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Happy Columbus Day here in the USA.

Of course, in the Regency, the British didn’t celebrate Columbus Day, so for once a Monday holiday does not give me a blog topic.

Now, if I my blog would have been last Friday, I would have had a ready-made topic. Friday was Jane Eyre Day, the anniversary of the release of Jane Eyre in 1847, under the pseudonym Currer Bell. Just Saturday a week ago, Megan asked us all about our favorite movie version of Jane Eyre. If Megan could anticipate Jane Eyre Day, then maybe I can celebrate it after the fact.

I remember reading Jane Eyre when I was a girl. Athough it was not and never has been a favorite of mine, it is a story that has always stayed with me. I mean, who could forget the interrupted wedding day when, at the altar, Jane learns that Rochester has a mad wife in the attic? All the gothic spookiness of the fire and Grace Poole then makes great sense. Or the message wafting telepathically from Rochester to Jane? Or the miraculous cure of his blindness?

Unfortunately, I also remembered that Jane fell in a ditch and quite amazingly wound up on the doorstep of cousins and discovered she was an heiress (not exactly how it happened in the book, but that was how I remembered it). Even as a dreamy, romantic kid, I felt that was too contrived. I also thought that Rochester was much too mean to Jane and I never understood why she fell in love with him.

But, even all that stayed with me through the years until I read the book again and watched countless adaptations. That proves Jane Eyre’s greatness as a novel, in my mind. It is unforgettable.

My next book, Born To Scandal, coming to bookstores Nov 13 and as an ebook Dec 1, is an homage to Jane Eyre. It also is a story of a tortured hero who hires a governess with her own troubled past. It is also full of secrets.

On Friday, Jane Eyre Day, a quote appeared in my email (I’m signed up for a daily Inspirational Quote) that could have been the motto for my book:

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” — Charlotte Bronte.

It is a quote from Helen Burns to Jane. Helen was my favorite character in Jane Eyre, especially as personified by the child Elizabeth Taylor in the 1943 movie version.

What is your favorite quote from Jane Eyre or your favorite part of the story or your favorite character? How did you celebrate Jane Eyre day and how are you celebrating Columbus Day?

I have a new book out!
Born to Scandal is my homage to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It’s the story of a governess and a lord complete with secrets and betrayal.

From the back cover:

“People talk as if there is something wrong about Lord Brentmore. Something about his past.”Lord Brentmore–half Irish peasant, half English aristocrat–grew up under a cloud of scandal. Even money and a title aren’t enough to stay the wagging tongues of the Ton. But he’s vowed that his children will never experience the same stigma.
After the death of their infamous mother they need a reputable governess. Anna Hill is too passionate, too alluring, but she fills Brentmore Hall with light and laughter again–and its master with feelings he’d forgotten.
But a lord marrying a governess would be the biggest scandal of all!

I’ve received some reviews!

5 Stars! “Beautifully written, with a delicious romance, Born to Scandal by Diane Gaston was written to be savored and enjoyed as we do with all fine wines.” — Debby, Cataromance

4 Stars! “Like the original, Gaston’s homage to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a story about lies and betrayal with a governess at the center. This one is well written, brimming with emotion and populated with characters readers will come to care about and root for. And, best of all, the governess gets her happy ending!” — Maria Ferrer, RT Book Reviews

We often ask our guests where the idea for their books came from. I am not sure where the idea for Born to Scandal came from. In fact, I can’t remember writing the first chapter. My friend Julie brought back a full manuscript of mine that she had in her possession. Loose inside it was this first chapter. I didn’t even remember it. After reading it, I did remember my idea for the story, my desire to tell a governess story, like Jane Eyre.

So when I needed a new story idea, I went with this one.

Another thing I liked about it was the challenge of writing a story where not much happens except the hero and heroine working out their relationship. There’s no villain, no battle scenes (sigh!), no road trip–except a short one.

To celebrate the release of Born to Scandal, I’m giving away one signed copy to one lucky commenter.

What do you remember about the first time you read Jane Eyre?


What if it was Mr. Rochester chained up in the attic?

It’s Tuesday, but I’m not Amanda! We’ve swapped days this week so I can celebrate the release date of my novella Reader, I Married Him, published by Loose-Id today. AND I’m offering a download as a prize to one lucky person who makes a comment or asks a question.

First off, big thanks to editor Treva Harte at Loose-Id for making me an offer on this novella five (gulp) years ago and making me another offer last year, and to fabulous cover artist Christine M. Griffin who obligingly made Rochester look a bit more grubby at my suggestion. And although the flying critters may be bats elsewhere, they’re crows, I’m telling you. Crows. This is Bronte country.

This novella has been in the works a long, long time. I blogged about it here in a post on Jane Eyre in 2005, which was around the same time a NY editor sent me a wounded rejection that included the phrase I don’t want Jane to be a slut. I still think that’s one of the most fabulous rejections I have ever received. It’s also interesting how things have changed in five years. Re-reading the novella in preparation for editing and sending in to Loose-Id, I was struck at how tame most of the dirty stuff is. All fairly ho-hum (oh, go wash your mouth out with soap) vanilla stuff.

