My guest today is an author whose work I adore, and she also gives some of the best hugs around. 🙂
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?
For me, Jane Austen’s brilliance isn’t about any “high astounding terms” as with Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. It’s more that she has a very clear eye and sharp mind when observing herself and others, and a very precise and concise way of using the English language. Not to mention her delightfully dry wit.
I have a couple of examples here from her letters: “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.” I freely admit to being inelegant at the best of times, but I hate hot weather, and Austen’s words immediately remind me of that frumpy, inescapable sense of discomfort it always brings.
Here are her thoughts on decorating her hat: “I cannot help thinking that it is more natural to have flowers grow out of the head than fruit.” You can just hear the dry ironic tones choosing the lesser of two absurdities.
And a last one, expressing quite the opposite of the usual sentiment: “Our little visitor has just left us, and left us highly pleased with her; she is a nice, natural, open-hearted, affectionate girl, with all the ready civility which one sees in the best children in the present day; so unlike anything that I was myself at her age, that I am often all astonishment and shame.” Her more acerbic judgements of those around her are often quoted, so here is a nice one to balance them out!
What inspired your story in the A Certain Persuasion anthology? May we have an excerpt?
When I was writing the call for submissions, I tried to come up with some ideas that might provoke my fellow authors into writing a story. One of them was “What if Elinor Dashwood was repressing her love not for Edward but for a woman?” – and while I’d been hoping to write something dealing with the rambunctious heroines of the Juvenilia, the idea about Elinor was the one that made it into print.
The story is basically a retelling of Sense and Sensibility, with brother-in-law Edward Ferrars swapped out for cousin-in-law Ada Ferrars. And this is how it starts, with me cunningly borrowing and adapting some of Austen’s best lines:
“It is enough,” said Mrs Dashwood. “To say that Ada is unlike Fanny is enough. It implies everything amiable. I love her already.”
Elinor smiled at her mother’s warm response, so typical of her enthusiasms. “I think you will like Ada, when you know more of her.”
“You love her, Elinor,” said Marianne. Her look expressed her full meaning more fervently than her tone. “You love Ada already.”
Elinor glanced at Marianne to acknowledge the truth that the sisters had never shared with their mother, but she responded honestly when she said, “I cannot deny that I greatly esteem her.”
What are you working on at present?
Well! I haven’t really talked about this a great deal, as it is an odd little project that I fear no one will want to read except me.
One of my Favourite Ever experiences in the theatre was seeing the play The Knight of the Burning Pestle by Francis Beaumont performed at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (the beautiful indoor theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe in London). It is a hilarious play, and surprisingly (even shockingly) post-modern. It features two plays within a play.
My idea was to wrap another layer around the play’s layers, and write about a modern-day performance, including the actors and what happens backstage as well as ‘novelising’ the play itself.
If I can persuade Manifold Press to publish it, I hope you’ll see it in the first half of next year!
Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with John Keats.
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.