I have heard some comments about the fact that, with so many new Indie authors (independent or self-publish authors), that everyone is just out to make a buck and do not care about being true to Jane Austen’s work. There are also comments that there are too many Indie authors publishing stories now. What do you think?
Is this using Jane Austen’s work to make a profit or is it taking cherished characters for a spin, and keeping the love of them alive? You decide, but personally, I think it is the latter. We are able to give the characters we love a twist (yes, I know, my books are sometimes MAJOR TWISTS), or give a new way of looking at why characters behaved the way they did. It is like Jane Austen gave us the frame work, but left much room for the imagination to expand on.
There are questions such as what were the first names of some of the major characters? We know them as Mrs Bennet, Mr and Mrs Gardiner, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and more. We have had so many authors give the characters the same names, such as Colonel Fitzwilliam is often written as Richard. Mr Gardiner is often Edward, Mrs Bennet is often Fanny.
What were the Colonel’s parents’ names? Many refer to them as Lord and Lady Matlock. These names were not in the original story. This surprises many fans, as they are so used to the fan fiction authors using the same names, it seems as if that is what the character’s name should be.
And then you look at what the characters did in the story. It surprises many that the scene in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, where Darcy dives into the pond of water at Pemberley, was never in the book.
What were Mr and Mrs Darcy like, to make Darcy so taciturn? Did they have a loving marriage or a marriage of convenience? Where did Darcy go after leaving Rosings, after being denied Elizabeth’s hand? What was he doing in between leaving Netherfield and arriving at Rosings?
Due to Jane Austen’s spaces in the story, we are allowed to use our imagination to fill in the questions. To me, this is her way of giving us the characters, the love we feel for Elizabeth and Darcy, the love to hate characters such as Lady Catherine, Caroline Bingley, and Wickham, the settings of Longbourn, Netherfield, Pemberley, and Rosings, and says “go for it”. That is what I love about writing with the characters. I know where I want to be with them in the end, as all of my stories have Darcy and Elizabeth happily married and in love with each other. Now, where do I want to begin? What has happened in the past to make the characters what they are? What do they do to achieve their happily ever after?
Another thing I like about all the new authors is the different writing styles. I have had people say that my stories are far from the original. Yes, that is why it is a variation. It is written in my style, as I cannot write in the same style as JA. We are from different times and places, with different ways of doing things. I cannot write in the same manner she did, and I will not attempt to say otherwise. I try to be true to Darcy and Elizabeth in their characters, but enjoy playing with the other characters. Being dyslexic, some styles of writing are difficult for me to read, and others flow easily for me, so having choices of styles is a blessing for me.
Another aspect of being a JAFF author is being able to enlighten people on who Jane Austen was. I have several fans who love my work, yet have never read Pride and Prejudice. But, through me, they have learned about Jane Austen and her work. It allows me a chance to pass on a bit from an amazing woman, who never received proper recognition when she was alive. It is my hope that, in another 200 years, Jane Austen will still be remembered and even more popular than she is today.
So, to wrap things up, I wish to say thank you to all the JAFF authors. You have given me many hours of enjoyment, frustration when I have to wait for the next book to come out (I hate having to wait, and my memory goes on overload, so I end up having to re-read the first book). And you have given me many ideas of “what if this had been different?” You keep my mind alert and learning, wanting to know more. And I can never get enough of Darcy, Lizzy, and the cast of characters. Keep writing, write longer stories, and tell me in advance if it is part of a series, so I will have hair left on my head, rather than pulling it out when I reach the end of the first book (Yes, Elizabeth Ann, I am still waiting on your next book in the Consequences of Marriage series). JAFF forever, my dear friends. JAFF forever.
Oh, and for you who live in Utah, and are in the area of Salt Lake City on December 5th and December 12th, there will be a book signing with JAFF authors (and fellow Austen Authors members) Jeanna Ellsworth, Rebecca Jamison, and Diana Oaks. We will be at Sorenson Unity Center (1383 South 900 West, SLC) from 10am to 6pm. Come on over and visit us.