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?”
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.
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.
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!