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Tag Archives: JASNA

Here are a few discoveries from around the web today.

First, two of the few remaining seventeenth century houses in London have been given Grade II listings. They’re on Denmark Street in Soho, and would first have been middle class dwellings, then in the Regency, part of the notorious St. Giles Rookery. Later in the nineteenth century, they became used for industry, metal working and shops. They retain a lot of their original features–look at this wonderful doorway:

7-denmark-st-p1110772exterior-6-7-denmark-st-p1110713And here’s a view from the street. Now, there’s an interesting factoid associated with the listing of these houses. Soho in the mid-twentieth century became associated with London’s musical life, (and other things too, such as the sex industry and good restaurants). In the mid 1970s an outbuilding of 6 Denmark Street was used as a recording studio by none other, wait for it, the Sex Pistols. Some of their graffiti still survive. And the buildings have been recognized in a year which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Punk. Yes, Punk is now an institution, recognized by none less than the British government.

For more about the houses and for a good timewaste, visit

Another wonderful site if you’re in a spending frame of mind is the British Library shop.

cakestandMany terrific, literary-themed goodies are here, including some truly gorgeous Alice in Wonderland items such as this cake stand. I have lustful dreams about this cake stand. Thank goodness I don’t bake and thank goodness it’s out of stock.

There are also some very lovely items  connected with the library’s 2013 Georgians Revealed Exhibit. And of course if you absolutely have to do some research, there’s all this stuff.

Now on to think locally if you’re in the Washington DC area. A couple of great events are coming up, both on the same day, April 2, but you have time in between to put your feet up and then stuff them into your dancing shoes.

First, JASNA-DC presents Lizzie + Darcy 4Ever: All About Jane Austen Fan Fiction, a panel discussion with some JAFF authors. It’s free, in Bethesda Library starting at 10:30 am. Details here.

Then in the evening, the Spring Ball at Dumbarton House takes place. The dances will be called with walk throughs and you don’t have to put on your Regency drag unless you want to/have some. Admission includes three glasses of wine (I can just hear Jane Austen asking, “Only three?”).

Found anything good online recently, or do you have plans for fun activities?

How is everyone this cold January week??  Around here things are going better–the illness seems to be fading (finally!) and the new book is moving (slowly) along.  Here is a little about what else is going on:


–Today is my birthday!!!  I will spend it much as someone might have in the Regency, quietly with a nice family dinner and (hopefully!) some new books as presents.  With Christmas/wedding/sicknesses just past, being nice and cozy with a bottle of wine and some cake sounds just right….

–Oklahoma finally has a JASNA chapter of our very own!  For years, in order to go to a chapter meeting I had to drive to Dallas, but now I just have to drive across town.  This month my mom and I did a program to celebrate Jane’s birthday by talking about Regency fashions (you can see pics at the website,  In June there is going to be a Netherfield Ball in Dallas, so I am also joining a country dancing group to get ready!  New dress time!

–Speaking of new dresses, did everyone watch the Golden Globes??  Thanks to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, the show was actually funny and entertaining and I watched (almost) the whole thing.  Can I say how much I loved all the coral colored gowns and the sparkle??  I want one now.  Here are a couple of my favorites, Zooey Deschanel and Lucy Liu (a sort of modern day Marie Antoinette, with a side braid)



–And this is also the 454th anniversary of Elizabeth I’s coronation!  I may do a whole post about it next week, because I’ve been researching it for my second Kate Haywood Elizabethan Mystery, Murder at Westminster Abbey.  I was watching Anne of the Thousand Days again just last weekend, and I always cry at that scene at the end when Henry comes to see Anne and she defiantly cries “My Elizabeth shall be queen!  And my blood will have been well spent”


What have you been doing this week??  Who were your favorites at the Golden Globes?  Any favorite Tudor movies??

Last weekend I was in Brooklyn for the JASNA-AGM which is also a conference at which several hundred people get together and talk about Jane Austen. Weird? Absolutely. Some of us dress up for the ball on Saturday night. Some of us dress up all the time in different outfits and some of us cross-dress. There were also a few real men there too. The New York Times took some terrific pics which are much better than mine, so take a look here. As you can see we had a grand parade outside at night led by a fife and drum duo and there weren’t many people around but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

Our plenary speaker was the amazing Cornell West who said (something like) philosophers seek the flame but Jane Austen is the fire. There were lots of great speakers including Anna Quindlen and William Deresiewicz, whose book A Jane Austen Education I’ve been longing to read and now own (signed!).

