My guest today is new-to-me Australia based author Narrelle Harris, who writes crime and paranormal stories in addition to romance and brand new adventures for Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I’m looking forward very much to getting to know her and her work.
She is here today in celebration of the recent release of A Certain Persuasion – an anthology of Jane Austen themed stories from Manifold Press.
Jane Austen’s grasp of the English language is justly celebrated. Is there any part that you can quote for us that you particularly relish?
I’ve always been amused/horrified by how much Mr and Mrs Bennett reminded me of my own parents, and the way Mr Bennett teased the missus before retiring to the library is a very elegant version of aspects of my childhood!
“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves.”
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least.”
“Ah, you do not know what I suffer.”
“But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood.”
“It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them.”
“Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all.”
What inspired your story in the A Certain Persuasion anthology?
I’d been reading some posts about bi erasure and when Julie sent the call out for submissions I thought it might work as a crux point for a retelling of Persuasion with a modern context.
May we have an excerpt?
“Come to my book group with me on Thursday, Coop,” Kate told her melancholy new flatmate.
Cooper sighed and shook his head, resisting the inevitable.
“C’mon,” she wheedled. “You’ve been lying around the flat like a depressed slug for eight weeks. So it didn’t work out with Ruby.”
“Or with Shen, or that boy with the mohawk,” she added, “or … Helena wasn’t it, before that, and Mandy? They were about the same time, anyway, and before that Isla, Poppy … ”
He grunted again. More of a snarl, really.
“Okay, so you’ve had a run of miserable luck. Shake it off. Read a book, eat something with vitamins in it, have a fucking bath, spritz up your sad hair and come out with me on Thursday. We’re reading Jane Austen this month.”
Cooper made a noise like it was the end of the world, and the end-times smelled like cheap dog food. “Aren’t you meant to make this sound appealing?”
“What’s not appealing about Austen, you cretin?”
“It’s all fucking bonnets and county balls.”
“Shows what you know,” Kate sneered back. “It’s all sass and snark, though I will admit there are bonnets. And you like balls, don’t you? As well as boobies?”
“Ha fucking ha.”
“No, really Coop. You smell like a school bathroom. Scrub up, pull on your glad rags and come to book club. You could meet a lovely girl. Or a lovely boy. With or without bonnets. Besides, if you don’t, I won’t have anyone to be my wingman at the club after. And I need a wingman.”
“You said I had a face like a wet week and to stay the hell away from you when you were on the pull.”
“That was last week. This week I need a wingman. So get up you lazy, mopey sod, and read this.” She tossed a pre-loved paperback at him, “And gird your loins for Captain Wentworth. He’s hot. Imagine Hugh Jackman in tight breeches.”
Cooper took up the copy of Persuasion and leafed through the first few pages. “All right,” he said, unenthusiastically, “I’ll come to your book group. I’ll even wash.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Kate, with a little air punch. She grinned, then sobered at Cooper’s frown. “Really, Coop,” she said, “it’ll be good.”
Cooper smiled at her, giving her some crumb of effort in exchange for hers.
His cousin patted his shoulder and it made him want to weep.
“Are you ever going to tell me what happened? I mean … you came back with one bloody suitcase, and Ruby sent four boxes over, and that was it. Most of your stuff was still here in your room. My spare room.” She shook her head. “Your room. You never really moved in with her, did you? That was the problem.”
Cooper looked at his feet. “It was a manifestation of the problem.”
“Want to talk about it?”
“Is it about what happened when you came out to your mum and dad?” Which was why Cooper now lived in Kate’s spare room on such a regular basis.
“Before then. But. I don’t want to talk about it. I messed up. I ran away because I was scared of losing everything, and lost it anyway when I stopped pretending I wasn’t bi. So.” He shrugged. “I’ll get over it.”
Kate stooped to kiss his forehead. “You’re a good guy, Coop. You’ve got a good heart, and a good brain. It’ll get better.”
He nodded and smiled, more successfully than last time.
He was better than he’d been after abandoning Archer. He was better than he’d been after his family abandoned him. It would get better again. Not as good as it had been with Archer, but better.
What are you working on at present?
I’m writing a short Holmes-and-Watson story for an Australian anthology, and following that up with a Holmes-and-Watson adventure and also a Holmes/Watson romance for Clan Destine Press. I’m also cowriting a modern-era Holmes/Watson romance for Improbable Press, so I have plenty to keep me working for a while!
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer of crime, horror, fantasy, romance, erotica and non-fiction. Her books include Fly By Night (nominated for a Ned Kelly Award for First Crime Novel), and fantasies Witch Honour and Witch Faith (both short-listed for the George Turner Prize).
In March 2012, her short story collection, Showtime, became the fifth of the 12 Planets series (released by World Fantasy Award-winning Twelfth Planet Press). Walking Shadows, the sequel to the Melbourne-based vampire novel The Opposite of Life, was released by Clan Destine Press in June 2012. Walking Shadows was nominated for the Chronos Awards for SF and fantasy, and shortlisted for the Davitt Awards for crime writing.
Narrelle also writes Sherlock Holmes adventures in Victorian-era and modern settings, with the first of these due out in late 2016.
In 2013, Narrelle also began writing short erotic romance, often combining romance with adventure/crime stories. Her first full-length romance, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy – a Holmes/Watson crime/romance set in Australia in 1893 – was published by Improbable Press in 2016. A queer paranormal romance novel and more short stories (both het and queer) are in the pipeline with Manifold Press, Clan Destine Press and Improbable Press. Find out more about Narrelle’s work at http://www.narrellemharris.com
A Certain Persuasion
from Manifold Press
Thirteen stories from eleven authors, exploring the world of Jane Austen and celebrating her influence on ours.
Being cousins-by-marriage doesn’t deter William Elliot from pursuing Richard Musgrove in Lyme; nor does it prevent Elinor Dashwood falling in love with Ada Ferrars. Surprises are in store for Emma Woodhouse while visiting Harriet Smith; for William Price mentoring a seaman on board the Thrush; and for Adam Otelian befriending his children’s governess, Miss Hay. Margaret Dashwood seeks an alternative to the happy marriages chosen by her sisters; and Susan Price ponders just such a possibility with Mrs Lynd. One Fitzwilliam Darcy is plagued by constant reports of convictions for ‘unnatural’ crimes; while another must work out how to secure the Pemberley inheritance for her family.
Meanwhile, a modern-day Darcy meets the enigmatic Lint on the edge of Pemberley Cliff; while another struggles to live up to wearing Colin Firth’s breeches on a celebrity dance show. Cooper is confronted by his lost love at a book club meeting in Melbourne while reading Persuasion; and Ashley finds more than he’d bargained for at the Jane Austen museum in Bath.
A Pemberley-sized anthology featuring authors: Julie Bozza, Andrea Demetrius, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Narrelle M Harris, Sandra Lindsey, Fae Mcloughlin, Atlin Merrick, JL Merrow and Eleanor Musgrove.