lørdag den 15. oktober 2016

Austen in Germany

After this year’s festival in Bath, I have kept in contact with several people who live in Germany; including my regency sister Christin. Well I saw there would be a ball in Berlin, since several friends is to attend – and within days these wonderful friends had persuaded me to go with them… okay okay more or less begged me to go.

So therefore I am going to Berlin for the first official time, and on top I am to attend another regency event, which will make it 3 times this year! I am quite looking forward to visiting Berlin, especially in the company of friends, go dancing and have fun.

So are you coming to Berlin?

For myself I did know there were regency balls in Europe, but in Berlin? I had no idea! So now maybe a new dress is in order? It would work wonders with the jewellery I bought in Bath at Guildhall.

I am only happy that I am going with friends, and I am looking forward to seeing Berlin, maybe visiting a few museums and historical points; including what is left of the Berlin Wall. Mostly I am to see how the world have changed as my generation knows little about the Cold War, as our grandparents remembers WWII and our parents knows some about the wall and the time around it.

But all in all looking forward to meeting up with friends again, and of course meeting new interesting people.

Interview with Cassandra Grafton & Ada Bright

Thank you ladies for being here on my blog! It is a pleasure!

So what made you both decide to write your book?

We’ve always enjoyed writing together, pretty much since we first met 14 years ago, whether it is fan fiction, blog posts or just joking around on a Forum. We’ve wanted to take that energy and turn it towards writing a novel together for years. Then one day an idea presented itself, and all we had to do was wait for the perfect timing for both of us to get to work on it!

Why Bath? How did you decide on Bath?

Ada: When co-writing, in particular co-writing with someone who lives half way across the globe from you, it is essential to have some sort of common experience to draw upon. In our case, we had been together in Bath for Cass’s birthday one year (we even stayed in the Royal Crescent).
Bath is such a distinctive city and small enough that I could really get a feel for it even in a short time.  Cass had been many times, of course, so she could take point on what neighborhoods we wanted to deal with and things like that, but I could add my own true impressions and feelings about the city because we’d spent time there together.
Cass: Also, the idea for the story arose during a visit to Bath and was closely linked to Jane Austen and her residency in 4 Sydney Place, so it was a no-brainer in the end!
When it came to getting together to hammer out the plot and define our characters (the only time we did meet up in person during the whole writing of the book), we initially debated the pros and cons of my flying to LA or Ada coming to Switzerland. In the end, it just had to be Bath!

How did you decide on the ‘magical’ charm? Your Austen knowledge?

Cass: Most Jane Austen fans are familiar with the few items of jewellery known to have belonged to Jane and in particular the story behind the topaz crosses given to Cassandra and Jane by their brother, Charles. It seemed the obvious choice to create something inspired by these!
As a sailor, Charles had sailed to many far off places, and it felt fitting that the ‘magical charm’ had been placed on it in one of these!

I cannot help but ask, as I am sure I am not the only one who want to know, but any scoop on who inspired Dr. T?

Both: That would be telling! We want the readers to be able to form their own picture of what they think he looks like!
The thing is, you see, as a reader you use your imagination to picture characters based on the hints the writer gives you (if any! Jane Austen was notorious for giving very little).
Writers use all sorts of ways to picture the characters in books, but when you are co-writing, you both have to be able to picture the same thing! As a result, on this occasion, we decided we would pick actors who looked how we wanted our four leads to look. This was based just on how the actors look, we would stress, and not on any particular character they had played.
It helped us to be consistent if we referred to anything about their physical appearance, be it height, hair color or otherwise. It also meant we got to spend a very enjoyable afternoon in Bath ogling… er, carefully researching on Google Images!!

The book was clearly inspired by the Jane Austen festival but was Morgan by any chance inspired by Ada, since she is from California?

Ada: Morgan is actually the personification of all the ways I have felt culturally different from the Brits in my friendships and encounters in the country. I love the British people, and they have been consistently lovely to me, so it cracks me up when something about the way I am (which is so normal for me in California) tickles their fancy.
There is no end to the joy it gives me to share my earthquake stories or – more often – how weird it is that their every thought in design or building isn’t first and foremost about earthquake preparedness. Crazy as it is, I actually crafted Morgan after one of my favorite actors who, ironically enough, is British.