I was there as one of a subpanel of writers for a panel on publishing where we admired Penguin’s beautiful new Austen editions collaborating with graphic artists. There were shopping opportunities for books thanks to the very cool Jane Austen Books and here’s some of my loot–a fab pair of earrings and a tin of tea that was the official invite to next year’s JASNA in Minneapolis, based on Pride & Prejudice.

More pics–the view from my hotel window and a view from the Brooklyn Bridge–I played hooky to take a walk on Saturday afternoon in glorious weather. I liked Brooklyn a lot–some lovely buildings and lots of energy and nice friendly people.

I also got the chance to catch up with some of the Austen authors I know–here are Ann Herendeen, Karen Doornebos, and Cindy Jones, and here’s a great one of Ann in her gorgeous Regency finery. Sadly I didn’t get a pic of Karen in her pirate outfit. (Yes, there is an Austen connection, or so she said.)

Tomorrow I’m off again, this time to the New Jersey Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in Iselin, NJ, and if you’re in the neighborhood please stop by and meet me at the booksigning on Sat. afternoon. And please also stop by online and make me buy a waterbuffalo–my blog tour is ending soon and there is absolutely nothing to stop you signing at every single stop; in fact, please do. For every comment made I’m donating $1 to Heifer International up to $250, the price of a waterbuffalo. The whole schedule is here and today I’m visiting Carrie Ann Ryan and Kacey’s Connections.

So what have you been up to recently? Dressed up as a Regency lady or a pirate? Drunk much tea? Visited a wonderful neighborhood that was new to you?

Today’s guest is someone I’ve known online for sometime but met in person just this last weekend at the JASNA-AGM in Fort Worth, TX: Laurel Ann Nattress, the editor of a fabulous anthology of Austen-inspired stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It (and I’m one of the authors!). We had a terrific book launch party for JAMMDI, my Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, and the newest release from another anthology contributor, Carrie Bebris’ The Affair at Lime.

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Tell us the story behind the story–how did this anthology come about?

As a long-time Jane Austen fan, I had read all of her novels numerous times, moved on to the movies and sequels, and started my blog, Austenprose, in 2007. While working with Austenesque authors on publicity for their books, I began to see a thread that connected them all together. What if I edited an anthology of short stories inspired by Austen? At that time, there were many sequels and Austen-inspired novels in print, but no short story collections. My biggest challenge was how to get it published. I had no idea, but asked authors Diana Birchall, Margaret Sullivan and Laurie Viera Rigler for advice. Before I could reach out to anyone with my book proposal, I received an email from an agent of an author who I was working with on my blog thanking me for the great job I had done his client publicize the book. I saw an opportunity and immediately wrote back and pitched my anthology. He was an Austen fan too and immediately loved the idea. Within a week, I had my deal with Ballantine. It was just too surreal.

You’ve anticipated my usual question of whether your book was a hard sell, but that’s an awesome story. Congratulations!

My “road to publication” story is one in a million. When I started my blog years ago, I never dreamed that it would culminate into a book, but it did. One hears horror stories of how authors pitching their novels for years and enduring painful rejections and multiple rewrites before they capture the deal. Many times it never happens. The industry can be brutal. After my deal with Ballantine closed, I felt terribly guilty for about five minutes. I had to remember that I had been working diligently for years and give myself credit for developing relationships with so many of the Austenesque authors. I also had to credit the Fates. My number was up and all my stars and planets were in perfect alignment.

The thought of doing what you did (and dealing with people like me) terrifies me: was it really like herding cats?

Oh Janet. You are such a card. Authors difficult? Naw! You are not the first person to liken authors to herding cats. I am a cat lover, so it was not a challenge. 😉

I was all prepared for diva dramatics, but they did not materialize. Sorry to disappoint, but you were a charm to work with, and so were all other twenty-three authors! Luckily, we had many months to develop stories and edit them. I credit my editor at Ballantine for giving a newbie editor the extra time. It made all the difference in getting stories that the authors had a chance to contemplate and refine before they submitted them. We also allowed a bit of time for rewrites. It was the perfect storm.

