In marketing, a brand name can take you a long way, and there is no stronger brand in romance than Jane Austen. Her wit and sharp but compassionate characterizations and social commentary have never gone out of style. Her stories have been filmed again and again, and there have been an incredible variety of spin-off pastiches.
have paranormal fun with Jane. They are visiting the Wenches today (particularly Janet, who is a member of my local RWA chapter) to talk about their stories and how Jane Austen might feel about them!
For this visit to the Word Wenches, I decided to cut right to the chase:
“Would Jane Austen forgive the liberties you've taken with her?” <G>
Jane Austen not only had a great sense of humor, but she also had a fine sense of the absurd. Think of Mr. Collins as a perfect example. I think if she were living today she might well get a chuckle out of finding her stories being so irreverently (but very affectionately!) used as a jumping off ground for wild tales of vampires and reincarnated lovers and the like. I know I would if anyone should ever try doing something similar with my books.
And that for me is the ultimate test. Would I mind if it happened to me? Since the answer is definitely no, I can only assume and hope that Jane Austen would not find our stories disrespectful. Please, Jane, don't turn over in your grave. One or four of us might just have to write a story about it...
Consider that if Austen did mind and was around to do something about it she’d have her revenge on all four of us in the most devastatingly elegant and merciless satire. I hope she’d admire our humor and our inventiveness in analysis and reconstruction of her books into shorter works.
For instance, the episode of Mr. Elton and the picture of Harriet, which takes up several chapters in Emma, I interpreted as a photo on his cell phone; the gift of the piano to Jane Fairfax is the gift of a car, something extravagant and not altogether suitable for someone living in a historic area with cobbled streets. Austen might object to us not including enough of her originals and not going far enough with it—she was a woman who wasn’t afraid of a literary challenge.
Jane would, I think, very much enjoy the liberties I took with Northanger Abbey for my own version simply because her version was a take-off on the very popular "horrid" novels of the time. She obviously had a sense of humor, and I like to think that she would have liked the wink-wink-nudge-nudge I tried to incorporate into “Northanger Castle.”
In her book, Catherine Morland is terribly wrong about certain things, and she is mortified when her overactive imagination gets her in trouble. In my version, Caroline Merrill has her own embarrassing moments, but they aren't quite as tenuous as Catherine's. Plus, I think Jane would have loved Lord Rude. ;-)
Yes, I think she would. Jane Austen was ahead of her time in writing a story that gently mocked social conventions but also wrote books that were enjoyable purely as fiction. We, as romance writers, are doing much the same thing by couching the language of modern life in stories readers can relate to. I'm sure Jane had plenty of imagination, and would have appreciated the tribute of other writers.
So there you are! Riffs on Jane Austen by four authors who love, admire, and know her work.
A free copy of Bespelling Jane Austen will be given to one commenter between now and midnight Tuesday.