So why did I take that great icon of romance, Jane Eyre, and subvert her? I guess I’m just a troublemaker. Also, Jane isn’t the heroine, although she does behave, er, sluttishly (but no more and no less than anyone else in the book). I wrote it because Jane Eyre fascinates and impresses me and lures me in to read it again and again; and also because I admire Bronte’s marvelous, spare, sinewy prose. I wanted to include quotes within the novella, and I’ll be really interested to see if readers recognize them–some, the title for instance, are obvious. I’m particularly proud of the way the last line falls into place. You’ll see why.

It’s a bit of a departure for me but I’m writing under my own name; I have no innocence or innocents to protect. And I’m very proud of this novella.

I’d love everyone to rush off and buy it and I will be picking a winner here on Wednesday at noon EST. But–WARNING–do not buy this e-novella if you have strong feelings about Jane Eyre as the iconic great grandmother of romance.

So, let’s talk about Jane Eyre. Why is the novel important to YOU?

(n) Gothic romance (a romance that deals with desolate and mysterious and grotesque events) — from the Princeton University website

My introduction to Gothic romance was in high school, where I first read Jane Eyre and got sucked in by all the classic Gothic romance elements: a romantic but dangerous setting, an innocent and vulnerable heroine, a hero with Secrets. Later (having gone to an all-girl Catholic school) I also read Rebecca, a more modern Gothic that fascinated me and many of my classmates.

I suspect a lot of Gothic romance authors have been inspired by Jane Eyre, but Charlotte Bronte was by no means the founder of the genre. During the Regency, readers enjoyed Gothic romances such as those published by the Minerva Press. It was Ann Radcliffe who made them popular with examples like The Mysteries of Udolpho, which inspired much of the foolish behavior of Catherine, the heroine of Northanger Abbey. Although Jane Austen poked fun at Gothics, I suspect she enjoyed reading some of them herself. BTW I find this cover for Northanger Abbey very funny!

Gothics can go awry. I think the concept of the TSTL (Too Stupid to Live) heroine arose with romances in which the heroine runs off in her nightie, holding nothing but a candle, to investigate an eerie sound in the attic or cellar where dire events are suspected to have occurred.

I still like Gothic romance and I happily suspend disbelief to follow the characters into situations that are wildly unlikely in real life. I played with some of these elements in my recent reissue, SAVING LORD VERWOOD. I haven’t read many recent historicals like this (though I’m admittedly way behind in my reading) but dark paranormals provide the same thrill. A well-written romance with Gothic elements is like a piece of luscious chocolate. Who cares if it’s good for you?

Do you enjoy romance with Gothic elements? What are some of your favorites, classic or modern?

I’ll be giving away 5 Kindle or Nook copies of SAVING LORD VERWOOD to commenters chosen at random. If you win, you can also nominate a friend to receive a free copy. Void where prohibited. You must be over 18. No purchase necessary. Post your comment by midnight EST on January 13. I will post an announcement on Saturday, January 14, so please check back to see if you have won.


Where do you get your story ideas?

My latest story idea came from my friend Julie. She recently returned a manuscript of mine that she’d had at her house and with it was a chapter I had written about a governess and a marquess. I had forgotten all about this story! But once jogged, I remembered it very well.
It is a governess story and I can hardly wait to start writing it.
Ever since reading Jane Eyre, I’ve loved the fantasy of the governess winding up with the lord. It was one of my favorite themes in traditional regencies and one of my favorite variations on the Cinderella story.
In Emma, Jane Austen gives us a good idea of a governess’s fate, both in a positive way–her own beloved governess, Miss Taylor, who was treated as a beloved family member and who married well–and a negative way–Jane Fairfax, who looks upon the prospect of becoming a governess with as a fate akin to death. Charlotte Bronte’s later depiction of a governess is similarly bleak, and includes the gothic elements that Victoria Holt (another of my favorites) popularized in later years in The Mistress of Mellyn, or another classic, Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart.
Here’s a long list of traditional regencies with governess heroines.
I think governesses are perfect for Cinderella plots, because their status and situation set them apart from the society in which they live. Often they are depicted as well-born young ladies fallen on hard times who must toil for long hours for little pay. They neither fit in with the servant class nor the class of their employers. (But they might befriend some darling mice and pretty little birds–and have a fairy godmother)
Do you like governess stories, or are you (gasp) sick of them? If you like them, do you have a favorite?
Our guest for next Sunday has written a governess story. Christine Merrill will join us to talk about her latest release, Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess.
Hurry up and comment on yesterday’s interview with Lavinia Klein if you want a chance to win a download of Kathryn the Kitten or a Real Duchesses of London T-shirt. I’m picking the winners at midnight.
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