I’m thrilled today to welcome Syrie James, one of my favorite Austenesque authors. Syrie is giving away a copy of her latest book, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, to one person who comments today.
Syrie James is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, Dracula My Love, Nocturne, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages. In addition to her work as a novelist, she is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Syrie’s talking about a subject close to the Riskies’ hearts today–research. Take it away, Syrie….
I had done a great deal of Austen and Regency era research when I wrote my novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, an education which has been enhanced over the years by additional reading and by JASNA’s many fun and informative conferences and meetings. I’d visited England many times including a wonderful, self-guided Jane Austen tour several years before.
To add to that background, I paid great attention to the story structure, character types, character arcs, locations, situations, and themes of Austen’s novels, to ensure that the book would fit within her canon, and be the kind of novel she might have written. I immersed myself in research about life in the Regency era. I pored over the annotated versions of Austen’s novels edited by David M. Shapard, finding valuable information about the world and the language in the annotations themselves. I re-read Jane Austen’s letters again and again, because they are full of a wealth of small details.
The novel also required research into a variety of additional subjects related to specific aspects of the story. I found a friend and Londoner who was kind enough to research obscure facts for me, such as clerical stipends and the cost of nineteenth-century bell forging. She also read the first draft of the manuscript to make sure it didn’t contain any egregious Americanisms.
For the modern day story, I worked with a doctor to hammer out and verify the medical details, such as Mary I. Jesse’s condition, the subplot regarding Samantha’s doctor boyfriend, and the back story regarding her mother’s illness. I worked with a university Special Collections Librarian to understand Samantha’s current occupation, and with an English professor to gain insight into Samantha’s teaching background.
I contacted Oxford University for details regarding their doctoral program. I researched the sales records for the most expensive manuscripts ever sold. I studied the way sales are conducted at Sotheby’s Auction House. And of course I continued to re-read Austen’s novels the entire time I was writing, to keep her voice in my head!
Question of the day–what’s YOUR ideal research trip?
Update: Entries open until Saturday 12 midnight EST.
Think I’m going to be close on my upcoming trip to England–Winchester and Bath to see Regency era clothing (and the sights, of course–including Jane Austen’s burial site), then a few days in London. Only down side is that the V & A costume collection is closed while it is being moved to a new facility. So I will concentrate on more touristy things in London, likethe Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Harrod’s, maybe the Churchill War Room.
Sounds like a lovely trip. The Maritime museum in Greenwhich and the Churchill War rooms are fantastic! Have a great trip, and thanks for commenting!
First stop: Chawton. Second stop: Bath. And once I’d gotten my fill of Jane (if such a thing is possible), I’d run off to Gretna Green just so I could say I’d done it. Can’t wait to read your new book, Syrie! I loved the Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen!
Thanks, Beth. I hope you enjoy the novel!
Ann, sounds amazing. Greenwich is one of my favorite places in London. I highly recommend going by boat from central London–there are commuter boats and touristy boats, but it really gives you a feel for how huge and bendy the Thames is. The Churchill War Room is great too, a real time capsule.
Bess, who will you take with you to Gretna Green?
Ha ha, Janet! Husband says it’d better be him!
My ideal research trip would be to the Highlands in Scotland. I would wand to get a good feel for the lay of the land, research the foods, dig deeper into the clan system and the conflicts with England.
I think many people would be amazed at the amount of effort put into getting the facts straight for a work of fiction. It makes such a big difference in the final product giving it a special quality. Best of luck with the release of THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT OF JANE AUSTEN.
Will you please take me with you on your trip to Scotland? 🙂 I’ve only been there twice, and not for long enough. Edinburgh in particular is a fascinating city. I’d love to return!
My ideal research trip is to actually go to the places and do research there myself and get feel of places. For example if I was to write a book that takes place in Egyppt I would like to do research there personally. I also would like to get a feel of the culture, values and beliefes of places I am researching too and one of the best ways to do research is to experience it
I totally agree. Nothing can compare to actually visiting the place yourself. 🙂
For my ideal research trip, it would be
London, Bath, Portsmouth and Lyme Regis. I would like to study the
Regency holiday celebrations, parties, balls, assemblies and any society festivities.
Good luck with your newest book!
I would love to go to England and walk the same streets Jane Austen did in her time. See where she lived & get a feel of her world. I would also love to visit all the wonderful museums full of Regency stuff and paintings, sculptures… All the wonderful things you get a glimps of in the movies & wish to see for yourself up close.
The pyramids of Egypt
All of your research trips sound great! For those of you who’d like to make the fantasy a reality, I’m excited to announce that I’m the featured author, along with my dear friend Laurel Ann Nattress of austenprose.com, on a Jane Austen Literary Tour to England this September with Ingenious Travel. I suggested the itinerary myself and it includes Godmersham Park and Goodnestone Park (in Kent), Portsmouth, Lyme, Oxford, Winchester, and Steventon, and ends at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath where we’ll participate in the grand costume parade. It’s going to be amazing! Check my website and austenprose.com, where the tour website link will be posted soon. I hope you can join us!
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