Many thanks to blog mistresses: Alex, Kelly, Ana and Marg, for hosting me today at Historical Tapestry on my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I am so looking forward to your daily posts in its honor during Jane Austen Week, here, October 10-16, 2011.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It contains twenty-two original stories inspired by my favorite author. As the editor, I was responsible for selecting and inviting all of the authors to contribute to the anthology. We were shooting for twenty stories at about 5,000 words each and wanted a variety from all genres. My only request was that they “stay within the theme of exploring Austen’s philosophies of life and love by reacquainting readers with characters from her novels or introducing original stories inspired by her ideals.” Interestingly, just about half of the stories turned out to be set in the Regency-era. They seem to fall into three categories: 1.) Jane Austen as a character, 2.) stories about her characters, and 3.) stories about her family. Here is a preview of the historical stories in the anthology:
“Jane Austen’s Nightmare,” by Syrie James
On a foggy day in Bath, all of Jane Austen’s heroines, and a compendium of other characters from her novels, meet their creator to discuss or complain about the way they were portrayed, a distressing but ultimately illuminating experience which inspires her to write Persuasion.
“Waiting: A story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion,” by Jane Odiwe
Captain Wentworth and his beloved Anne Elliot have been waiting almost nine years to marry. As they await her father’s blessing, they look back on the beginnings of their relationship.
“Jane and the Gentleman Rogue: Being a fragment of a Jane Austen Mystery,” by Stephanie Barron
The Gentle Rogue returns! Lord Harold Trowbridge: confidant of the Government, Rake about Town, and spy, must unmask a French Adventuress and her traitorous paramour leading to an unexpected meeting at dawn. Only Jane’s wit stands between England and disaster.
“Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land, by Monica Fairview
In this amusing continuation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, the day has arrived for the married Emma and Mr. Knightley to move into Hartfield, upsetting the measured life of Emma’s valetudinarian father, dear Mr. Woodhouse. When even Mr. Knightley’s patience is tested, Emma must use all of her “imaginist” skills toward a happy resolution for all.
“Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss,” by Jo Beverley
A widow and her three young daughters must cope with reduced circumstances after the death of her husband and removal to a small cottage near Chawton. When their neighbor Jane Austen shares the holiday tale of the “mistletoe kiss,” a romance ensues that will change their lives in an unexpected way.
“Heard of You,” by Margaret C. Sullivan
In Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, Captain Wentworth’s elder sister Sophie Croft is instrumental in advising him on his own happiness. Discovery her brother’s earlier role in her own marriage to Admiral Croft, in this enchanting tale of the Royal Navy and the value of a female correspondent.
“Mr. Bennet Meets His Match,” by Amanda Grange
Poor Mrs. Bennet! In Pride and Prejudice her husband is not very tolerant of her nervous flutterings and spasms! They seem such a mismatched couple until we learn of their original romance in this enlightening tale of the strength of fear as a strong motivator to marriage.
“Letters to Lydia,” by Maya Slater
Maria Lucas may have been a minor character in Pride and Prejudice, but she is silent witness to some of the most eye opening events in Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s relationship. Learn the inside gossip, or is it fact, from the horse’s mouth as she writes to her dear friend Lydia Bennet from Hunsford Parsonage.
“Jane Austen’s Cat,” by Diana Birchall
Jane Austen’s nieces remember the wonderful fairy tales she would tell them when they were children. Capturing her playful spirit, here is one of delightful stories that she entertained them with relaying “cat tails” as they were told on one level for children, and as stories based on her novels, and on her own life.
“The Riding Habit,” by Pamela Aidan
Negotiating London Society has been a challenge that the newly married Elizabeth Darcy faced and conquered. Why then, must her beloved Fitzwilliam insist she learn to ride a horse now before the eyes of them all?
“The Chase,” by Carrie Bebris
Jane Austen’s elder brother Francis Austen served in the Royal Navy eventually rising to its highest position, Admiral of the Fleet. This story depicts true events in a March 1800 action off Marseilles, so amazing it could be from a Horatio Hornblower novel, earning him promotion to post-captain and the respect and renowned of all who served during the Age of Sail.
It was a pleasure to work with so many fabulous authors on this project. Thanks again ladies of Historical Tapestry for letting me share my excitement and pride in all the great historical stories in this collection!
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.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966
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 19, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced October 20. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!