How did Jane become the co-heroine alongside Rose?

Ada: Ha! Well – unintentionally is the word that that comes to mind! We had a lot of discussions about how difficult and intimidating it might be to write Jane and decided we should steer far clear of it. But she just wouldn’t cooperate.
Cass: Yes! We blame Jane! She was meant to be in the background, but a bit like the character Baby in Dirty Dancing, we found out nobody puts Jane Austen in a corner!

How many times have you and Ada visited Chawton? Both for research and pleasure?

Cass: I’ve been many times, usually for pleasure, and one of the best was when Ada and I went there for her first visit this summer! She and her husband came over for our launch party for the book’s release in Bath, and our first stop after meeting them at Heathrow was to travel to Hampshire!
As for research, let’s just say that might be next!

Luxury Lettings and James… Is he inspired by husbands/boyfriends or maybe even a best friend?

Ada: If Morgan is the symbol of the cultural things that make Californians Californians, James is the counterpoint – he’s my vision of how British people respond to me… I mean obviously they don’t all fall in love with me, but they are, sometimes against their will, usually pretty entertained by me!
Cass: Choosing a holiday lettings company happened pretty naturally, simply because I stay in holiday apartments in Bath so often (several times a year). Of course, any experience I have is from a client’s perspective, and I’m pretty certain our interpretation of how it works from the office was a tad exaggerated!
There were definitely a few small elements of James’s personality at work that came from a former boss of mine, but I’m not saying which!

Can we as readers expect adventures in the 19th century with Jane?

Ada: *cough* Hey – look at that bird over there! I wonder what that bird’s name is. Like, not his species, but literally, what do his friends call him?
Cass: What an intriguing question! I can’t imagine why you might think that could happen…

And lastly can we expect a Happily Ever After Ending for the main characters?

Ada: I certainly hope so!
Cass: Wait! You don’t think we gave them one?! Ada, seems we still have work to do!!

Review of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen

This lovely story sets in Bath on a early September morning, only days before the start of the next Jane Austen festival.

Rose Wallace, this story’s heroine is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her friend and the start of the festival, though a recently arrived guest will turn Roses world on its head.

What would you do if your whole life disappeared because Austen never wrote her famous books? As a lover of Austen’s works this idea seemed intriguing to me, but also got me thinking about how Austen and her works have influenced my own life.

With a displaced 200 year old author, a necklace and hints from the past; can Rose save the most beloved stories of all time? And also turn her own life around both professionally and romantically?
This story also caught me since it’s setting is Bath, and many of the mentioned places, I have walked, stayed at, visited or just seen while being in the Georgian city. It felt like being there through Roses eyes, even if I was sitting 42000 feet above ground reading this exciting, lovely and nerve wracking book.

You are definitely being forced through a lot of emotions, while reading, which I see as one of the best achievements an author/authoress can accomplish.
Therefore a big cheer for Cass Grafton and Ada Bright!

Review of Searching for Captain Wentworth

Set in Modern Bath, finds Sophie Elliot trying to write her first novel. Her great aunt offers her one of the appartements in the family’s old townhouse in Bath. Here weird things and sights show themselves to her, and a new neighbor shows up; a VERY charming and good looking one at that.
Yet again reading my favourite Persuasion inspired book, and completely lost in the story, and happy to once again walk through lovely Georgian Bath through the eyes of Sophie! It is obvious that Jane Odiwe knows Bath very very well, and she manages to catch her reader within a few pages!

Now things start to happen, meeting Jane Austen in Regency Bath and her family, including her charming sailor brother Charles. Times shifts several times for our young heroine, mistaken notions and identities, a missing white glove and a blooming romance between two characters.

The setting changes to Lyme Regis, after a nasty fall a lot like Louisa Musgrave in ‘Persuasion’ Sophie wakes up to find herself in Lyme with no memory of how she ended there. A partly broken heart with time shifts and confusion about Josh Strafford- and one reality as sure and certain as the other in Jane Odiwe’s own words.

