Jane Goes Batty: A Novel, by Michael Thomas Ford – A Review

Jane Goes Batty: A Novel, by Michael Thomas Ford (2011)Our Janeite sensibilities tell us that the notion of Jane Austen as a vampire is pretty wacky. It’s just so hard to visualize “our” Jane as one of the undead, still here after two hundred years, and struggling with life challenges and her condition. Author Michael Thomas Ford understands this too. He has created a trilogy based on our uncertainty, curiosity, and proclivity for the burlesque that Austen herself was so fond of. Book one, Jane Bites Back, sold us on the concept that anything can happen in a Jane Austen inspired novel – even Jane as a vampire. It was “light, campy and a bit Buffyish” and we were truly “glamored.” But as any vampire aficionado knows, to be “glamored” means to be under the vampire’s mind spell which does not last forever. After over a year shouldn’t it have worn off, returning us to our cynical, defensive Janeite self? Book two, Jane Goes Batty, would have to be pretty darn good to dispel our doubts and resurrect our confidence. Our fingers were crossed, along with our corset strings.

Our twenty-first century Jane is still undead and living in Brakeston, a small university town in upper state New York. The success of her novel Constance has changed her life considerably. In 1796 she may have wished to “write for Fame, and without any view for pecuniary emolument,” but now she Continue reading “Jane Goes Batty: A Novel, by Michael Thomas Ford – A Review”

A Bookselling Moment with Jane Bites Back

After years as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble, very, very little surprises me. Working with the public has its charms and delights *cough* but for the most part 99% of my customers are fabulous, very appreciative of my help and excited about the inventory that is stocked in my store. Every bookseller has a favorite story to tell about the most outrageous request for a book or the kid that threw up on them. (My recent customer from hell was an indignant woman who expected me to be able to find a new release with feet binding in the story, but did not know the title, author or if it was fiction or nonfiction.) Last week one of my assistant managers found a pair of men’s underwear draped over the SAT books. Not sure if this was a personal statement about our educational system or a performance art project gone awry, but we all looked at her in horror as she stuffed the tighty whities in the trash. They were definitely not going in the lost and found! 

To be a great bookseller you need to know a little about everything and hopefully a lot about a few things. Most of the staff know that I am a Jane Austen enthusiast and enjoy channeling customers my way with the most obscure Austen book questions like, “Do you know that book with Mr. Darcy in the title?” or “I need Pride and Pestilence by Jane Eyre.”  One of my favorite stories to tell happened two years ago when The Complete Jane Austen was airing on Masterpiece Classic. I wrote about it at the time and you can read the story again here. (it is at the bottom of the post) But tonight, I had another Austen moment at work that just might surpass it.

A gentleman who looked to be in his sixties asked me where the romance novels were. I escorted him to the section and offered help which he declined. Usually, I do not have a lot of male customers asking for romance titles unless they have a list from their wife or girlfriend. I know that may sound like stereotyping, but when it comes to book buying, people’s taste and interests can often be pigeonholed that way. A few moments later the gentleman re-appeared at the information desk and asked me who the author  of Jane Bites Back was? (the new paranormal Jane Austen novel) Having just read and reviewed it myself, I was able to tell him right off the top of my head that the author was Michael Thomas Ford. 

Impressed with my authority and confidence in the book, he shared that it was the funniest book he had read in years and wanted to read the next one. I hesitated to reply. I knew the answer was that it had not yet been published but was so taken aback with his choice in reading that I stared at him blankly until I could regain my composure, all the while secretly smiling and thinking to myself, boy, you just can’t judge a book by its cover. I would never have pegged him as a Jane Austen is a vampire novel reader. When I told him that the first book had just been published two weeks ago and that he might have to wait another year for the second in the series, his face fell. “Another year?” he replied. “Jane deserves better.” 

So, Michael Thomas Ford. You better sharpen your quill and get crackin. Your public awaits.


Jane Austen Goes Paranormal – Author Janet Mullany Chats about Austen and Vampires

Mr. Darcy and the vampire

The world has truly gone vampire crazy! Blame it on the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series which made hearts and flowers all over a genre which had traditionally been more bloody and less appealing to tweenage girls, and *ahem* ladies. Her aloof and pensive vegetarian vampire Edward Cullen may make hearts swoon by the thousands, but Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has been doing the broody heartthrob thing long before Edward became an immortal, and he didn’t have to suck any blood to do it!

