Fun interview at My Jane Austen Book Club

My blog tour is well underway, and I’m having a marvelous time of it.  It’s a lot of work for a lean writer like me, who doesn’t have much in the way of cut scenes from the original story and thus I’m inventing new “outtakes” along the way. Earlier this week, I spent a little time at My Jane Austen Book Club, being interviewed by the gracious Maria Grazia:

 

Thanks so much for hosting me here, Maria, and letting me talk a bit about my new, slightly off-kilter romantic comedy, Mendacity & Mourning.

Tell us about Mendacity & Mourning.
Summed up simply: Mildly depressed boy meets lively girl. Each misunderstands the other’s attachment. Gleeful gossip and mendacious mayhem ensue. Many jokes and metaphors are made about fluffy clouds, errant sheep, lumpy heads, creamed turnips, and the importance of Thursdays in marital felicity on the road to their shared happiness. Also, Kitty idolizes Miss Bingley, there is a naughty artist, and the Fitzwilliams are a colorful bunch who enjoy fruit.

So…some characters are a bit eccentric?
Anyone with the last name of Fitzwilliam is a tad suspect, especially the women. It’s a family joke that Darcy fears making aloud. And a few original characters, such as Peregrine Dumfries, are a little offbeat. The Colonel certainly is put off by the man, and has a slew of insulting nicknames for the man he calls a popinjay. Of course, the Colonel always is a joy to create in any story. Here he is the mustachioed know-it-all and best friend to Darcy, far savvier in the ways of women and the world—or so he thinks. By the end of the story, he simply wants to return to France, thinking that fighting a war is far simpler than fighting his way through “the honeyed fog” of love and marriage and, as his father puts it, “the ol’ rumpity pumpity.”

Is the Colonel your favorite character?
He’s fun, but I’m far too fond of Darcy and Elizabeth and their journeys, separate and together. I love building on the sly wit Jane Austen gave them, and ensuring their foibles and mistakes are very human and relatable.

When did you first read Jane Austen, and when did you discover JAFF?
My route into this world was like that of many others…I read Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility as a teenager and fell in love with the strong, witty, sometimes misguided but always opinionated women in those books and with the voice of the woman who created them. And like so many people, I love stories of unrequited love made whole. One day in my thirties, I found Linda Berdoll’s and Pamela Aiden’s books—so different in style but equally compelling—and it was an easy step from there to the early JAFF websites, like Firthness, Hyacinth Gardens, and Bits of Ivory. A few stories struck a deep chord in me and those variations made me wonder what would happen next to Darcy and Elizabeth. And so I began to write.

A number of readers and reviewers comment on your distinct voice.
When I finally dared to try my hand at writing JAFF, I wrote a few short moderns, and when those found a receptive audience, I wrote a few short regencies. Those tended to be somewhat comic, and although I tried to ensure I was using the formal cadences of Regency times, my more modern voice still came through. I’m not terribly well-read on Heyer or any of the novelists my fellow authors are so conversant on (and I’m a bit intimidated by that), but I’m trained as a journalist to write short meaningful sentences and influenced by the novelists I read in teen years. And much of my writing voice was affected by the old screwball comedies I grew up watching on TV, with the fast-paced, snappy banter between characters. When I started writing, dialogue was the toughest part, but now it is the easiest thing to write. Lucky for me, Austen wrote amazing dialogue and created stories where one can read between the lines and find new depths (and alternative plots and paths).

You’ve written a modern P&P, A Searing Acquaintance, released last year, and now a Regency romantic comedy. What are you writing now?
I’m currently finishing up a modern P&P set in the Midwest, and I’ve written the first third of a more solemn Regency. Each storyline is serious, but I cannot keep my sense of humor bottled up for long, so lighthearted banter and heartfelt yearning are sprinkled throughout.

 

Blog Tour and Other Titbits

Among the things I learned editing Mendacity & Mourning: “tidbits” evolved from the word “titbits”, so my wholesome mention of small bits of gossips became something rather bawdy. Not that the whole book isn’t rather bawdy and cheeky (also NOT a word in common usage in 1811-12. Sheesh.) Anyway… I’ve got a blog tour coming up and I plan cheeky bits and vignettes and deep thinking. Please join me for the fun, and giveaways…

Blog Tour Schedule:

06/19   Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, GA

06/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Author/Character Interview, GA

06/21   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

06/22   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

06/23   More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, GA

06/24   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA

06/25   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, GA

06/26   Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, GA

06/27   Tomorrow is Another Day; Review, GA

06/28   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA

06/29   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, GA

06/30   A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post

07/01   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA

07/02   Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Excerpt, GA

07/03   Diary of an Eccentric; Review

 

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday!

