Author Rebekah Jones – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

Author Rebekah Jones has been a bit of a hero to the Vintage Jane Austen project. Rebekah-Author-Picture-2017-200x300Another 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.

RebekahIs 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.

Author Kelsey Bryant – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

Today we have author Kelsey Bryant who took on Sense and Sensibility for the Vintage kelsey1Jane Austen Series and gave us the delightful Suite and Suitability. It’s been great getting to know Kelsey, who is probably Eleanor Dashwood’s biggest fan. In addition to the Vintage Jane Austen Project, she has written for several magazines, blogs, and has two contemporary novels on the market.

How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?

One day, Hannah Scheele and Sarah Holman were talking and somehow formed the scheme for the Vintage Jane Austen Project. Knowing me well, they asked if I wanted to write one of the books. I have hardly ever felt more excited to say yes!

How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?

A very big one, but not the sort who eats, sleeps, and breathes her. I haven’t made a fan website, nor can I quote from her novels very accurately. She is one of my two favorite authors, however, so although I know she’s not a perfect writer, I still feel a little defensive every time she’s criticized. I think I’ve read everything she’s written that’s been published. I own a fair collection of Austen memorabilia and I traveled on an England tour three years ago that was themed around Regency costumes. I sewed my own dress (a first) for it and participated in the Jane Austen Festival Promenade in Bath, England, and it was one of the best days of my life . . . so, yes, I suppose I am a pretty thick Janeite, aren’t I?

KelseyIs there a reason you chose Sense and Sensibility to translate into the 1930s?

Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Austen novel, and one of my favorite novels in general. I adored the idea of writing my own version of it because I’m extremely fond of all the characters and their dynamics, especially Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and Edward Ferrars. Elinor is my favorite fictional character in all of literature.

How well do you think Sense and Sensibility translates to the Great Depression?

Very well indeed. I had no problems with it. Elinor became Ellen Dashiell, a precise, hard-working secretary; Marianne became Marion Dashiell, an aspiring singer/actress; all the other characters translated fluently as well. The Dashwoods’ money troubles fit into the Great Depression, as did the issues of class and suitable marriage partners. I was surprised and delighted with how seamlessly it could be adapted.

What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Because I wanted a Midwestern industrial town, I settled on Canton, Ohio, and researched its status in the 1930s. My favorite book on the subject is The Secret Gift by Ted Gup, a fascinating, nostalgic true story that anyone might enjoy reading, not just those who are researching the time period. I visited Canton to do onsite research and look for answers to questions I couldn’t find from afar. I also read books about the decade in general. Then I pursued the other special areas of interest that my story possessed – Broadway, Hollywood, New York, industry, et cetera – as I began to write. Watching period movies and reading fiction of the era was certainly a fun way to get a feel for it.

Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?

I deviated while keeping true to the spirit and skeleton of the original. My brain needed the stimulation of creating slight differences in the story, not just remaking the original with new hair and clothes. I left out some characters and introduced new ones that better served my version. I changed the family relationships of some of the characters: for example, Sir John Middleton and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, became the married couple Melvin and Jennie Maddox, who were relatives of Mr. Dashiell’s in my version, not Mrs. Dashwood’s, as in the original. I also added a few twists to further change it up and make it more fun for me to write and more unexpected for readers. The biggest, perhaps, was keeping Mr. Dashiell alive but in prison instead of killing him off like Mr. Dashwood.

What did you find most challenging about this project?

Well, besides the normal frustrations of tying up all the threads and actually weaving Suit and Suitability into a cohesive, satisfying novel, I would say Marion’s character was the most challenging. Which is quite appropriate, as she is the most challenging person that her family knows, too. I wanted her to be liked by at least some readers, but I also didn’t want to diminish her personality. Writing her was a tricky balancing act. Also, some of her interests, such as the way Broadway worked in the 1930s, were rather difficult to ferret out details for accurate portrayal. But she and I made it through okay, and I love her as much as I love Ellen, even if I still don’t relate to her as well.

What other books do you have on the market? Currently, two novels targeted for homeschool girls – Family Reunion and England Adventure, books one and two of the Six Cousins series.

Thanks, Kelsey, for joining us today! Check out Kelsey’s website kelseybryanauthor.weebly.com to learn more about her writing! And for more information on the complete Vintage Jane Austen Series, visit vintagejaneausten.com.

Author Sarah Holman – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

I’m happy today to be interviewing Sarah Holman today, author of the first book in the Vintagesarahholman2-202x300 Jane Austen Series, Emmeline (Emma), as well several other novels and short stories. Sarah also runs the blog Homeschooled Authors which helps to promote independent authors with a homeschool background. One of the originator of the project, she is passionate about writing, literature, and, of course, Emma.

