served not only in India and the East Indies, but also in Italy, where he met the future Duke of Wellington and the next of my colonels.
  • Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam (from Pride and Prejudice) – Possibly the most popular minor character in Austen’s entire canon. An officer in the Light Dragoons, Fitzwilliam has taken the place of Mr. Darcy as Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s favorite nephew and court jester. However, he’s still a second son with no fortune or estate of his own, and Lady Catherine well knows it. Fitzwilliam’s best friend, besides Darcy, is—
  • Colonel Sir John Buford (an original character) – Buford is a Welsh gentleman, an extraordinarily brave and capable officer in the Light Dragoons, and a particularly popular figure with the ladies. This “Dark Darcy” won his knighthood in Spain and comes to realize that his rakish conduct has not served him well. Valued by his superiors for his abilities, particularly with languages, he is distrusted for his dishonorable personal habits. Buford seeks redemption through better behavior and a good marriage.

Continue reading “The Three Colonels Blog Tour with Author Jack Caldwell & Giveaway”

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? Continue reading “Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!”

In Celebration of Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday: From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens: Guest blog by Lynn Shepherd, & a Giveaway

Google Celebration of Charles Dickens 2012

We are basically a tried and true Janeite, but quietly confess to admiration of another nineteenth-century novelist also born in Hampshire; – Charles Dickens. His style is entirely different than the witty underpinnings of our beloved Miss Austen, but one cannot ignore his fabulous characterizations and amazing plot twists.

Charles DickensToday is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth on February 7, 1812 at Landport, in Portsea, near Portsmouth, England. If Miss Austen is wholly a Regency author, then Dickens is her Victorian counterpart in popularity. He would become the most famous author of his day, writing sixteen major novels, traveling the world with his speaking tours and publishing other authors works like Mrs. Gaskell.

Like Jane Austen, Dickens has a huge following of admirers and sequelers. I was thrilled to learn last year that Murder at Mansfield Park author Lynn Shepherd was also a fan of Dickens and had written a novel inspired by one of his most popular works, Bleak House. Published last week as Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, Lynn’s new novel will also be released in the US in May by Random House as The Solitary House: A Novel.

Lynn is the perfect fellow Janeite to share her thoughts on Dickens’ bicentenary celebration with us on his special day. She has generously contributed a guest blog and a very special chance for readers to win one of three advance readers copies available of The Solitary House. Details of the giveaway are listed below. Welcome Lynn:  

Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd (2010)The last time I wrote a piece for Laurel Ann it was because I had just written Murder at Mansfield Park; I’m back now to help celebrate Dickens’ 200th birthday because I’m just about to publish a new murder mystery, inspired by his great masterpiece, Bleak House.

It’s a very long way from the elegant ambiance of Regency country houses, to the dark and dirty world of Victorian London, so why did I decide to make the move from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens? And having made that decision, what challenges did I face?

The first thing I realized was that I didn’t want The Solitary House to be the same sort of book as Murder at Mansfield Park. In the latter I had worked very hard to mimic Jane Austen’s beautiful prose style, rigorously checking my vocabulary to ensure it was in use at the time, and replicating the special rhythm of her sentences. But I knew at once that I didn’t want to do the same thing with Dickens. His style is almost as distinctive as hers, but I suspected any attempt to pastiche it would descend very quickly into parody.

Likewise I made the conscious decision not to even attempt to cram in everything Dickens does – his books are astonishingly broad in their scope, with comedy and satire at one extreme, and drama and psychological insight at the other. I’ve always been more interested in the latter than the former, and I confess I do find his caricatures rather tiresome in some of the novels.  So by now I was clear: I wanted to write a book inspired by Dickens, but ‘darker than Dickens’, with no comedy, no caricatures, and in a voice of my own.

The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd (2012)The result is a book that runs in parallel with the events of Bleak House, with some of Dickens’ characters appearing in mine, and the two stories coming together and intersecting at crucial moments.  Bleak House is, of course, the very first detective story in English, with the first fictional detective, Inspector Bucket. He appears in my story too – my young detective, Charles Maddox, was once fired from the Metropolitan Police at Bucket’s insistence, and their paths cross again as Charles’ investigation deepens.

Anyone who’s read Murder at Mansfield Park, will recognize the name ‘Charles Maddox’ at once, but we’re now in 1850, not 1811, and this new Charles Maddox is actually the great-nephew of my original Regency thief taker. Old Maddox appears in the book as well, but he’s now an elderly man, and suffering from a disease that we recognize at once as Alzheimer’s, but which was unknown at the time. But when Maddox has lucid periods he is still one of the sharpest minds in London, and Charles will need all his help if he’s to unravel the terrible secret at the heart of this sinister case.

One of the great delights – and challenges – of writing The Solitary House was to go back and re-create Dickens’ London. As many people have said, London is not just a setting in Dickens’ novels, but a character in its own right, and I had the opportunity to be even more forthright about the realities of life in the city than Dickens was able to be. We know far more, in some ways, that Dickens’ middle class contemporaries did, and I’ve tried to bring the 19th-century city to life in all its splendor, all its sin, and all its stink.