Luckily after many tears, Sophie is united with her very own Captain Wentworth, ‘Anne was all tenderness, and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth’s affections.’ And of course a happy ending.

A Persuasion inspired read which will leave you with your feelings in a mess after this wonderful romance. I suggest a box of tissues for the end.

Review for Mr. Darcy's Christmas Calendar

Yet again Jane Odiwe dazzles me with her writings of time travel – Regency vs. Modern world. Her writing draws the reader into the story before half a page is read, and you are hooked on finding out more! I can only recommend Jane’s books!

The scene sets in Chawton, Hampshire in England – the home county of Jane Austen.
For me it was a happy revisit to see Chawton again, and Jane Austen’s house. It made it much easier to put myself into Lizzy’s shoes.

Lizzy Benson is visiting Jane Austen’s home on the 1st of December. She meets a very unpleasant Mr. Williams, and a woman who I as a reader immediately recognised as Mrs. Bennet. In the museum shop Lizzy buys a calendar for December. Soon she is dressed in regency, and going through the house where she meets Lydia Bennet, alongside Elizabeth and Jane.

A snow storm makes it impossible for Lizzy to leave that evening and she ends up in Jane Austen’s own room. And then the magic begins from the calendar which will change Lizzy’s life for good.
During December, Lizzy meets a wealthy Wickham, the Bennet’s, Bingleys and Mr. Williams again, – but no Mr. Darcy. But a visit to Derbyshire changes the plot and we as readers are finally introduced to Mr. Darcy. As time pasts Lizzy becomes comfortable with her life in the regency times. And with each new door on the calendar opened Lizzy falls in love.

She also helped Jane Austen change the plot of “First Impressions” to the plot we all know from “Pride and Prejudice”

Well I better not say anymore except that I couldn’t put the book down, and it has a VERY happy ending. Definitely coming back to this book soon again – might actually try and read it as an Advent calendar this year in the run up to Christmas like some of my smarter friends did.

Interview with Cassandra Grafton

Hello Hello Again, dear readers!

Welcome to Cassandra, thank you for appearing here on my blog! I will go straight to my questions;

S; What made you start writing Austen inspired fiction?

A combination of things, really. I’ve been writing since I was a child, but even as an adult, I struggled to get beyond the first few chapters of any story.
photo-1-ada-and-cass-at-hogwartsAda & Cass at Hogwarts

Then, I met my friend, Ada, on a Harry Potter forum in 2002. We were in the great void between books 4 and 5 and both searching for a way to enjoy the world J.K. Rowling had created whilst we awaited a new book. We hit it off, and before long we were co-writing Harry Potter fan fiction! It was the first time I’d ever managed to complete a story!
Then, in 2005, the Pride & Prejudice film came out, and we moved into co-writing Austen-inspired fan fiction, having no idea there was such a vast empire of JAFF enthusiasts out there!
The film has its many critics, but I was swept away by the cinematography, the beautiful score and just the romance of it all. I think every adaptation has its faults, but I love them all for different reasons. It’s Jane Austen, after all, and I can always find something in each version to enjoy. In my head, I liken the 1995 series to a sumptuous 5-course dinner, whereas the 2005 film is a delicious midnight snack!
I then tried my hand at writing solo, and began Lizzy Bennet’s Diary (this was posted online back in 2006, and re-posted in 2014 at Austen Variations where it still sits.)
 Cover of A Fair Prospect Vol I

On a high from finally having completed a story on my own, I then began A Fair Prospect. It’s the only book I’ve written solo so far. I was a co-author with four other authors from Austen Variations on The Darcy Brothers, and then Ada and I finally did what we’ve long promised ourselves we would do, and co-wrote a novel together which came out in July.

S; When did you have your first meeting with Austen and her works?

In 1977. Pride & Prejudice was a set book for a school examination. I fell in love with it, and quickly went on to take every Jane Austen book from the library!

S; Do you travel much to do research for your books?