How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?

I was talking with a friend about a fairytale short story collection. We liked the concept, but wanted something other than fairytales. She mentioned Jane Austen and that was all I needed. Kelsey Bryant, Hannah Scheele, and myself met up one day and brainstormed the idea. It was an awesome beginning to this very cool project.

How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?

I love Jane Austen, but I’m far from the biggest fan. I have only read three of her books (though I love the long movies) and there are a couple of her stories I don’t care for. However, She has a talent for crafting characters in all her books that blows me away at times.

Is there a reason you choose Emma to translate into the 1930s?

Firstly, this is my favorite Jane Austen novel. It has so many awesome elements in it, my favorite being Mr. Knightly and Emma’s relationship. They are best of friend that both encourage and scold each other. It is so lifelike and enjoyable.

How well do you think Emma translates to the Great Depression?

I honestly felt like my job was easy. In the original story has some people who are struggling financially. The characters and struggles ended up flowing easily into the time period.  About the hardest thing was finding replacements for the balls, as dances were not the same.

What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I read quite a few books on and written during the 1930’s. My favorite resource were books by Grace Livingston Hill. She wrote during this time and captured the emotions, culture, and feel of the time that you can’t find in a textbook. She also gave me great insights into the Christians of the time as well.

Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?

I added my own touches and twists to be sure, but I tried to stick close to the original story. After all, I wouldn’t want to mess up Jane Austen.

What did you find most challenging about this project?

It was my first time coordinating with others in my writing. Everyone involved has been amazing, but I have learned a lot and some aspects were challenging.

What other books do you have on the market?

Emmeline is one of ten books I have on the market. I have an book sent during the revolutionary war, two in an FBI series, four in a Medieval series, and a sci-fi trilogy. I also have several short stories.

A big thanks to Sarah for joining me today and for coming up with this project in the first place! If you would like to learn more about Sarah’s work, visit her website: www.thedestinyofone.com or check out the rest of the books in the Vintage Jane Austen series at vintagejaneausten.com.

Next week I will have author Kelsey Bryant with me to talk about transforming Sense and Sensibility.

The Particulars and Perils of Writing (and Reading) Fan Fiction

Fan fiction: A story written by a fan based upon the work or life of the author they are fanatical about. (Example: Pride and Prejudice retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view or Pride and Prejudice set in modern day.)

Are you a fan of fan fiction? I have to say, I’ve fallen in love with many books from this sub-genre and dabble here and there in writing it. But after reading a stack of fan fiction books, there are some particular pointers that I have picked up, as both a writer and a reader.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
It’s all well and dandy to want to write a book based on your favorite author, but before you start to plot, check on the copyrights. Even some classics are not yet considered public domain. For instance, all but 10 Sherlock Holmes stories are public domain. So make sure you’re not rewriting one of those 10!

DON’T JUST REWRITE THE STORY
This problem occurs in the case of changing the point of view or moving the story to a different era. If you are retelling a story from another character’s POV, don’t just tell the story exactly the same, event by event, with a little change in the emotional response. Give your reader new events, new details and new characters mixed in with the classics. For instances, in Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy, we get to know everything Darcy did when he wasn’t showing up next to Elizabeth as well as some additional historical details.
The same applies for changing the setting for a novel. So you’ve moved Cinderella into a dystopia setting. Great. It doesn’t necessarily follow that you should still have a pumpkin turn into a carriage or even a literal glass slipper. In fact, you might want to forget literal all together. Reimagine each event in the story to suit the actual setting.

READ WHAT YOU WRITE
At the very least, be aware of the other types of fan fiction in your genre on the market. Don’t just automatically ignore the fact that someone might have already come up with your idea. Find a way to make yours different.

PLEASE, DON’T DESTORY IT (The Reader’s POV)
A new twist on an old story? Great. The true story behind the story? Love it. Turning a classic novel into an steamy erotic book or a nasty horror show?…You’re kidding me, right?
This is me, as a reader, speaking to both writers and readers new to this scene who might not know how far some people take it. As I lover of Jane Austen, who was obviously a moralist, I don’t want read about the Darcy’s sex lives or contemplate chopping Ms. Lucas’s head off. I also don’t like it when writers take real people who from historical account were good, for instance Jane’s brothers, and turn them into adulterers and murders just to make her life into a cool mystery novel.
In other words, dear readers, always read the reviews.

That’s my take on fan fiction. What’s yours? Any you can recommend to me?

If you want some good stories to start with, definitely try the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy, Debra White Smith’s Austen Series (modernization), or Anthony Horowitz’s new Sherlock, The House of Silk (it gets a little lost in the middle, but it begins and ends with a true Sherlockian style).