It was only a matter of time before the two genres collided and vampires invaded Jane Austen’s genteel world (or, had they always been there?). Besides fan fiction that has been around the net for years, the announcement last year of Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford is officially the beginning of the Austen vampire genre. As a bookseller and Austen enthusiast, all this genre-bending amuses me exceedingly. When Jane Austen Today reported on The Immortal Jane a new series of vampire-themed Austen inspired books in the queue, I was intrigued. Here we go, I said to myself! This latest paranormal offering is by Austen-esque author Janet Mullany. Her cheeky, sexy Rules of Gentility proved she could write about the Regency era with aplomb. It’s a good beginning. She has kindly joined us today to chat about not only The Immortal Jane series but a second Austen paranormal novella in the works!

I have a new two-book contract with HarperCollins, starring Jane Austen. May Chen, my editor on The Rules of Gentility, asked if I could come up with an idea for something paranormal about Austen. So I said “Duh,” which is my usual writerly reaction, and went off to England to visit my aged father and did some thinking.

I’d been thinking for some time about why historical romance authors consider Jane Austen the granny of us all, and it’s because she is a master of subtext. The only way she could express sexual tension, because of her time and place in history, was by inference and subtle clues. It seems now the explicitness of historical romance means we have to find our own subtexts. (I should put in a plug here, so to speak, for the workshop Pam Rosenthal and I give, Writing the Hot Historical, which we’re giving at RWA Nationals, where we talk about this sort of stuff, and I urge everyone not to use the term pebbled nub and to read Mansfield Park.) So, I discovered another subtext throughout Austen — vampires.

I admit this probably couldn’t have come about before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But I realized that there are characters in Austen’s novels who are clearly vampires –Willoughby, the Crawford’s and Wickham. They exploit and feed off others, they’re amoral and handsome and they wreak havoc. So obviously Austen knew about vampires as well as sex. In my world, vampires = the ton. I absolutely admit that I came up with the most outrageous idea I could and ran with it.

In The Immortal Jane (working title) she joins forces with vampires to battle the invading French while she’s in Bath to take the waters. It will come out in the summer of 2010, so I’ll be very busy. The second one is ink on the contract and a twinkle in my eye.

Also in 2010, October from Harlequin, I have another Austen exploration, a novella in an anthology tentatively titled Bespelling Jane, the brainchild of Susan Krinard, who persuaded Mary Balogh to make her paranormal debut as our headliner along with Colleen Gleason, author of the Gardella vampire hunters. We each took an Austen novel (Mary’s is Persuasion, Susan’s Pride & Prejudice, and Colleen chose Northanger Abbey); mine is Emma, my favorite Austen novel. It is a contemporary novella about a Washington DC dating agency catering to the paranormal population. Of course I was influenced by the Harry Potter books, where an alternate society of magicians exists side by side with the real Muggles world, so I have a witch on retainer to the White House, and all the lawyers are, of course, vampires. So are the cab drivers. Naiads and dryads populate the Tidal Basin and cherry trees. It was a lot of fun to write.

So, yes, I’m becoming known as that writer who does terrible things to poor dear Jane. My theory is that Austen is a big enough girl to survive whatever I or others do to her; in fact, I think she’d find the harrumphing that’s already begun online pretty funny. 

Thanks for joining us Janet. I look forward to reading your paranormal adventures with Jane Austen in Bath, and your contemporary retelling of Emma in the new anthology. Janet has just revealed her beautiful new website Janet Mullany: Where Wit and Passion Meet designed by Haven Rich at Enchanted Web Style. It is certainly eye candy.

Regency Print ca 1818 #1          Regency era Print ca 1818 #2

In celebration she is offering a contest with two prizes, antique prints from ca. 1818, which came from the Warwick Leadlay Gallery in Greenwich, London, specializing in maps and Nelson memorabilia. She tells me that the prints look far better in real life than they do as illustrated here, with exquisite detail and color. The contest ends August 1st so don’t delay. The immortal Jane is watching!

Author Janet MullanyAbout the author: Janet Mullany was raised in England on a diet of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, and now lives near Washington, D.C. She’s worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, performing arts publicist, copyeditor, and bookseller. Her first book, Dedication, won the 2006 Golden Leaf for Best Regency, as well as other awards.

You can find Janet Mullany on Twitter, every Thursday at Risky Regencies, and occasionally at History Hoydens.

Janet Mullany Banner

© 2009, Janet Mullaney & Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: