Hello Everyone! It’s Jane Austen’s birthday today and we’re (okay some of us) are celebrating Any excuse for chocolate cake and ice cream, right? This is The Delighted Reader’s second time inviting in a special guest on Jane’s birthday to talk about her legacy by one who has helped keep it vibrantly alive.
Mary Simonsen was a natural choice to be our guest. I was introduced to Mary – or at least her name- through her fantastic book, Searching For Pemberley, when it caught my eye at the bookstore a few years back. Since then, I’ve read several of her book offerings and found her to have a wry wit and personable voice as well as a good caretaker of historical romance in several eras. I love it that she is willing to chat and hang out with readers on Facebook or the two blogs where she contributes. I’ve had the opportunity to read and review about a dozen of her publications and have another ten or so on my TBR pile (I know people, don’t say it, I know… ‘The Pile’!). Her original characters- the delectable and unrepentant playboy aristocrat Anthony Fitzwilliam and tenacious, attractive detective Patrick O’Shea- are two of my favorite fictional heroes. I’m thrilled that Patrick’s series will continue on.
So without further rambling, let me turn it over to Mary! Welcome, lady! So delighted you could stop by.
Let me begin by thanking Sophia Rose for having me as a guest on The Delighted Reader. It is always a pleasure.
In honor of Jane Austen’s 239th birthday on December 16th, Sophia Rose asked me to write about Austen’s legacy. Even if you aren’t an Austen diehard fan, you probably have seen or read something inspired by a forty-something spinster who lived in rural Hampshire in the early 19th Century with her mother and sister. Have you seen Clueless or read Bridgit Jones’s Diary? Both are based on Austen novels, Emma and Pride and Prejudice, respectively. If you went to the movies to see Bride and Prejudice, you were watching Pride and Prejudice Indian style.
Jane’s opening sentence in Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous, and most easily adaptable, openings in all of literature: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” As a joke, and because I grew up in North Jersey, I was asked to write a Jersey version of Pride and Prejudice. This was my opening: “Everybody knows a single guy with a wad of cash needs a broad to spend his dough on. Need a ring? I know a guy.” (I was channeling Tony Soprano.) The Jersey Pride and Prejudice will never happen (and that’s probably a good thing), but it was fun working through the author’s most famous scenes in a Jersey accent.
In the past nine years, Jane Austen has inspired me to write a historical novel, ten re-imaginings based on Pride and Prejudice, one of which features Mr. Darcy as a werewolf, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, one of my personal favorites because it’s a story about love and acceptance. I also wrote a parody of Persuasion where Anne Elliot is a jogger, and that story is available at www.austenvariations.com under “Free Reads.”
Recently, I wrote a modern novel, Another Place in Time, where an Austen expert travels from 2012 Baltimore to 1812 London to help Mr. Darcy secure the hand of Elizabeth Bennet. It was a lot of fun because Darcy got to see modern America, and Christine O’Malley experienced the Regency Era first hand with all its warts. There is a love story between Christine and another famous P&P character. But if the two got together, would they live in modern America or 1812 England? I can tell you that as alluring as it is to picture yourself dancing in Regency Era gowns with men in tight breeches, I like flush toilets, deodorant, cell phones, and my Prius.
To mix it up a bit, three years ago, I wrote a novella, Three’s A Crowd, about Patrick Shea, a detective sergeant serving on the Metropolitan Police in London. It received such a warm reception that I wrote two more in the series: A Killing in Kensington and A Death in Hampden, where Patrick is now working at Scotland Yard. After completing the third novel, I realized that I wanted to stay with the Patrick Shea series and that I needed to say goodbye to Jane Austen. I decided to stage my fourth Patrick Shea mystery at a Jane Austen conference in the South of England where murder was done! Here is the blurb from the back jacket:
In need of a break from his job at Scotland Yard, Detective Sergeant Patrick Shea of London’s Metropolitan Police is looking forward to some quiet time at a timeshare in rural Devon in England’s West Country. However, when he arrives at The Woodlands, Patrick finds himself in the midst of a Jane Austen conference.
Despite Regency Era dresses, bonnets, and parasols, a deep divide exists between the Jane Austen fan-fiction community, those who enjoy expanding on the author’s work by writing sequels and re-imaginings, and the Janeites, those devotees who think anyone who tampers with the original novels is committing a sacrilege. When one of the conference speakers is found dead, Patrick is back on the job trying to find out who murdered her. Is it possible that the victim was actually killed because of a book?
Even though I will no longer be writing Jane Austen re-imaginings, it was a great nine years. I got to know Jane and her brilliant novels, and I became acquainted with a whole network of fellow Austenesque writers and fans, including Sophia Rose, who enriched the Austen experience for me.
To celebrate Jane’s birthday, I am hosting a giveaway of an e-book for Another Place in Time as well as Dying to Write. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on where you would go if you could travel through time and which book you would like to win. Thanks for your time. This was fun.
Thanks for stopping today, Mary! I love those movies you mentioned. Bride and Prejudice is awesome. Time for a re-watch.
Let’s talk Jane Austen, her books, movie adaptions and, for an opportunity to win one of Mary’s books, share where you would like to time travel.
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