Author Rebekah Jones has been a bit of a hero to the Vintage Jane Austen project. Another author originally signed up to pen a new spin on Pride and Prejudice, but bowed out several months later. We couldn’t have a Jane Austen series without Pride and Prejudice! Thankfully, Rebekah, who already has five books to her name, graciously stepped in and took on the project, even though she was several months behind. We are all very excited about the forthcoming Presumption and Partiality and I’m so glad she could join us here today!
How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?
Sarah Holman wrote me, asking if I would be interested in rewriting Pride and Prejudice in the 1930’s for the Vintage Jane Austen Collection. I wasn’t sure at first – in a lot of ways, it would be a new challenge in writing for me – but the idea struck me as being a fascinating experience and a lot of fun, so I said that I would.
How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?
Moderate? I own all of her books and I’ve seen multiple versions of most of the novels put to film. (Even Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson doing their Victorian Era version of Pride and Prejudice and Bollywood making the same story an Indian style musical!) I don’t obsess over Jane Austen in any way, although I’m determined to have a Regency wardrobe one of these days. I admire her literary skill, enjoy her characters (Fanny Price has always been my favorite), and enjoy pulling Biblical principles from her stories.
Is there a reason you choose Pride and Prejudice to translate into the 1930s?
Actually, I didn’t choose it. Pride and Prejudice was the only novel left in the collection that wasn’t already being written. When Sarah asked me to join the group, she specifically asked if I would write Pride and Prejudice. Honestly, it was the most perfect one for me to write! Despite Mansfield Park being my favorite, I know Pride and Prejudice backwards, forwards, and topsy-turvy, since it’s the one I’ve seen and read the most.
How well do you think Pride and Prejudice translates to the Great Depression?
Oh, it depends. Some parts translate so perfectly, that it’s fascinating. Others have to be changed and I need to get creative. The underlying characters and the motivation for their actions are, for the most part, so timeless that sometimes all I have to do is come up with a different outplay of those motives. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Jane Austen’s Regency England was affluent and even the poor shown are fairly well off, whereas my Great Depression Arizona is already suffering the ravages of poverty and suffering.
What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?
Lots and lots of books. I read up on Arizona in the entire decade of the 1930’s for weeks. Then, when I decided on writing in the years 1932-1933, I started looking for materials that were more specific to those years. I did some on the ground research exploring, since I chose to use real towns, instead of fictional ones. Then, I read some more, looked up as many pictures as I could find of Gilbert, Phoenix, and Scottsdale in the 1930’s, and read even more. I also read a few fiction books, trying to get a feel for dialogue, as well as pulling out some old movies. Possibly one of the more fun resources I found were the records of the Weather Bureau for the area that I was focusing on, in my exact years. Those proved fascinating and very helpful.
Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?
I think, at its core, Presumption and Partiality has remained close to the source material, but I certainly found scenes to add, as well as a surprise twist or two. The poverty of the Great Depression has influenced some of those changes, since as I said earlier, it made a huge impact on my research. Further, as my general writing motto is “Bible Centered, Modern Literature” I wanted to be able to show the Biblical motivations or answers to some of the circumstances and people in the book, which has made this an interesting journey.
What did you find most challenging about this project?
Honestly? Writing the actual words has been the most challenging part of this project. Especially, writing while trying not to compare myself to Jane Austen. Writing this book has been a major challenge. A good one, but still a major challenge.
What other books do you have on the market?
I have five other books on the market. My novels: Grandmother’s Letters a treasure hunt mystery, Journeys of Four a tale of mystery and redemption, and 24 Days Before Christmas a Christmas murder mystery with each chapter being written as a day in December leading up to Christmas Day. I also have two children’s books, A Year with the Potters a collection of short stories about a homeschooling family and A Tale of the Say’s Phoebe a story of a mother bird telling her young how she learned to fly.
Thanks again, Rebekah, for joining this project and joining us today!
Please check out Rebekah’s books and blog at rebekahsquill.com.