Why Jane Austen?

Why Jane Austen?

Last time I posted, I told you a little bit about me and how I became a Jane Austen/JAFF fan. This time, I thought I would share a little bit more.

Many of you already know that early last month, I and four other fantastic writers, one of whom is a fellow Austen Author, went to Washington, DC and gave a presentation at the local Jane Austen Society meeting. I gave a speech in which I presented the reasons why each of us writes Jane Austen Fan Fiction, we shared excerpts from our books, and then we had a question and answer session. It was a wonderful time, and we answered some very good questions. But, if you were not there, you did not get to hear me speak; therefore, I have chosen for this blog post to share with you my answer to the question, “Why Jane?”

me in DC

I have three big reasons for why I love Jane Austen and write Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

First, I am a hopeless romantic, and while I know that Jane did not write Pride & Prejudice as a romance, to me it’s the ultimate romantic story. What could possibly be better than Darcy, who, while keeping his basic personality intact, improved his manners for a woman he didn’t think he’d ever see again? And then, when he did see her, he made every effort to demonstrate to her the improvements to himself he had made. To top it off, he still loved her and pursued her, even though she had abused him so strongly in her refusal of his proposal. Wow. I don’t know a single, solitary man in the whole of my acquaintance who would have set aside his anger, hurt, and pride to chase someone who had so soundly rejected him.

~swoon~

Second, the Regency period in England has always been one of my favorite periods in history. Yes, I know there were evils in that society. There were and are in every group of people and every time period. However, you don’t often find such fascinating things going on in such a short amount of time like you do in the Regency. I like to compare it to the Wild West here in the United States, another time period that I love. Both were of short duration, about twenty years. Both involve a small group of people, to some extent. The American West was sparsely populated at that time, and the group that I love to write about, the ton, was also small, compared to the rest of the England. And, the ways of doing things and getting around were very similar, as both involved horses and carriages and new technologies. One can compare the advent of barbed wire in the States to the enclosure of common areas in England, as an example.

My third reason for writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction is that Jane’s themes are just as applicable today as they were two hundred years ago, and it is fun to take things that happen today and imagine them as they would have happened in her lifetime. For example, I am a huge NASCAR fan, and I was able to translate my love of racing into a scene that became the opening of my third book, Promises Kept.

As Elizabeth sat in the slow-moving carriage, looking out the window at the hustle and bustle of London, her mind was elsewhere. She was thinking back to the ride she shared with her husband yesterday.

He had ordered their horses saddled before leaving his dressing room. After rousing her from sleep, he persuaded her to go with him. After breaking their fast, they rode to the outskirts of the city, to a large empty field. To her surprise, there was a track worn into the grass all around the edge. She was further surprised to be challenged by her husband to a race. Never one to let such a provocation go unanswered, she agreed. Around and around the field they raced, for seven laps. The groom who had accompanied them was pressed into service to count the laps and to wave a handkerchief to signal the end of the contest.

Lizzy was thrilled with the feeling of the horse moving under her, the thudding of his hooves hitting the ground vibrating up through her bottom,  and the air whizzing past her face. Clucking her tongue and tapping him with her riding crop, she urged the horse to go faster and faster, first to catch up to Fitzwilliam, and then to pass him. They ran neck and neck for a while, and at the end she beat him by just a nose. Exhilarated, she cheered, shrieking her joy in a most unladylike fashion, raising her arms high in the air, then bringing them down to clap loudly. Her husband laughed out loud. Her joy was infectious and he enjoyed seeing it. This was his goal in bringing his beloved wife to this place. He knew that she loved racing her friends and family. She had not had opportunity in a long while to do so.

Bringing her horse around, she trotted him up close beside her husband’s. Giving Fitzwilliam a cheeky smile, she leaned over for a kiss.

“Very good, Sweetheart. I did not know you were capable of such a feat,” he said to her with a laugh.

“Did you not?” she asked, teasing him in return. “I certainly did. Both my horse and I are so much younger than you; ‘twas not a difficult task.” She tossed her head as she spoke, raising her nose in the air as she had seen so many high society women do in recent days during her visits. Her words and manner drew another laugh from Fitzwilliam. Drawing his horse to a stop and dismounting, he reached for her, pulling her out of the saddle and into his arms. As the groom, with eyes averted, led the horses away for a further cool-down, Elizabeth’s joyous laugh was suddenly stopped by her husband’s ardent kiss.

PromisesKept -Burton thumb

The authors who shared the spotlight with me at the JASNA meeting that day gave equally compelling reasons for writing what they do. As a writer, and as a generally nosy person, I found it interesting to hear their motivations and how they came to share one of my passions.

As I was preparing this post and contemplating how to end it, I came up with this question…. I have told you why I read and write JAFF. Now you tell me why you read (and/or write) it. What do you like best about it? What makes it better or worse than reading the original Jane Austen books? I’m eager to read your replies!

