Happy Autumn, ya’ll! My neck of the woods just started dipping into the 40s and 50s, so it’s sweater weather, YAY! +10 points if you accessorize with overpriced coffee!
Some may not know, but I wrote and published my first book in September 2011. Back then, the world of indie publishing as we know it today was still in diapers! Now, it’s evolved to nearly 40% of all Amazon sales (Data Guy, 2015) but in the early days, authors of all genres had to stick together!
Since joining the ranks of writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction last year, a genre near and dear to my heart and inducing major eye strain since the mid-2000s, I have brought amazing authors from other genres over to our happy, happy world of balls, marriage dramas, and our favorite dear couples! Have you read Barbara Silkstone’s Mister Darcy Series? My fault. What about L K Rigel? Yep, guilty there, too. April Floyd? She was my editor for my first six books and has been my business partner for 2 years prior to that! And check out Jemma Thorne’s new modern, that’s a pen name of an author I know who writes smashing fairy tale and folklore stories!
It’s not like I go up to just any author and say “You must write JAFF!” but Jane Austen is so loved the world over, MOST of the time when I get on my JAFF soapbox people marvel about this genre of books they didn’t know existed. As in, the paint guy at the Home Depot last summer jotted down my name on register tape to share with his wife because she LOVES Jane Austen. LOL.
So in the spirit of screaming at the top of my lungs on why we need more JAFF written, here are 5 reasons for everyone with a story idea in them to get to typing (or dictating, I love my Dragon!). And I am talking to all of you with a love of Austen and a story idea reading this post. Get to writing!
#5 The movie, TV adaptations take too long to make.
Every 10 years or so we get a variation that is much loved and then defended by the fandom. And slowly we are getting more and more JAFF for our viewing pleasure (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes out in February) but it takes sooo long to make a movie or TV show. Years. Jane Austen fans do not have that long to wait. We need more JAFF to keep everyone happy with new stories and ideas.
#4 More JAFF equals keeping Jane alive in the modern reader’s heart and mind.
I am a reader who had little appreciation for the original novel until AFTER I read page-turning JAFF. (Don’t Insult My Jane!) Jane Austen is viewed today as a historical writer, but she was a contemporary writer in her time. Just like 200 years from now readers may need a definition for “twerk,” I needed a thrilling introduction to the vocabulary of Jane Austen’s novels. Reading JAFF naturally introduces the Regency vocabulary to readers in a non-threatening way because no writer can completely keep their modern voice out of the prose.
#3 More JAFF authors means a larger #TeamJane
It’s hard out there for a book! In a niche genre like JAFF, unless you have a couple dozen authors working together on social media, with the samples in the back of their books, at conferences like next week’s AGM, the niche dies. It takes WORK to keep the word out there that there are these wonderful stories with familiar characters and setups to tickle your imagination. One, two, three authors, even big name authors, can’t do it all on their own. The more the merrier!
#2 Jane Austen’s stories are remarkably flexible.
Although Jane Austen was a masterful storyteller, the woman left many things unexplored. All of the great writers do. What happened after? What happened at Longbourn while Jane was in London and Elizabeth was in Kent? What about in Antigua in Mansfield Park? The modern reader is addicted to director’s cuts, series guides, and storylines that span years of episodes. The more explorations and reimaginations we do in Jane Austen’s world, the more captivating the original novels become to a whole new audience. Also, many of the social ills that Jane Austen touched on in side stories or tangents to her main plots are still alive today. We can still carry on her work of social commentary with our JAFF.
#1 Jane deserves to be free.
I’d love to say our society is the polar opposite of the strict gender roles that Jane Austen lived in. There are many, many changes, but there’s also still room for improvement. Every author brought into writing for the genre posthumously allows Jane Austen to stick it a little bit more to those powers that said as a woman, she could not write. As a lady, she must publish anonymously. As a female, she should be paid a pittance. Bringing authors with success in other genres to JAFF brings new readers to our world, too. Win-win-win. 🙂 I love to be a little bit of a crusader for the genre, using the love of Jane Austen to emphasize the fact that the oppressed need not stay oppressed. It takes time, but eventually, we can prevail!
And I honestly think Miss Austen would approve. I think if she saw the far reaches and influences of her stories today, she would be stunned at what one lady with a sharp wit and quill could unleash upon the world. The pen is mightier than the sword, so I vote we train a whole army of pen wielders!