Great Expectations (2011) UKOf course many of us owe our mental pictures of Victorian London to the screen adaptations of Dickens’ works, and he does translate particularly well to film and TV. The BBC aired a new – and I think excellent – version of Great Expectations this Christmas, with Gillian Anderson as a chillingly beautiful and aloof Miss Havisham. There was also a new adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, with a new ending, and some wonderfully atmospheric scenes. There are many other excellent BBC adaptations of the books, and I’m also a great fan of the 1998 Our Mutual Friend, which has a marvelously intense Bradley Headstone, as played by David Morrissey, but my favorite – perhaps unsurprisingly – is the 2005 Bleak House.

Once again Gillian Anderson is utterly convincing and impressive as Lady Dedlock, and she’s supported by a wonderful cast of British character acting at its best. My only quibble is the choice of actor to play Tulkinghorn, as Charles Dance (in my view) is far too young, attractive, and just plain tall, to play the wizened old lawyer I have in my own imagination.

Bleak House (2005) BBCThe other fascinating thing about that Bleak House adaptation was that it was deliberately constructed in half-hour episodes, thereby mimicking the ‘serial publication’ of the original novel. It was a brilliant coup to screen it that way, since it helps us understand how Dickens structured his story with cliff-hangers at the end of each ‘number’, to keep people coming back for more.

And, of course, they did. And they still do, even 200 years after he was born, whether as readers, viewers, or – in my case – writers inspired by his great genius to create something new of their own.

Author Bio:

Lynn Shepherd studied English at Oxford, and later went on to do a doctorate on Samuel Richardson, which has now been published by Oxford University Press. She’s also a passionate Jane Austen fan, writing the award winning Murder at Mansfield Park in (2010), and just released another murder mystery Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, inspired by Charles Dickens Bleak House. Retitled The Solitary House, it will be released in the US by Random House in May. You can visit Lynn at her  website, on Facebook as Lynn Shepherd, and follow her on Twitter as @Lynn_Shepherd.

A Grand Giveaway of The Solitary House: A Novel

Enter a chance to win one of three advance reading copies available of The Solitary House: A Novel, by Lynn Shepherd by leaving a question asking Lynn about her inspiration to write a Dickens sequel, her research process, or if you have read Bleak House or seen any of the many film adaptations, which your favorite character is by 11:59 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, February 23, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Thanks for joining us today Lynn in celebration of one of literature’s most revered and cherished novelist of all time on his special day. Best of luck with your new mystery novel The Solitary House. I am so looking forward to reading it. 

© 2007 – 2012 Lynn Shepherd, Austenprose

Austenprose’s Jane Austen Birthday Soiree – December 16, 2011 – with tons of Giveaways!

Jane Austen Warhol Banner

HAPPY 236th BIRTHDAY JANE AUSTEN!

Welcome to our contribution to the Austen’s Birthday Soiree!

Austen's Birthday Soiree 2012We are participating in the Austen’s Birthday Soiree, hosted by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn & Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club. The daylong blog hop will feature a post in celebration of Jane Austen, her life, her novels and the era in which she lived at each of the 31 blogs!

Quick links to participants in Austen’s Birthday Soiree

  1. Blog: Sharon Lathan
  2. Blog: O! Beauty Unattempted
  3. Blog: Austenprose
  4. Blog: SemiTrue Stories
  5. Blog: First Draft
  6. Blog: Regency Skethes
  7. Blog: Brant Flakes
  8. Blog: Mesmered’s Blog
  9. Blog: The Heroine’s Bookshelf
  10. Blog: vvb32 reads
  11. Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
  12. Blog: ReginaJeffers’s Blog
  13. Blog: Alyssa Goodnight   
  14. Blog: Jane Austen in Vermont
  15. Blog: Jane Started It!
  16. Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner
  17. Blog: Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  18. Blog: The Jane Austen Film Club 
  19. Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane
  20. Blog: Kaitlin Saunders
  21. Blog: One Literature Nut
  22. Blog: Patrice Sarath
  23. Blog: Jane Austen Brasil
  24. Blog: Jane Austen Sequels 
  25. Blog: Stiletto Storytime
  26. Blog: Jennifer W. Becton
  27. Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont
  28. Blog: Pemberley Variations 
  29. Blog: AustenAuthors
  30. Blog: November’s Autumn
  31. Blog: My Jane Austen Book Club

Our Tribute to her Letters

Continue reading “Austenprose’s Jane Austen Birthday Soiree – December 16, 2011 – with tons of Giveaways!”

Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel Sense and Sensibility, it is a great pleasure to see a new sequel to it arrive from Pemberley Chronicles author Rebecca Ann Collins.

Please join us today in welcoming Rebecca Ann on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Expectations of Happiness published this month by Sourcebooks. Rebecca Ann has kindly shared with us some insights on creating the novel.