Ha! Well, in publication terms, I’ve only ever produced books in the Austen-related genre, so my travel for research has been restricted to England (though I did write some notes for A Fair Prospect during a trip to Florence and used them in a conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth!)
Bath is my favorite city, so I was keen to get Darcy and Elizabeth there when I wrote A Fair Prospect. I had a lot of fun moving the characters around the city, and I did a lot of research in relation to their lodgings and where I wanted certain key scenes to happen.

However, in 2014 we moved to Switzerland and, rather hilariously, since then I’ve visited Bath about 6 times a year! Our new book, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, is set there but in the modern day, so a lot of knowledge about the city was already there, but I did do some extensive research at Bath Library, where the Local Studies Librarian was incredibly helpful and supportive. It’s a real delight to know that all my books, including the new co-written one, are in Bath Library!
Aside from that, I’ve visited London occasionally and Derbyshire often for research and the latter is a key location in a JAFF novel I’ve been tinkering with for about 4 years. Perhaps now I’ll make an effort to finish it!

S; What do you enjoy the most about writing your books?

Letting the characters take the lead and seeing where they take the story. Of course, that can be a nightmare too sometimes, but I love that you can sit down and plot out a rough outline and when you get to the end, you look back and realise you had no idea how the story would pan out!

 S; When did you discover the JA festival and how many times have you attended?

I first found out about it and attended in 2009. We lived in the USA from 2001 to 2006, and came back to North Yorkshire, so I didn’t even realise the Festival in Bath had been set up and ran annually!
Then, in January 2009 I was taken ill and needed a few courses of treatment. To give me a focus and to keep my spirits up, my husband encouraged me to find something we could do when it was all over, which just happened to be September! Bath had always been a favourite city of ours, but we hadn’t been since returning home from the USA, and as soon as I discovered the Festival, there was no looking back!

JA Festival 2013 – photo credit Jane Odiwe

This year will be my 6th time, having returned in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016! I’m already booked to return for the whole Festival in 2017, too!

S; Which book is your favorite of Austen’s works

This hops to and fro between Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion. I think it always was P&P in the past, but in more recent years, I’ve become more attached to the story and characters of Persuasion. Perhaps that’s an age thing!

 S; What do your family think of having a popular if not famous Austen author as wife/mother? Does it ever affect your personal life?

They know how long I’ve wanted to be a writer, so they are very proud of me, but it never affects my personal life in any way whatsoever and is rarely discussed, unless a new book has come out. My husband has to live with the day to day, of course, when I’m writing, but he’s very interested in what I’m doing, so it’s nice to have someone to talk things through with.

S; Which Pemberley do you prefer? Lyme Park or Chatsworth?

Hmmm, neither? We really love Chatsworth, but not necessarily as Pemberley! We lived in North Yorkshire for 7 years and it was an easy drive down to Derbyshire to visit and we went often at all times of year. My husband even ran the Chatsworth 10k one year!

I also like to check in on the Darcy bust now and again to be sure he’s still there, because he went into storage for a while!

Lyme Park is an impressive building and the view from across the water, which we see in the 1995 series, is lovely, but I’m not so keen on the interior. It’s also not in Derbyshire!
My favourite Pemberley exterior is actually from the 1980 TV series. It may not have the handsomest Mr Darcy, but it’s the closest adaptation to the book and was the first series I ever saw. It’s Renishaw Hall & Gardens in Derbyshire. The gardens are just gorgeous, especially in the early summer months. The scene where Darcy surprises Elizabeth as she walks with the Gardiners is perfectly captured here.

Without question or doubt, the latest one! Co-writing with your best friend is one of the best experiences ever, and so much fun!
Photo 8: Ada and I in Bath with the book cover!

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is not fan fiction, though there is the Austen link with Jane herself joining us for the ride! It’s about friendship (online friendships especially), a gentle mystery with a hint of romance, and it all takes place during the Jane Austen Festival in Bath!
We both fell completely in love with our characters!

S: And finally Which Darcy do you prefer?
The one in my head! He’s been there since 1977 and no one has fully supplanted him yet…
Thank you, Cass for talking with me! And can I just say, your new book is wonderful! I can’t wait for the sequel