Lizzy and Darcy … why do they continue to fascinate us endlessly, as opposed to, for instance, Anne and Wentworth? Do you think another Austen couple could be the next big thing?

Lizzy and Darcy are a hard act to follow. I think that they are legendary because their romance is hard wrought and so satisfying. Lizzy goes from disliking Darcy intensely and rejecting his proposal, to being transformed after seeing his great estate at Pemberley! It may sound mercenary, but in Regency times, a man’s estate was a reflection of his integrity and style. Darcy saving her family’s social reputation by finding the naughty elopees, Lydia and Wickham, and then buying off the groom did not hurt either. It’s hard to pinpoint which of Austen’s couples could ever match them. I don’t think it is possible, but I do root for Catherine and Henry Tilney. Northanger Abbey is terribly underrated and I hope that readers will come to love it and the young hero and heroine more in the future.

Who is your favorite Austen couple?

I tend to like the antagonists in Austen oeuvre more that the feature romantic couple. They can be so much more interesting. Brother and sister Mary and Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park are just twisted enough to be intriguing, and Lady Susan Vernon and Reginald De Courcy in Lady Susan are about as far from innocent star crossed lovers as you can get. I guess you can say I like to be shocked by breaches in propriety – all within the realm of proper Austen decorum mind you! If I had to choose a nice couple to root for, it would be Harriet Smith and Robert Martin from Emma. They end up together after a few detours and their personalities leave the door wide open for some bumps in their married life.

Which is your favorite Austen? Why?

I will be presumptuous and assume that you mean my favorite Jane Austen book, right? Oh this is so hard to choose. I could give the politically correct answer and say that my favorite Jane Austen novel is the one I am currently reading, but I won’t, and will go out on a limb and say it wavers between Mansfield Park and Lady Susan. Are you shocked? Oh, I do dearly love to laugh with Pride and Prejudice and get pierced through my soul with Persuasion, but I am one to root for the underdog, so I will stick with my first choices. Both stories have very strong antagonists that are actually the protagonists. I love that dichotomy.

Which biography of Austen would you recommend?

Definitely Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life. Great research and scholarly detail, but told in an interesting fiction-like manner.

Tell us about the contest and the judging process for it.

The Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story contest was an incredible challenge for me all around, but it was also great fun too! Jane Austen was devoted to her craft and has been inspiring writers for centuries. A short story contest for unpublished authors was in spirit with her ideals, so I pitched the idea to my editor and she liked it also. We never expected to receive eighty-eight stories! With the help of Myretta Robens at The Republic of Pemberley , we proofed, formatted and posted on the contest board about three quarters of those stories within the last three days! Talk about writers procrastination! The voters narrowed down the list to the Top Ten and my editor and I chose the Grand Prize winner. It was a tough call. I trusted my initial gut reaction to the winning story. The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey made me cry. It was an incredible debut story that I hope many will have the chance to read.

What’s next for you?

Hmm? That’s a tricky question Janet. If I answered you honestly, I would let the cat out of the bag. Since I like to herd cats, I will leave that to your imagination.

Thanks for hosting me today on Riskies during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of Jane Austen Made Me Do It. It was a pleasure.

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by Sunday, October 23, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on October 25. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

Amanda mentioned in her post about JASNA that one of the highlights was Andrew Davies’ presentation in which he talked about his Austen screenplays. He’s such a good speaker that I found myself writing notes–oh my gosh, I must tell the Riskies about this!–and so I thought I’d share what he said about his various screenplays, and also about the cast and crew comments that prompted changes and rewrites (as well as the inside jokes). First, he has a huge oeuvre–minds out of the gutter ladies, although he’d probably appreciate it–check it out. He’s got a lot of projects on the boil including a novel based on his childhood as well as other screenplays. I asked him if he’d tackle Mansfield Park because I think he could do amazing things with it and he said he was asked that fairly often. (I also told him I was chaperoning Amanda and not to squeeze her too tightly when we were photographed together.)

