My next book, The Austen Escape. launches next week on Tuesday, Nov. 7th… Doesn’t it sound like the publisher is shooting it from a canon with the hope it will land somewhere safe? Each launch feels suspiciously like that. 🙂
Anyway, as we are Austen fans here, I’d love to share a little about it… While the title denotes significant influences from Austen’s works, the inspiration for the story came from many places. One source was a C.S. Lewis novel and the other was a nonfiction book positing on how we become our best selves. And the Austen story it draws upon most is Northanger Abbey. Like all my books, this isn’t a retelling of Northanger Abbey. It’s a contemporary story that draws up allusions across all Austen, dipping deepest within Northanger Abbey. The question, though, that started all came from the nonfiction book and what I saw Catherine Morland seeking… Her best self. Not just love, but a place within herself where she was awake, questioning, thinking and striving to be all that she could be. How do we become our best selves? What do we (or what do two young women in my novel) need to lay down or pick up to reach that best self? And so… The Austen Escape began.
To let my heroines Mary and Isabel explore an answer to that question, I needed to take them out of themselves. They needed to escape a reliance upon the familiar and what they thought they knew. Austen understood the brilliance of this idea when, in Mansfield Park, she places a play within her story. It is within “Lovers’ Vows,” that her characters truly express themselves and we, the reader, begin to suspect what mischief will soon ensue. It is by hiding, each character is revealed. I loved the idea and the freedom it gave so I did the same – I first took Isabel and Mary out of their comfort zone and flew them from Austin, TX to Bath, England. Then I folded them further into and escape by landing them within a Regency costumed holiday.
Also by removing the heroines from all that was comfortable, I could shake them up bit. Perhaps I shook Isabel too hard. 😉 You can decide that one… For my part, the new destination and the costumes allowed Mary gain new perspective and Isabel to heal. These two women had been close friends since age eight, but many aspects of that friendship were no longer healthy. Both needed a new perspective. The Austen Escape, in many ways, explores, what would force two life-long friends to call it quits vs. what might make them want to stick together.
Well, these two head off to Bath and secrets are revealed and misunderstandings occur… And, like in Austen, everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one. 🙂 But unlike Austen – my Mary gets one too… After all, it’s not her fault her name is Mary. (Anyone ever wonder if Austen had something against Marys. None of her Marys are very likable. Mary Crawford is vivacious and interesting, but would you trust her?)
Thanks so much for letting me share with you today. Next month, this launch will be behind me and I’ll be on to something new. I think we’ll discuss the movie Enchanted. 🙂
Talk soon… Katherine