Aloha, Austen fans! Today’s guest post for our Austen in August event comes from author Amanda Grange! Please give her a warm welcome. Also, Amanda’s publisher, Penguin Group USA, has a special treat for us – read on to learn more!
I’ve been in love with Jane Austen’s books since I was about thirteen when I first discovered Pride and Prejudice in my local library. I quickly devoured Jane’s other books and read them again many times over the following decades. But in my thirties, my relationship with Austen changed because I became a writer, and I found myself looking at her books in a different way.
I was re-reading Pride and Prejudice one day and I was astonished at how modern it was in terms of style and tone. It had many of the features that editors look for today in a new submission: a lot of dialogue, a fast pace and a plot so perfect it has become the standard template for romantic fiction ever since. But the one thing it didn’t have, which a modern romance would have, was a selection of scenes from the hero’s point of view.
I was intrigued by this and I started to write some of the scenes from his point of view for my own amusement. The whole thing snowballed and those scenes ultimately became Mr Darcy’s Diary. It fascinated me to find that the book could be successfully turned round in this way, because with most books the impetus would fade away or holes in the plot would be revealed. But Pride and Prejudice is like a perfectly formed piece of porcelain. It’s so well made it can be viewed from any angle and it still rings true.
With her other books, the same applies, and this led me to write a whole series of retellings which are now usually known as “the heroes’ diaries”. Jane’s books have so much depth that I was able to write complete back stories for the heroes, using the information contained in the original novels, before going on to look at the events of the original novels through the eyes of the hero. In the cases of Colonel Brandon’s Diary, Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Henry Tilney’s Diary, the back stories form almost half the book.
It might reasonably be assumed that my Austen obsession would have ended with the end of my series of heroes’ diaries, but in fact the more I examine Jane’s works, and her style of working, the more fascinating they become. Somehow, the books set up resonances in me and I find myself thinking, ‘I wonder . . . .’
‘I wonder . . .’ led me to write my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.
We know that Jane often used the epistolary form as a young woman, and Lady Susan still exists in this form. There is reasonable speculation that Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were also originally written in letter form, before being extensively reworked.
I found myself wondering, in idle moments, what the epistolary version of Pride and Prejudice must have been like. Where did it begin? With Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield Park, or earlier? The latter, I thought, as we know that Jane later “lopt and cropt” the original text in order to turn it into the book we know today.
Rather like a forensic detective I found myself wondering how the story was carried, if it had no narrative to help it along. How would readers learn of the disastrous first proposal, for example? Were there initially more characters who were edited out when Jane had a narrative form to help her tell the story?
I began to write a few letters between the characters, piecing together the story like a giant jigsaw puzzle, to see how Jane could have managed it. Over the years I added to the letters, creating new characters as necessary, until I could no longer stop myself finishing the novel. The result was my new book, Dear Mr Darcy. It’s a unique glimpse into Jane’s early working methods as well as an entertaining read and I hope fans of Pride and Prejudice adaptation will enjoy it.
Giveaway closed & Winner notified. Thanks again to Penguin Group, USA for offering a copy and to Amanda Grange for taking time to stop by!
Thanks, Amanda, for taking time to stop by and share with us your love of Jane Austen. For more information about Amanda’s books, please visit her website at www.amandagrange.com.
Being a die-hard Austen fan, I’ve never read any of the “spin-offs”. Although, I’m thinking it may be time…
Thanks for sharing!
And of course I want to participate in the giveaway…
jerseygirl (at) online (dot) no
Not sure if I am an official Austen in August participant due to my late enrollment but I am reading Captain Wentworths Diary & am a fan of your writing Amanda. Would love to read your new book!
sweetlime72 (at) gmail (dot) com
I’m looking forward to reading DEAR MR. DARCY. I have not read any spin off books, but they do beckon.
awesome to have Ms. Amanda Grange here! i have her book Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and if i still have time i plan to read it for the event. i remember gifting e-copies of this to a handful of blogger friends when Kobo had a promo. lucky ones!
thanks for having her here Adam and please count me in for the giveaway.
Great post, thank you so much for sharing! I would love to read your new book!! =) elyssa.n.anderson(at)gmail(dot)com
Thanks for all the comments.
Maggie, if you’re thinking of trying a spin-off, I’d recommend the diary of your favourite hero as a good place to start. Or of course Dear Mr Darcy!
Lara, I hope you like Cpt Wentworth’s Diary, it’s one of my favourites. It was when I was writing this book that I realized I was going to write a whole series because I was well and truly hooked.
Hi Mary, I hope you enjoy Dear Mr Darcy. It’s quite a responsibility knowing my books are often readers’ first dip into spin offs so I hope they don’t disappoint.
Ah, Mr Darcy Vampyre, my most contentious book. Aobibliophile, you might like to know that it’s based on the nineteenth century Gothic novels Jane Austen herself liked to read. It can read a little strangely to modern eyes but you can learn more about it here http://www.mrdarcyvampyre.blogspot.co.uk
Thanks for looking in, Elyssa. Good luck!
And thanks to Adam for hosting me.
What an excellent suggestion, Amanda, to begin with a diary of our fave hero!
That , in fact, is what I did and with your own Mr Darcy’s Diary 🙂 well worth the intro ! TY !
Great guest post, I’m looking forward to eventually reading some of Amanda Granger’s work that I unfortunately haven’t had the time to read yet. 🙂
I know the giveaway is from Penguin USA but is it international? If so, then I’ll get in on it. 🙂
Thanks, Samantha! Unfortunately, this one is USA only, but there are more giveaways (one starts tomorrow, another hosted by Dizneeee ends tonight) that International participants should be able to participate in… more later this month, too!
I love the idea of an epistolary version of P&P! That’s so unique. Amanda Grange’s books were some of the first Austen-esque books I ever read and I’m sure this one will be just as good! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!
What a fascinating look at Ms. Grange’s process! I’m thoroughly intrigued by the diaries series and had added Colonel Brandon’s Diary to my TBR list right before this event. Thank you for the giveaway!
I teach many Austen novels to my students and I’d love to read this and introduce it to my students.
Caribellacreations at gmail dot com
I’d love to win a copy of DEAR MR. DARCY. I’ve read a few of the spin-offs, and I enjoyed reading how Amanda Grange came to write her epistolary version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
I was been able to read the first novel by Amanda Grange’s that had been translate in our language, to bad those translation edition so horrible, so I can’t finished it 😦
Then after I looks for the English edition, there are not ready-stock on import bookstore, ….so I’m just so curious to read & getting to know about her works on Austen’s
Hobbybuku (at) gmail (dot) com
Definitely loving this opp to win Amanda’s newest treat 🙂 Cheers Amanda !!
Having just posted my review of the great Penguin Reader audio of Persuasion, I am confident this selection will be another top quality publication! and thank you for the giveaway generosity!
faithhopecherrytea at*gmail*dot com
I’m a huge fan of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre! It explains so much of the turning points in Austen’s original as issues related to his secret identity. suzanlauder at gmail dot com