Monday, 2 May 2016

Expanding Jane Austen's World - better late than never! ;-)

Look what I found!
I just found this on my computer!
I completely forgot that I wrote this for another blog and I meant to post it on here too.  I sincerely apologise that it skipped my mind.

Better late than never, eh? 

So here it is... 

Expanding Jane Austen’s world.

Jane Austen has given us 200 years of wonderful bliss from within the pages of her novels.  However, it seems that all those years have done nothing to dampen our desire for her work – in fact; I would say our love of her world has increased.
There are so many continuations, variations, ‘what if’ novels, and re-imaginings of the world she so carefully penned, that it would take an entire lifetime to read them all, I am certain.  Some of them have a modern twist, where carefully woven ‘modern sensibilities’ are intermingled with the social norms of Jane’s day, some time-travel between our world and Jane’s, and some even take on a supernatural twist.  No matter what your preference is, there is a novel out there for you which continues Jane’s world.
Expanding Jane Austen’s world is not an easy task.  None of us truly know what life was like in Regency England.  However, we can draw upon her wonderful books and the history of the time for inspiration.  One thing is certain, all Janeites love to immerse themselves in the world of our beloved Miss Austen, regardless of the twist the modern author has placed upon the tale.
We novelists also love to hear what our readers want us to write about.  There is nothing better than receiving an email saying how much the reader enjoyed the book and asking what will happen to xxx?  Or please write xxx's story!  I know I am not alone in appreciating that.
With my own Pride & Prejudice Continues series, I decided to expand Jane’s most famous novel by wondering what happened next to her characters.  However, my own curiosity lies with what happened to the secondary characters.  My thoughts always did turn to Charlotte Lucas.  She claimed she was not romantic and chose to marry Mr Collins for security, so that she would no longer be a spinster and, therefore, a burden to her family.  But, I always wondered what married life really was like with Mr Collins.  So many readers dislike him intensely.  I cannot blame them – he is a bit of a buffoon.  However, what was his story?  Why was he like that?  And, perhaps most important of all, how did Charlotte cope with such a married life? 
My second novel in the series takes us to Rosings and Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne.  Within those pages I allowed my imagination to stretch to another interest of mine – the Regency period itself – the Napoleonic wars, The Prince Regent, great poverty among the majority of the nation while the Darcy’s lived it up together with a mere 1% of the country who were also rich.  There were other topics which we tend to think of as modern, men gaining access to women’s rooms, homosexuality – which was punishable by death, but within the upper-classes, it was mostly ignored, especially as many past-kings were thought to have been homosexual.  Jane touched on fornication and illegitimacy in her work, but also, adultery and mistreatment of other human beings were rife in the period.  I like the idea of weaving these elements into my novels.  Lady Catherine is a powerful woman who really has her world shaken in book two and I am told it made her more ‘human’.  Anne, as we can imagine, has lived for so long under her mother’s shadow that we wonder if she has a will of her own at all!
So, now I am writing book number 3 in the series, and I take so much delight in writing about the time of the Napoleonic wars.  In Pride & Prejudice itself, Jane mentioned the militia, soldiers and she even had colonels in her works, however, she did not tell us much about what they did.  Book 3 will centre around Lydia and George Wickham.  They’re such fun characters to write about.  Lydia is selfish and rather childish, and Wickham, well, he’s one of Jane’s most loveable and infamous bad-guys!  It would be impossible for a soldier or an officer such as Wickham to avoid conflict and going to war – so off to the continent he will go in my Pride & Prejudice Continues book 3.
The novel is progressing well and I hope to have it winging its way onto your shelf or Kindle very soon!

I am certain there will be books based on Jane Austen’s for decades, if not centuries to come.  In our fast-paced, high-tech world, there is nothing so wonderful than for a book to whisk us away from it all.  There is nothing better than switching off all our gadgets and being transported, via the pages of a good book, to Merryton and to our beloved Bennet family, is there?  Why do I and other writers today continue the wonderful works of Jane Austen?  It is simply because, we, like you, can’t get enough of her world either.