Give us five (5) interesting facts about yourself.
1. My jobs have included archaeologist and radio announcer
2. I drink more tea than anyone you know
3. I’m a volunteer docent at Riversdale House Museum, a federal-era house near Washington, DC
4. I make great bread
5. I love classical music
Jane Austen will forever be immortalized through her writing, what inspired you to make her an immortal in Jane and the Damned and Blood Persuasion?!
Money! No, really, it was my editor’s idea. I think she was looking for something along the lines of P&P and Zombies, and I wasn’t very keen on the idea until I brainstormed it with my brother who suggested the title “Austen Powers.” I came up with the craziest idea I could and ran with it.
What was your favorite scene or chapter to write in Blood Persuasion?
Other than the end—this was a very hard book for me to write—I think my favorite scene is when Luke, Jane’s former vampire lover, tries to seduce her. Actually he’s always trying to seduce her. He’s a vamp. He can’t help himself.
Do you feel the vampires in Blood Persuasion fit the usual cliché of the vampire legend we find in vampire novels?
One of the things I was determined to do with these books was to make the vampires, the Damned, true to their time. I picked and chose among vampire lore—I think everyone does—and used only the vampire traits that were necessary for the plot.
Was it difficult to mix paranormal elements into your usual Regency/Victorian style of writing?
In both books I created an alternate history where the Damned are “out” and the darlings of fashionable society, and the plot of Jane and the Damned revolves around an imaginary French invasion. I had to invent terms that sounded right to me for the period. For instance, a vampire who takes on the training of a recently created vampire (a fledgling) is known as a Bearleader, the term given to the chaperones of young gentlemen taking the Grand Tour. The Damned don’t feed, they dine; and if they invite you to dinner you’ll be dessert! And fang displays are known as being “en sanglant” (a French term I invented). The book contains a glossary of terms and a short history of the Damned in England.
What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?
I was very intimidated about writing about Jane Austen, because she is a major and revered figure. There’s a huge body of scholarship focused on the most minute details of her life and when I included facts about her I wanted to get them right. But truth is stranger than fiction: for example, the vicar of Chawton in 1810 was blessed with the extremely silly name of Papillon and there was an Austen family joke that he and Jane were in love. And I think I explain in Jane and the Damned why Jane dedicated a book to the Prince Regent, and in Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion why her engagement in 1802 ended in less than 24 hours and why Mansfield Park is unlike her other books.
If you could go back in time and spend an entire day with Ms. Jane Austen, how would you spend the day and what would you ask her?
I’m sure we’d drink a lot of tea, work in the garden with her mother, and take a walk together. I’d ask her what was in the letters that her sister Cassandra destroyed (I suspect Jane was being snarky about the neighbors but who knows) and how she would have finished Sanditon.
Who is your favorite Austen heroine and why?
Anne Elliot in Persuasion. She’s learned some hard lessons and she has tremendous dignity and integrity.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
To End All Wars, by Adam Hochschild, about World War I. When I was growing up in England that was always the “great” war. People didn’t talk much about WW2, which I think was too close for comfort; or if they did they’d reminisce about what a great time was had in the air raid shelters etc.
How many books should we expect in your Immortal Jane Austen series?
Just the two! But if you’re interested in my take(s) on Austen, the mass market edition of Bespelling Jane Austen, is out this month. It’s an anthology headlined by Mary Balogh, with Susan Krinard, Colleen Gleason, and me writing paranormal versions of Austen’s books. Mine is based on Emma. I’m also a contributor to an anthology of short stories out this month, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Just for fun:
Vampires or werewolves? Vampires. They’re housetrained.
Morning person or night owl? Night owl by inclination, morning person by necessity.
You’re stranded on a deserted island and can pick one book and one person to spend the time with. Which book do you choose and who would you want for company? The complete works of Austen in one volume (cheating, but I own one!) and someone who’s better with their hands than I am.
What’s your current guilty pleasure? Free kindle books on amazon.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the fall? Tread on acorns. I find it very satisfying.
Thanks for stopping by and chatting with me today Janet and congrats on the new release!
About the Author:
Thank you for the awesome interview and giveaway! I love signed copies! I am with you on the vampires. I would hate to house train again! 😉
mary_reiss @ hotmail.com
Hi Mary, thanks for your comment and tweets and good luck! I think vamps might require a different sort of housetraining. I won’t say I’d never consider a book with werewolves because generally that sort of comment comes back to haunt me, but big, hairy, and slobbery is bad enough on two legs…
I love your twists on the typical vampire fare. Love the term en sanglent for extended fangs and I almost died laughing when you mentioned that they don’t feed, they dine! How very civilized!
Love your idea of Jane as a person having to deal with vampires and dark folk in her daily life, and the hunky lover (he is, isn’t he? LOL) that never goes away. Very cool!
And…thanks for the bit re treading on acorns. I hear ya, Girl!!
@Kaige, the Damned are oh so sophisticated (and very snobbish!), and are obsessive about manners and protocol.
@Susan, I love the idea of the dark side creeping into everyday life. I think it’s one of the great innovations that J.K. Rowling made with her parallel wizards and Muggle worlds.
Sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway!