Bespelling Jane Austen

… these multitalented authors cleverly twist the classics into delightful, scary, funny and original paranormal romances that only original, witty and wise authors could pull off. Romantic Times Book Reviews

…a superb Emma retelling with a wonderful paranormal twist. And She Reads

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Welcome to my big fat Regency paranormal celebration weekend. Today I’m talking about BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN which hit the shelves just a few days ago and giving away two copies. Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about JANE AND THE DAMNED, also with copies as prizes.

I loved writing this novella, Little To Hex Her, and I was very lucky that Susan Krinard and I share the same agent, which is how I was invited to join the anthology. I also love that this cover gives me an automatic boost up the publishing ladder by defining me, along with the others who are the genuine article, as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Talk about a field promotion ….

This book represents a lot of firsts for me. First novella, first paranormal, first contemporary, first public appearance as someone doing terrible things to poor Jane Austen. Mary’s is Victorian set, Colleen’s is a Gardella-inspired Regency, and Susan and I wrote contemporaries to balance things out. I was really hoping that no one else would want to base theirs on Emma, which has long been my favorite Austen, although I’ve been having a fling with Mansfield Park which I blogged about a couple of years ago.

What do I love about Emma? Certainly neither its heroine nor hero; Knightley gets my worst in bed Austen hero award; and Emma herself is clueless and as terrified of the world outside her safe little provincial circle as her father is. Because Austen is so brilliant she can enchant you with a book where she admitted herself that the heroine is someone not many will like. But it’s the details, the delineations of class and village life, the interwoven relationships, the minor characters, that fascinate me: who knows what and when, how Austen carefully drops clues and hints. Pam Rosenthal, with whom I’ve had many conversations about Emma (no, really, this is what writers do) pointed out that the book works as a mystery as well as being full of mysteries in its own right.

So it was a real joy to slice and dice and translate Austen. I decided to set the story in Washington, DC because I live near there and I decided Emma should live in the classic art deco Kennedy-Warren Apartments. Emma runs a paranormal dating agency; matchmaking is her job, even if it’s one she doesn’t feel completely at home with.

As well as inheriting my sister’s job for a year, I’d also inherited her apartment in a gem of an art deco building a stone’s throw from the zoo at Woodley Park. At first I’d thought the strange whooping sounds that woke me at dawn were the gargoyles, until I realized they were the gibbons greeting the new day. I loved the apartment with its huge windows and elegant parquet floors.

I loved the marble and mosaics and gilding of the lobby, the wrought iron splendor of the dignified slow elevator. I even loved the gargoyles, particularly after I’d drawn the blinds.

There was only one problem with the place, and here he was ambling across the lobby, sporting a toolbelt and carrying a toilet plunger.

“Yo, Woodhouse,” said George I-hate-my-first-name Knightley. Despite his disguise as a janitor, he was the owner of the building. He enjoyed the occasional spot of maintenance as relaxation from the world of high finance—”it keeps me humble.”

Humble! As though any member of that renowned and ancient family of wizards even knew the meaning of the word.

“Hi George,” I returned, and had the pleasure of seeing him scowl.

The Kennedy-Warren doesn’t have any gargoyles, but the Cathedral, in the same neighborhood, certainly does.

Since the building where Emma lives is so important to the story, let’s talk about buildings! I’ll pick two winners who respond to the following question:

Which buildings do you love or are inspired by?

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11 years ago

Hi Janet,
Congratulations on your new book with all it’s firsts. One of my favorite buildings is the Philadelphlia Art Museum with it’s famous front steps. They are so much easier going down.

Sharon S.
11 years ago

This book looks like so much fun to read 🙂 Old churches are always beautiful, especially in Europe. I love museums too. Usually the architecture is something unique.

11 years ago

I love old castles and churches in Europe. Would love to see some old castles in France next summer.

Colleen Gleason
11 years ago

I love old castles. My favorite thing in the world are those ruins in Wales and throughout England. They’ve always been very inspiring to me, especially when I tried my hand at medievals.

But the building on my list that I would love to see some day is the Taj Mahal…mainly because it’s just so PERFECT.

Miranda Neville
11 years ago

Hi Janet – don’t enter me for the drawing, I already have the book. I’m working my way backwards through it and so far I’ve loved your and Susan’s contributions.

Your DC apartment building reminds me of some of the great NYC ones – the Ansonia on Broadway may be my favorite.

I love using real English buildings in books, though I usually change them so I won’t be constrained by inconvenient things like reality. In my new book the hero’s socking great country mansion is based on Seaton Delaval, an incredibly weird Vanbrugh house outside Newcastle.

Tracey Devlyn
11 years ago

Hi Janet,

Congrats on your new release–I already have it so please don’t enter me in your giveaway!

Locally, in Chicago, I love the Mayslake Peabody Estate. It’s a Tudor Revival and quite unique for our area.


11 years ago

I always loved the Art Deco Chrysler Building in New York City. Another is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA – incredible what unlimited resources and an unbalanced mind can bring forth.


11 years ago

I don’t have a very strong religious belief myself, but I find churches and cathedrals inspiring. The idea that so many people worked for so long to create something beautiful is always an inspiration.

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

Morning, everyone!

@Lucy–lucky you, going to France next summer.

@Maureen–the Philly town hall is splendid, too–downtown Philly, with its mix of old and new is such an interesting cityscape.

Hi @Colleen and @Miranda. I tend to use bits of old houses, too tho at the moment I’m using two real and very well known houses for the next Jane/Damned book–her house and the Great House in Chawton.

