Please Help me welcome Laurel Ann Natress, who helped put together the anthology of Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I am proud to be apart of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Grand Blog Tour of the Blogosphere! Giveaway rules are at the end of the interview. My Review can be found here!
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
What motivated you to have an anthology of Jane Austen inspired book?
Why Jane Austen made me do it of course!
Seriously, I have been a Jane Austen enthusiast most of my life. After seeing the 1980 PBS/BBC Pride and Prejudice starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul, I read all of her novels and worshipped for years in silence. In the late 1990’s I discovered Jane Austen on the Internet at The Republic of Pemberley and connected with Janeites from all over the world. On a whim in 2007, I created my own blog Austenprose without any great aspirations beyond a creative outlet for my Jane Austen obsession. As I read many of the recent sequels and worked with the authors to promote their books, I noticed a thread that tied them all together. The authors were all so genteel and amiable. I wanted to work with them and thought that an Austen-inspired anthology was a great idea. It was something that I wanted to read, but would others? And, most importantly, however was I going to get it published?
Why do you think that Jane Austen is still so popular?
To answer you in a nutshell, for as many reasons as her appeal is to a diverse group of readers. She seems to touch people in different ways during different times in their lives. Renowned for her beautiful language, engaging plots and witty dialogue, I also appreciate her for her astute observations of human nature, and her dry humor. It is all very softly sold to the readers – tongue in cheek and hidden in between the lines. I often re-read one of the novels and catch something that I had missed or reinterpret it in a new light. From the outset readers will like her romantic plots, but there are also bits of social and political commentary slipped in. She seems to reach her audience in a way that many other classic authors only begin to touch. I don’t think there is another author that has so many movie adaptations or a whole book genre inspired by them. She is Incomparable.
Is there a Jane Austen character that is featured more prominently than another in the stories told in the book?
In creating the anthology, I pretty much gave the authors free reign on themes and era that they were inspired to write about. We hoped for a diversity so that it would appeal to a wider audience, so I just took the gamble, offered a bit of focus, and waited to see what would arrive. There were some re-writes, but overall, the authors really came through the first time with amazing stories. About half ended up historical fiction based on her characters or herself as a fictional character. The contemporary stories are the most creative. We do have Jane Austen as a ghost in “Nightmare at Northanger,” by Lauren Willig, and “The Ghostwriter,” by Elizabeth Aston, but, Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories are featured more prominently than any other. In “Faux Jane,” by F.J. Meier, a famous actress wants to buy a signed copy of P&P to impress her boyfriend, an English Lord, but any Janeite worth their salt knows there is no such thing; in “When Only a Darcy Will Do,” by Beth Pattillo, a young American in London gives Jane Austen tours to supplement her living when Mr. Darcy shows up in full Regency attire; “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again,” Alexandra Potter continues her story of Mr. Darcy advising a young 21st-century women on love; and in “Intolerable Stupidity,” by Laurie Viera Rigler, Mr. Darcy brings suit against all the authors and filmmakers who have used him as a character. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is of course the presiding judge in the case! As you can see, the authors had fun with Jane Austen as their witty muse.
How were the stories brought together to create the anthology?
I think you are asking how did my publishing deal happen? It is a one in a million story. My passion for Austen, connections with Austenesque authors, and the Fates all aligned one magical day in January 2010 when I was contacted by my yet to be literary agent to thank me for recent publicity I had done with his client on Austenprose. I had this idea of an Austen-inspired anthology rolling around in my head for years, so when I saw the opportunity to pitched my book idea, I wrote to him immediately. He was a Jane Austen fan too and loved it. Within a week, he had secured a publishing deal for me with Random House. It was surreal. Many authors struggle for years to be published and I sympathize with them acutely. I can honestly say that I had been working for decades toward this deal, I just didn’t know it until it happened.
What do you want readers to come away with after reading the different stories in the book?
Laughter. Romance. Escape. Jane Austen is an incredible writer. She has been inspiring authors for centuries. Our literary world would be so different without her. These stories are part of her legacy to us. Please enjoy them and then re-read your favorite Austen novel. No one does it better.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Thanks again Colette for inviting me to Buckeye Girl Reads during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by October 24, 20011 @ 11pm. Stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!