19 Responses to Why Jane Austen?

  1. What a wonderful post and excellent comments! For myself, I love Jane-inspired stories because I don’t want her stories to end, and I don’t want her characters to die. Jane fiction lets them live on, not just in the past but in the here and now. At the same time, these stories often inspire me to dig out real historical events that are woven into the story line. It has also been a great pleasure to “meet” so many other people who love Jane, whether writing, reading, watching movies, etc. Many thanks for posting this!

    • You’re welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting! I also did not want Jane’s characters to die, which is why I began searching first for more of her books and then, after finding JAFF (before I even knew it was called that) reading everything I could find and writing my own. I love how our shared passion for Austen and her work brings us all together! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed your post and it really made me think about my reasons for loving Austen and the Regency era. However, I may save those thoughts for a post of my own. 🙂

  3. Why do I read Jane Austen? First, as others have said, many of the themes are relevant today. We still see class snobs and even in teenagers, mean girls criticizing dress and the car a family drives and the house one lives in etc. I love the manners and dress described..although I would not want to live in those times. The historical romances have more obstacles that our modern sexually freed generation and in not having the media to communicate so many times there were surprises as to events. Now so much is on FB or Twitter, etc. but is it all true or just gossip? Then and now. But last of all I read to escape. The men are so much more attentive than men in my world. May you are lucky to have an attentive other but I don’t and don’t see much around me either. Everyone is so busy. Little time to really sit and talk. There is a game to watch or a game to attend much less shops and more social events for the individual vs what couples attended together in those Regency times. Golf games take my husband out of the house for 5 or 6 hours so he eats and goes to bed when he comes home. Enough said.

    • I also read to escape, so I totally understand where you are coming from there! As far as sex, I would prefer to live in a time when society is not as free as it is now, but this is the time in which I live, so I must deal with it. 🙂 Like you, though, I love the manners and dress, and I’ll even add in the dancing! Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  4. I read a variety of fiction and nonfiction, but I keep coming back to Austen and stories of the Regency. The Regency was a period of the cusp of change – Napoleonic Wars, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in England, the redefining of the “sun never setting” upon the Great Britain empire, the return to deep social mores, etc. It fascinates me.

  5. Hey, Zoe! I love your reasons! To answer your questions as briefly as I can…
    1. I love playing with stories and altering them. I always have. And Jane Austen’s stories are so fun to play with (because I love them 😉 )
    2. I also love the regency period and sweet romance and happily ever afters.
    3. What is great about JAFF is the fact that the story doesn’t have to end. It can be re-imagined and extended. What I don’t like is a lot of relationship drama…I do not like seeing my boys or my girls tortured or treated poorly. 🙂
    4. Something else that is great about writing JAFF….I can develop secondary characters and give them happy endings.

  6. Loved your post Zoe. Isn’t it fun to get together with some other JAFFers? A few years ago I went to a tea the the Drake and met Beth Massey and Betty Jo along with a few others who were really into JAFF. It was so fun. Best Wishes with your new career. Jen Red

  7. I simply love Jane Austen…period. I love the HEA, the struggle to overcome insurmountable obstacles, man’s desire for woman, woman’s desire for man, the search for a love match, and that longing for one’s soul mate. I can’t help it.

    With your love of Austen and NASCAR you have the perfect opportunity to combine them and write a modern P&P around your two great loves. The billionaire mogul of Darcy Enterprises also loves and races NASCAR. You have Mr. Darcy senior [still alive at this time or not], his son Fitzwilliam and godson Wickham as drivers of the Pemberley cars, and daughter Georgiana [heiress] as the pawn Wickham uses for his evil purposes. You have the knowledge and expertise to use dialogue and descriptions of the race environment that would bring it all to life. All the elements are there. I would read it.

    • Ah, you have caught me out…I actually do have a NASCAR-themed story partially plotted out. Of course, to publish, I will have to change the name, as they are very protective of it and reluctant to allow anyone to use it, and I’m not sure I have it in me to beg them for it. Still, I think it will be a great story. 🙂

      I can’t help loving Austen, as well. I’m always shocked when I hear people say they don’t like her. I’m always, like, “What’s not to love??”

      Thanks so much for sharing your reasons and for your encouragement! 😀

      • OOOPS! I didn’t mean to blow your WIP [work in progress]. However, you now get to call your racing empire anything you want. It is your universe. I was just so excited hearing you talk about your two loves and thought you could combine them. Of course, as a writer, you had already thought of that. So, I’ll just wait patiently for the finished work no matter how long it takes. So keep up the writing. JWG

        • LOL No problem! I get asked a lot about it. 🙂 I keep putting it off because I’m not sure there will be much interest, but maybe I should put myself out there and do it? Thanks again! 🙂

          • I love the car racing idea, Zoe! You should totally take it and run with it. I would personally do a wink wink nudge nudge tongue-in-cheek name for the organization. Something like:

            Junior
            Association
            For
            Fast
            Car
            Auto
            Racing

            LOL.

Your thoughts are precious!