Please join us today in welcoming author Shannon Winslow on her blog tour in celebration of the publication of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, released last month by Heather Ridge Arts. Shannon has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second novel and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.
Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me back for another visit with all your lovely readers at Austenprose. I’m delighted for the opportunity to announce the debut of my second Austen-esque novel, For Myself Alone, and to share my inspiration for writing it.
First, I should say that I might never have authored one word were it not for Jane Austen and my desire to spend more time in her world. I adore her subtle stories of love triumphant, and her witty, elegant prose suits my taste exactly. I longed for more, though, and so decided to write the sequel to Pride and Prejudice that I envisioned. I had the time of my life creating The Darcys of Pemberley, and I was totally hooked on writing after that.
On to the next challenge! Not a sequel or tie-in this time, but a new story – one I imagined Miss Austen might have written next. But what would that have been? Well, she was very progressive for her time and would, I believed, have looked for a new angle or a different way of telling a story. So I didn’t feel forced to confine myself to ground she’d covered before. How about giving the heroine a lot of money for a change? And the problems that come with it? That opened up all kinds of possibilities!
Set in nineteenth century Hampshire and Bath, For Myself Alone is the tale of Josephine Walker, a bright, young woman whose quiet life is turned upside-down by an unexpected inheritance. With a tempting fortune of twenty thousand pounds, she’s suddenly the most popular girl in town. Yet Jo longs to be valued for who she is, not for her bank balance. She cannot respect the men who pursue her for her money, and the only one she does admire is considered the rightful property of her best friend.
A sojourn in Bath, for treatment of her father’s gout, gives Jo a chance for a fresh start in a place where no one will know about her monetary attractions. But, as you might guess, even there the path to true love and a Jane-Austen-style happy ending does not run smoothly.
When I began For Myself Alone, I didn’t have in mind any direct reference to Jane Austen’s existing work, only a compliment to her style. With her words so deeply entrenched in my mind, however, I often found myself thinking of and alluding to various passages from her books as I went along. Rather than fight the temptation to borrow some of her expertly turned phrases, I decided to go with it, making kind of a game out of tucking these little gems between the pages for Austen aficionados to find. What fun!
Jo parrots Marianne Dashwood’s immortal words, “Will you not shake hands with me?” saying them to boy-next-door Arthur Evensong instead of the attractive but dangerous Willoughby. And in another place she asks her father about his gout, saying, “Is there nothing you can take to give you present relief?” You get the idea.
This wouldn’t work if my own writing style was too modern or different from the original, making the insertion painfully obvious and interrupting the flow of the story. But I flatter myself (as Mr. Collins would say) that I have enough flare for Austen-style language to allow the borrowed lines to blend fairly seamlessly in with my own. Here’s a sample from the prologue. Be sure to read it with your best British accent!
Mr. Pigeon recapitulated the account to his wife. “They say the mother is to blame. But mark my words, Agatha, it is the money at the heart of the matter,” he concluded with irrefutable sagacity. “By heaven! A woman should never be trusted with money. No doubt it has completely gone to her head. She would have done much better never to have been given it the first place. Bad judgment on the part of the uncle; bad judgment indeed.”
This excerpt features a rather obscure reference from The Watsons fragment, making it more difficult to detect. But could you tell what part was Jane Austen’s and what was mine? Hope not.
All this goes to illustrate my purpose in writing For Myself Alone, which was to give the reader an experience much like reading a brand new – or possibly long lost and just rediscovered? – Jane Austen novel. How close I came to achieving that goal, you will have to be the judge.
Author Bio: Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.
In addition to three short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has published two novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, now follows. She is currently working on the next installment of her Pride and Prejudice series entitled Return to Longbourn.
Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier. Visit Shannon at her website/blog Shannon Winslow’s Jane Austen Says, follow her on Twitter as @JaneAustenSays, and on Facebook as Shannon Winslow.
Giveaway of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel
Enter a chance to win one of three copies (print or eBook) available of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading this new Jane Austen-inspired novel by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 02, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 03, 2012. Shipment of print copies to US addresses only, eBook internationally. Good luck!
Many thanks to Shannon for her delightful guest blog, and to her publisher Heather Ridge Arts for the generous giveaways. We must chime in and reveal that Shannon is also a talented artist and created the image for her book cover. Brava!
For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2012)
Trade paperback (262) pages
© 2007 – 2012 Shannon Winslow, Austenprose