Talking of photos, mine were abysmal, so I borrowed this one from Austenprose (thanks, Laurel Ann!). This was taken on the grand parade in Sundance Square. Now I do have to admit that some things about the conference were a bit weird, like running into people who wore their regency stuff all the time even outside the hotel. But on Sunday night when we were all dressed up we had an official parade outside where people took our pics and seemed entertained/bemused. Mr. Davies, as guest of honor, was escorted by two lovely tall blonde Texans who were dressed up in their western gear (and honest, in Texas you do get dressed up in a stetson and cowboy boots. It can look very chic). You can’t see it in the pic but their Stetsons featured flashing jewels and they claimed to be the Blingley Sisters.

The conference was about Sense & Sensibility and Mr. Davies explained that he started his screenplay with Willoughby seducing Eliza because this–not the Dashwood deaths with which the book begins–for him is the real start of the story. It was very much an anti-Willoughby interpretation–he described him as “a glamorous shit”–but like many of us he had problems with this novel. It’s too much “about girls filling in their time waiting by the phone for unsatisfactory men who don’t respond in the right way.”

And then there’s Edward–how do you explain a hero who’s too scared to break off an engagement to a woman he no longer loves, and lies to and deceives both her and the woman he really does love? So he inserted a scene in which Edward pours out his heart to Elinor about his family’s expectations and how he wants to be a simple country parson–heck, they virtually do each others’ nails–which naturally led the women involved in the production to complain that now he wasn’t butch enough. Hence the woodchopping scene (ooh, wet shirt), inspired by a woodcutting scene in Davies’ favorite movie, Shane. Incidentally, if you are familiar with English slang you’ll appreciate the hilarity of the cast when Fanny[‘s] hair was mentioned.

I also loved what he had to say about Emma, which was the underappreciated version starring Kate Beckinsale. There’s a very long and funny story about the scene with Emma, Knightley and the baby which I won’t relate here, but he had these extremely perceptive comments about the novel:

She’s a fearful snob with no insight whatsoever who treats other people as though they were dolls or toys. Either she’s very young and a slow developer, or she’s an artist, a creator, a novelist who’s too lazy to write… Austen always has a girl or two who are disadvantaged and succeed despite the efforts of a rich bitch…

in this case the rich bitch is our heroine Emma and the disadvantaged girl Jane Fairfax:

Jane Fairfax is possessed of a deep and passionate nature. She’s had the misfortune to fall in love with a handsome psychopath; she’s sexually in thrall to a man she has little respect for.

He believes Frank did seduce her in Weymouth and he also mused on Mr. Knightley visiting the Woodhouses every day for years. Why? Not to visit Mr. Woodhouse, surely. He proposed a Tennessee Williams-like scenario in which the young Mr. Knightley visited Mrs. Woodhouse and then transferred his affections to her daughter (hopefully after Emma was 16 or so). Yikes.

And, oh yes, P&P, wet shirt and all, and the title of this post is what Davies saw as the governing idea behind the book–sex, money, and physicality. It explains why he saw the beginning of the story, not with the famous quote, but with Bingley leasing Netherfield, hence masculine guys galloping around on big horses (with Elizabeth being “strangely excited” when she sees them from a distance).

After that it was a question of finding as many opportunities as possible for undressing. The film crew referred to his frequent scenes where Lizzy and Jane exchange confidences in their nightgowns as “hair and shoulders shots.”

He decided to bring Georgianna much more into the story, originally to show “Darcy being tender with girls.” As he pointed out, until Georgianna shows up we’re not even sure Darcy likes women. But I was surprised to learn that his favorite scene is with Georgianna, Elizabeth, Darcy and the Bingleys and as it opens Elizabeth sings an aria from The Marriage of Figaro. As Georgianna plays next, Miss Bingley makes snide comments about the regiment moving to Brighton and brings up Wickham’s name. Georgianna stumbles on a note at the piano and Elizabeth moves in to protect her, apologizing that she should have realized the music was too difficult to play without someone to turn the pages. She and Darcy exchange one of those long, significant glances (ooh).

What’s your favorite Davies’ screenplay? And do you agree or disagree with what he said about the novels?

Alert! Last day to enter the contest on my website (yes I know it says October 26 but it’s still up so go for it) and you have a chance to win a copy of Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion at My Jane Austen Book Club.

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