• Uncategorized

    Cover and Excerpt, Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion

    My next book, the second about Jane Austen as a (part-time/temporary) vampire, Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, is released in October, 2011 and I thought you’d like to see the beauteous cover. I love it! Note the bat-shaped pen and Jane’s fang.

    It’s set in 1810, when Jane, with her mother, sister and best friend are living in Chawton and Jane is about to get down to some serious writing. But then, as so often happens in Austen’s own novels, new tenants lease Chawton Great House, owned by one of Jane’s brothers.

    Here’s the beginning of the book:

    Chawton, Hants, 1810

    “She’s an extraordinarily troublesome girl,” the Reverend James Austen said.

    Jane watched in fascination as the girl in question, her niece Anna, pulled a hideous face at her father, an expression that lasted only a second before her pretty face resumed its normal sweetness.

    “Come, brother, you’d rather have her commit folly at twenty-seven than seventeen?”

    “I was sixteen when it started, Aunt Jane,” Anna said.

    “Indeed, a whole year of foolishness.” James stood as his mother entered the drawing room. “How goes the garden, ma’am? I have brought you some cuttings; your garden boy has them.”

    “You did? Heavens, he’ll probably kill them by looking at them. What possessed your brother to send me that boy I cannot imagine. He’s all thumbs and none of them green. Come now, James, give your old mother a kiss. And you, too, Miss Anna, you must help me in the garden.”

    James frowned at the display of affection between Mrs. Austen and her granddaughter. “She is here to reflect upon her foolishness and inconstancy, ma’am, not to enjoy herself.”

    “Oh, of course,” Jane murmured. “But you hate gardening, do you not, Anna? And going for walks, and playing upon the pianoforte, and talking nonsense, and reading novels, for that is all we do here, I fear.”

    “Hmm.” As James spoke Jane saw a quick glance of affection between father and daughter, quickly masked. “I had in mind some improving literature and early nights.”

    “Naturally. Bread and water we can supply too, James. Never fear. We shall be the consummate jailers.”

    “Oh, stop talking nonsense and make tea for us, Jane.” Mrs. Austen removed the wide-brimmed, unfashionable straw hat she wore for gardening. “We shall keep Anna busy, you may be assured, and fortunately there are no eligible bachelors in Chawton.”

    “Indeed, yes,” Jane said, measuring tea into the teapot. “For Mr. Papillon is destined for me, you know. If you set your cap at him I shall be most displeased, Anna, and send you packing off home to Steventon again.”

    “Really? You have a beau, Aunt Jane?”

    “Your aunt is funning you.” James, softening a little, winked at his sister. “How goes the scribbling, Jenny?”

    “Fair enough. Gallons of ink, acres of paper, and every morning my sister and mother and Martha have to wade through my torn out hair a foot deep on the dining room floor. I thank you for asking, brother.”

    “I’m not so sure it wasn’t novels that caused all this trouble in the first place,” James said. “They contain much romantic silliness.”

    “Oh, heaven forbid we should act as rational creatures,” Jane said. “Do you think we do not know the difference between fact and fiction, James? That all we read in novels is but a fantasy of the life we lead, and we such poor creatures we cannot tell the difference? And,” she added, “mine don’t contain romantic silliness. Silliness, possibly. Romance, possibly. But the two together? Impossible.”

    Enjoy and hope to see many of you in NYC next week!

  • Uncategorized

    Visit to England, Part 2

    Last week I gave a quick overview of my visit to England and today I wanted to talk a little more about the visit to Chawton, where Jane Austen made her home for nine years, polished and wrote her novels, and hung out with vampires (next book!). Naturally I haven’t finished unpacking yet and some of the stuff will get tossed into the bigger suitcase for Nationals, for which I really didn’t buy any more clothes. Sorry. I leave all that to Amanda.

    Before visiting Chawton, we went to St. Nicholas Church in Steventon, which is where Jane Austen’s father was vicar, a living taken over by one of Jane’s brothers. The house where they lived no longer exists, but the church still stands, a tiny, charming building.

    Austen enthusiasts from all over the world have visited and contributed money to restore the church.

    Outside the church door is a venerable yew tree nine centuries old, where once the church key was hidden.

    From there we went to Chawton, a place I hadn’t visited in about fifteen years so I was thrilled to see the changes there. The working areas of the house have been restored–the seventeenth century house was once a farm, so it has substantial outbuildings as well as a lovely garden.

    Here’s Jane’s donkey cart, used on shopping expeditions (they kept two donkeys) and the copper (for washing clothes) and bread oven.

    The kitchen has been fitted out with a range which is early Victorian but not period, and to the left of it is a Rumsford stove, probably original. The bricks above the fire had holes into which pots could be lowered or placed above. (If you’re going to attend my presentation on servants at the Beau Monde Conference next week you’ll see these pictures again!)

    I was struck by how tiny and crooked the rooms in the house were–probably less crooked two centuries ago! Very little family furniture remains, although there is a desk and two chairs in the parlor which came from Steventon. And of course the most famous writing table in the world is there too.

    It had been very hot the previous week and the weather had only just broken, so the garden possibly isn’t as lush and green as it should have been, but I thought it was gorgeous.

    And here’s the last picture, the new cover for Jane and the Damned. When they told me it was going to be pink, I wasn’t very happy. I’m not a pink sort of girl and Jane Austen, as I depict her, wasn’t either. But I love it! Grubby pink works so well. What do you think?

    Have you visited Chawton? What did you enjoy seeing there?

  • Jane Austen

    Visit to England, Part I

    I’m returning home today after a wonderful week in England, and I want to show you some pictures of where I’ve been.

    I’ve enjoyed reading about Amanda and Carolyn’s conference experience, but I think I can safely say that the conference I attended last weekend, the RNA Conference in Greenwich, London, had the best conference location ever! The weather was hot and sunny (I found it refreshing after the hot mugginess of Washington, DC) but the nights were awful. We stayed in student accommodation where the windows would only crack open and we would compare notes in the morning on how we kept cool. My technique? Have a cool shower and sleep on the wet towel.

    We had a celebratory dinner in the Trafalgar Inn, which Dickens attended for whitebait suppers, and about which he wrote in My Mutual Friend.

    I met some lovely people at the conference. Here’s Susannah Kearsley signing, and me with Lucy Inglis who writes the amazing Georgian London blog.

    Here’s the Thames in the evening. I spent most of the time in Greenwich but went to the London Museum where I saw, among other wonderful things, the front door of Newgate Prison and a fantastic recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

    After the conference I traveled to Hampshire where I stayed with friends who happily took me to Chawton where we visited both Chawton Museum, Jane Austen’s home, and Chawton House, a gorgeous Elizabethan-Jacobean mansion which is now a library of women’s literature from the sixteenth to nineteenth century. Sadly we couldn’t take pictures inside.

    Chawton House was one of the properties owned by Jane’s brother Edward, who was adopted by the Knight family and inherited their estate. He lived in Godmersham, Kent, but provided his mother and sisters with the permanent home of the cottage in the village.

    We also went to Winchester Cathedral where Jane Austen is buried, and the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. Here’s a 13th century carving from Salisbury that depicts an African man, almost certainly a cathedral workers\ who was immortalized by his colleagues. Who was he? How did he end up in Salisbury?

    I’m also blogging today at Supernatural Underground and showing off more of my photos.

    Remember A Damned Good Contest is still open!

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