Welcome back to my long-neglected blog. I will be better, and will seek to improve my attentions to this little site! Mendacity & Mourning, my new book from Meryton Press, is about to launch and I want to ensure the public is prepared for my oddball take on our beloved characters in Pride & Prejudice.

M&M Factoid #1: Thursday is the most important day of the week for the married couples in the alternate P&P universe of Mendacity & Mourning. Shocking knowledge for a singleton like Darcy to absorb, but he manages–with the help of some brandy–to understand (and ignore) the flutterings and preenings of his friends and relations. Tune in Friday, when the eBook is released, to learn just why Thursday is so singular!

 

 

Pop culture? Who, Darcy?

There are a lot of references to American pop culture in A Searing Acquaintance, and quite a few of them are unknown to Darcy, raised in England by his British father and American mother. Some of them are likely a bit foreign to readers as well. There’s the music from his mother’s mix tape that Bingley loads onto his iPod, there’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Jetsons. And of course, we cannot forget Elizabeth singing Wagner, a la Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes.

I’d envisioned Anne Fitzwilliam with a little Grace Kelly in her…beautiful, smart and intriguing, and married to an older man she loses interest in. Arthur Darcy said “Norwegian Wood” was her song, an odd compliment. But she was definitely a child of the `60s, hence her love of folksingers. But the music spans decades, her lifetime, really. After all, Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown together because of a James Taylor concert; they bond over the “sweet spot” in “Still Crazy After All These Years;” and finally, they dance to Sinatra.

Yeah, I love music.

 

 

 

 

And here it is. The book and the blog tour!

The book is out. The e-book is, anyway. The paperback is due in the next couple of weeks. And the blog tour is set. *Deep breaths*

A Searing Acquaintance Blog Tour Schedule
 
3/7: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
3/8: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time… 
3/9: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
3/10: Author Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
3/11: Character Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
3/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Babblings of A Bookworm 
3/13: Review at Liz’s Reading Life
3/14: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
3/15: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
3/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
3/17: Guest Post at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice 
3/18: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
3/19: Review at Just Jane 1813
3/20: Excerpt & Giveaway at Delighted Reader 
3/21: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews

 

It’s all pretty wonderful. And very strange to have coworkers and friends who never knew I wrote fiction, let alone adore Jane Austen (or had a romantic novel in me), say they’re reading the book and start asking me questions.  But it’s pretty heartwarming too.

And here it is...designed by the talented Zuki at MP
And here it is…designed by the talented Zuki at MP

On the verge…

….of the cover reveal and the roll-out of A Searing Acquaintance. First-time author here, full of jangly nerves and wide-eyed anticipation. (Does this get old? Do authors grow jaded? Will people like my book? Even the sad parts? I hope so.)

The story has been with me for two years now, and the characters haven’t let go of my imagination. Actually, some of the Darcys and Elizabeths in the very first JAFF I read, some ten years ago, are still in my head too. I adore stories with deep characterization and shadings and I relish memorable dialogue. (And I like parenthetical asides, much to my amazing editor’s chagrin. Sorry, Gail!)
A Searing Acquaintance has been edited, proofed and re-proofed, and is ready for publication by Meryton Press. It will be available soon in Kindle and print versions—in fact, just a couple of weeks from today: March 1.

But first up is the cover reveal on February 15. I’m absolutely thrilled with it and how it conveys a very emotional story. Cover designer Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou did a wonderful job. I’m so grateful to her and to Gail Warner, and to the great people at Meryton Press, especially copyeditor/layout designer Ellen Pickels, and publisher Michele Reed.

And here we go!

Jan Ashton

Hello!

Welcome to the online work-in-progress home of Jan Ashton, the author of A Searing Acquaintance, a modern update of Pride & Prejudice, as well as two dozen short JAFF stories I like to think brim with romance, humor and bits of history. Please take a second to learn a little more about me and to find out about my current projects by clicking on this page’s bells and whistles. I’m more of a writer than a social media maven, but I’m dipping my toe in with a blog that will focus on themes in my novel, including The Made-Up Backstories, Mysteries and Myths of Darcy’s Parents; Central Park’s Greatest Movie Scenes; and The Evolution of Snark.

I’d love for you to leave a thought in the Comments section, but if you’re introverted or reserved (like the master of Pemberley, perhaps?), that’s fine. Just read along and know I am happy to have you stop by for a visit.