Thank you very much, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to contribute to your blog; it is a pleasure to be able to speak directly to you and your readers about my work and the new book – Expectations of Happiness.

You have asked why I chose to write a companion volume to Sense and Sensibility and how I managed to “get my head into the Regency period after writing The Pemberley Chronicles.

If I may answer your second question first – I had absolutely no difficulty with the Regency Period, which covers the latter part of Jane Austen’s life; I was familiar with the historical, social and cultural background of that era.

As a Jane Austen addict ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility when I was just twelve years old, and a student of both English Literature and History, I had read everything I could get my hands on about the author, her family, her life and times.   Her novels were published within the period of the Regency so it was inevitable that a passionate reader and student of Miss Austen’s work and the society in which she lived would absorb the events and ambiance of the era. Continue reading “Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!”

Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion Blog Tour with author Janet Mullany, & Giveaway!

Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, by Janet Mullany (2011)Just in time to get you into a Gothic mood this Halloween season, please join us today in welcoming author Janet Mullany on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, her second novel featuring Jane Austen as a vampire, published today by William Morrow.

Janet graciously offers us a sampling of her witty writing with a guest interview with the undead Jane Austen.

Austen: I believe you have done it once more, Mrs. Mullany.

Mullany: Yeah. I have. Sorry.

Austen: My sister is furious and my brothers talk of little but lawyers these days.

Mullany: Does Mrs. Austen have no say in the matter?

Austen: I regret my mother wishes only to know if you can spare a cutting of your red clematis and a root or two of lemon balm.

Mullany: Absolutely, although I should warn you that the lemon balm takes over. I very much admired the garden when I visited your house last year although I was disappointed that you were not at home. Please convey my regards to Mrs. Austen and tell her the lavender is doing very well although I am not confident it will survive the winter.

Austen: I am much obliged. I shall tell my mother so.

Mullany: But do you wish to sue me for libel? I really wouldn’t recommend it. My book may help sell more of yours, although I strongly recommend that you publish under your own name. “By A Lady” sounds so prissy. (Nervously) So, um, what did you think of the book?

Austen: It was tolerably well written and had a few moments of genuine wit although I cannot approve of the excessive sensuality; however one may behave between the sheets should not necessarily reflect on that which appears between the pages of a book. In all fairness, though, I have taken the liberty of borrowing a few of your ideas—the idea of the upstart newcomer forcing her neighbors into a music club is something that appeals to me, for instance. I am also considering another novel in which an aging woman meets her former lover.

Mullany: Absolutely. I’m glad you adopted my idea of two or three families in a village as a starting point for a novel. For the new one, you could even borrow my title if you like. I think “Persuasion” would be a wonderful name for a book. How is the current WIP going? Continue reading “Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion Blog Tour with author Janet Mullany, & Giveaway!”

Mr. Darcy’s Bite Blog Tour with author Mary Simonsen, & Giveaway

Mr Darcy's Bite, by Mary Simonsen (2011)Halloween season is upon us, and that includes paranormal novels arriving to get us in the mood for the spooky holiday. Please join us today in welcoming author Mary Simonsen on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Bite a new paranormal Pride and Prejudice-inspired story published on October 1, 2011, by Sourcebooks. Mary has kindly shared her insights into her inspiration and research for our readers.

Hi Laurel Ann. It’s always good to be back on Austenprose, but today is especially significant. Not only do I have a new release, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, but today is my birthday. It’s one of those big ones that end in a zero. I won’t say how old I am, but I’m reading Social Security brochures.

I thought I might begin by sharing an excerpt from the prologue of Mr. Darcy’s Bite: The story opens with fourteen-year-old Darcy being bitten by a wolf in the Black Forest:

William retreated, but from a distance, the wolf followed him. With his heart pounding in his chest, he finally reached the road and could see the men working on the carriage. Before going in search of his father, he took one last look down the road and saw the wolf standing in plain view. Because of the full moon, the road was lit up as if it were daytime, leaving the female lupine completely exposed. Without thinking, William waved to her, and it was only then that she returned to the woods. The only conclusion he could draw was that she had wanted to make sure he was safe. But what kind of wolf did that?

You asked me to write about my inspiration for penning a werewolf novel. I had two motivations. The first was that I wanted to write a short story for Halloween for a fanfiction site where I posted most of my stories, and it was appropriately titled “Mr. Darcy on the Eve of All Saints Day.” But the response was so great that I just kept writing. Before I knew it, my short story had become a full-length novel. It shows what a little encouragement can do.

My second motivation was to respond to another Darcy werewolf story. Although I applauded the author for creating a dark atmosphere, her Darcy and Elizabeth were not mine. In the first place, Darcy did not tell Elizabeth he was a werewolf before marrying her, and because of the threat of exposure, he had separated his bride from her family by bringing Elizabeth to a castle far, far away from Longbourn. In my mind, Darcy would not have done either of those things. So with a sword (actually computer) in hand, I set about righting the wrong. Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Bite Blog Tour with author Mary Simonsen, & Giveaway”

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