@Tracey, Mayslake puts a whole new spin on the term “country retreat.” Wow.

Sherree, didn’t Ghost Hunters or some such visit the Winchester house?–it’s a very weird place, from what I’ve heard.

Kim in Hawaii
11 years ago

Aloha! I can remember you telling a group of WRW members about this book during our lunch at La Madeleine (our monthly meeting, ironically, discussed Pride and Prejudice). I am so happy that the book is now published! Looking forward to reading it!

11 years ago

Hello ladies! I know I’ve MIA from the blog but, fear not, not from your books. I can’t wait to read Janet’s story, as well as, all the other authors.

I love older buildings. My favorites are in NYC. Those row houses that I walk by make me feel like I’m stepping back in time.

Sorry I’ll miss at Lady Jane’s (which is on Monday, Oct 4th)but I hope we connect in NJ!

Ciao for now!

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

Hi there, Kim–there’s an interview and a contest to win a copy of Jane and the Damned over at Kim’s blog SOS Aloha today (she’s too shy to mention it):

Santa! See you in NJ.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Oh, Yay! Bespelling Jane at last and Jane and the Damned tomorrow. Life is good.

My favorite building? The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. It is the most beautiful building in Washington DC and well worth a visit to see its interior.

Shelley Munro
11 years ago

Hi Janet,
Congratulations on the new release. I really like Georgian buildings and the Crescent in Bath is very evocative with its unique avenue. I also like Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Shottery with its thatched roof and cottage gardens. It’s chocolate box pretty.

Colleen – great choice in the Taj Mahal. I’ve been lucky enough to visit and its breathtaking. You definitely need to experience it at dawn (freezing!) and at dusk too. It’s beautiful in the different lights.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Congrats on the new releases, Janet!

As for buildings, I am on a Palladian kick. Monticello for the U.S, for the U.K. Stourhead, Stowe and Syon House. But I love older houses too. Depends on what I’m working on, I guess.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Hello, Janet ! Definitely looking forward to reading this anthology!

One of my favorite buildings is the (now Anglican) Church of St. Mary and St. Peter in the village of Kelsale in Suffolk. It is an old Norman church(11th Century) that sits at the top of a hill in the little village where we lived for three years when I was a girl.

The church sits in the middle of a walled churchyard guarded by trees as old as the church. As a child who was fascinated with British history the headstones with dates like 1086 fired my imagination as much as the imposing building itself.

We spent many an afternoon picnicking and making up stories about the names on those stones and the people in those graves. And yes, we made a few forays up there to tell ghost stories at night as well.

To this day anytime I have a church scene in one of my manuscripts I see that glorious old church resting in regal slumber under the trees.

11 years ago

there recently was an article on a newsite showing weird houses but I also like looking at the weird restaurants, those are generally neat

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

@Diane–you’re right, the Library of Congress is gorgeous and they also have lots of wonderful activities there including a free chamber music series.

@Alison, I feel the same way about churches, too. I had the pleasure of visiting both Winchester Cathedral (where Austen is buried) and Salisbury Cathedral earlier this year–awesome buildings. I have some pics up on my regular FB page.

@Shelley, hunt down a pic of Lansdown Crescent in Bath. It’s got a fabulous view of the city and also a grazing field in front of it, which originally the Royal Crescent had: it was a reminder that the pleasures of the town were only a few minutes away from those of the country.

Hi Elena and Louisa–back to churches again, I visited Steventon Church on my UK trip this year where a lot of Austen’s relatives and the people she knew are buried. It’s a lovely building. Sadly the rectory where she grew up no longer exists.

@binabug … weird restaurants! That could put you off your dinner.

Jane George
Jane George
11 years ago

I love the New York Public Library, Ghostbusters and all.

I need a pair of earrings of the library lions. Or bookends. Or both!

11 years ago

I find Wells Cathedral really inspiring. Absolutely love all those arches and the front is also very impressing.

11 years ago

I enjoy Notre Dame and the cathedrals of Europe, but as I have never been able to visit them, the National Cathedral in Washington DC blew me away when I visited. Such a sense of hallowed space combined with beautiful carving and windows.

11 years ago

Absolutely loved this book!
Among my favorite architectural treasures is Mont St. Michel, which is certainly mong the the most beautiful and gothic (small “g” referring to the atmosphere) of any place I’ve ever been!

11 years ago

There is a wonderful building in downtown Asheville, NC. . Asheville has many wonderful Art Deco buildings. This building is Neo-Gothic in style and makes me think of Gotham City. It is taller than any around it and has wonderful gargoyles. You just know something is going on in there. It is the Jackson Building. Asheville also has the Biltmore Estate. That house can inspire many fantasies. If you haven’t been, it is worth the experience.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

11 years ago

Congrats Janet! I’m looking forward to reading this book, I have to make it out to the book store soon. =)
I haven’t traveled to too many places but I love the old church and buildings in St. Augustine, FL. I would love to travel to Europe one day and see all the old architecture there.

11 years ago

yay! I can’t wait to read this book! Christmas seems so far away!

Old churches and castles always seem to be able to draw me in. Also I love barns and places that are warn out. They seem to have an essence surrounding them that you can really start to feel if you just wait and think about it. Also old houses that many people have lived in. Just thinking about all the people that have gone through the houses. It’s always so amazing try to think of their stories.

And I haven’t gotten to travel but I always wanted to. I love looking in books and reading about places picturing them in my mind. I think places in the imagination are the best of all.