Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bumping Jane Austen around

Contest is over ... and the winners of an ARC of Jane and the Damned are...
Nymfaux and Anne!
Please send your snailmail address to jmullany AT comcast DOT net.

... or, how I evolved into a paranormal writer.

Actually, it was quite simple. My editor asked me to become one.

I'm Janet Mullany and far too often in my life, my words, pronounced loud, frequently, and in public, come back to haunt me. Things like Who needs paranormal elements in Regencies? There's so much more interesting stuff in the period no one writes about and it's all true.

Another example was, Of course I'll never write about a nineteen year old virgin prancing around in drawing rooms. The result of that one was The Rules of Gentility, written for the same editor, who gave me this terrific opportunity to subject Jane Austen to blood, biting, and other unwholesome activities in Jane and the Damned, which will be released in October, 2010.

I had changed my mind about paranormal/fantasy elements during the Regency when I read, and was blown away by, Naomi Novik's amazing Temeraire series (I think she may have been one of the writers who prompted my original comment). But I never thought I'd write one or incorporate Austen into a book (You'll never catch me writing an Austen knock-off--oh, shut up already).

But when I thought about it I had dabbled in fantasy when I first started writing, because it was such fun to make stuff up. It still is. And I didn't know what I was writing or going to write then, so I was trying all sorts of things, and I wrote this scene, The Companions Are Chosen for the wonderful Toasted Cheese Literary Journal in 2001. I should point out that it is meant to be a parody, which is why there's so much alliteration and Smeg has (at least) three hands, but I didn't intend the Mighty Phlegm's name to change to Dork halfway through. These things happen.

So I'd never written vampires before and I had to forget all the vamps I'd ever read about: the ones with exhtra letters in their names, the excessively bloody ones, and Terry Pratchett's funny ones that are all about the girls in underwired nighties. I had to have vamps who would fit in in Georgian England (the book is set in 1797) because I wanted them to be "out" and visible in society. I broke some of the vampire rules--the Damned can go out in daylight, for instance, although they like to stay up late partying so they don't generally get up too early. (My critique partners said they sounded like teenagers.) They are oh so sophisticated and the ton adores them and the gossip papers report on their activities. And having a vamp suck your blood--or dine on you, as they'd say--is very, very pleasurable.

So what's not to love about being a vampire? They're damned, immortal but not indestructible, in a culture that takes heaven and hell very seriously. They have too much knowledge: they've seen too much, they've seen love fade, and they've learned not to regret anything.

On the other hand, they do manage to have a very good time. And so does Jane.

How do you feel about incorporating real characters like Jane Austen into fiction? Or which about books about her characters, sequels and prequels, have you read and would recommend?

I have two ARCs of Jane and the Damned to give away today! I'll pick winners by midnight (EST) Friday and post names of the winners at the top of this post on Saturday morning.

There's also a Damned Good Contest taking place on my website and some excerpts, so please go on over and take a look.

32 comments:

Helen Lowe said...

"It's Jane, Janet, but not as we knew her ..."

Sounds like fun, though!

nymfaux said...

OOOOh!!!! Exciting!!!! I've really been wondering about this trend lately...I have yet to read one...mostly because I was traumatized by a technicolor movie version of Pride and Prejudice, when I was a child--Big hats and hoop skirts all over the place...*shudders*

However, I did enjoy some of the more recent movie updates, like Emma and Clueless.

Back to the original question, part of me wonders how this new trend differs from fan-fiction...

Although I'm a little bit wary/tentative/hesitant to embrace it yet, because I think the originals can certainly stand on their own--I also know that when I find something good, I can't get enough of it, telling, retelling, alternate tellings. In the end, my opinion is always that "good" is "good," and it will stand on its own, whether it be the original text, or a re-telling, if it's good, I'll enjoy it.

Except for Jane Eyre; don't mess with Jane Eyre.

I'd love the chance to read your story--is it sad that I'm more frightened of Austen than vampires? Well, either way, it sounds like a good read!

Nicholas Johnson said...

I haven't read any Jane Austen -- I do have a bunch on my Kindle waiting to be read though. However, your vampires sound really interesting and I'd love to read this book.
That said, I also haven't read any of the books that have come out recently adding zombies, vampires and/or sea monsters into classics or with real characters. I've been curious, but I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

tetewa said...

These sound like they would be great fun, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

Lauren said...

It is an interesting trend. I really like the concept if the books are well done. I think it may even get other people back into reading classics because they want to compare. Throwing together classics with the supernatural DOES sound like fun and I will definitely continue to give these types of novels a chance.

Cassie C said...

I've actually have never a Jane austen book but I hear they are good

cassie c

Sarah said...

I know I've said this before, but I love this cover!
I haven't read any of the Jane knock-offs yet, so you'll be my first. Does that make me a 32 year old Jane-virgin? I'm afraid I can't prance and I don't have a drawing room...

Janet Mullany said...

Nymfaux, I regret to tell you I have messed with Jane Eyre...

Janet Mullany said...

Well, you should be frightened of Jane Austen. She was a tough cookie, judgmental, perceptive, smart. Please do read her, though. You may find the language difficult--a lot of formal, complex sentences--but once you're past that, prepare to be impressed and entertained.

I've read P&P&Zombies which I enjoyed, sort of--for a one-joke book it's pretty fun in a frat boy sort of way. I heard the author speak recently and altho he hadn't read any Austen before having to read P&P he obviously has immense love and respect for her writing now.

Sarah, I love the cover too. It's based on a silhouette portrait of Austen and I think it's brilliantly done.

Blodeuedd said...

I do confess that I am a sucker for anything Austen, and I have like 5 sequels waiting for me ;)

The one I really did like was Pride and prejudice and zombies cos it was so freaking funny

Cory said...

It seems like these books would be fun, but I can see how some people do not care for the genre. Personally, I have a copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but I have not read it yet. I am currently reading Shakespeare Undead, and enjoying it.
Your book sounds terrific. I'll definitely be adding it to my reading list!

Merrie Destefano said...

Janet,
I LOVE the concept of incorporating real characters into fiction. I also love historicals, so I think your concept of Jane and the Damned is fabulous. You go, girl! Can't wait to read this book!!
=)
Merrie

Amy V. said...

Janet,
I am very excited about reading "Jane and the Damned" when it comes out because I do think it's an awesome idea to incorporate real people from the past into uniquely different fiction. The idea of something unnatural living in the world alongside us isn't new to our current or past few generations, after all. So whose to say that Jane herself didn't consider putting something that goes bump in the night into her stories but didn't because she might not have been brave enough to push the envelope that far. Men could get away with it more readily and as brave as our little Jane was, I think she would have but maybe she just didn't get around it to before she died. Hmmm? Well, love the idea and can't wait to read it.

FredTownWard said...

Funny thing is, I have yet to read any Jane Austen, even though I own both of the recent adaptations of Jane Austen for the male reader: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters". Also unread is my recent acquisition of another Jane Austen as vampire novel: "Jane Bites Back". However, if I win your book, I will finally have the motivation I need for reading them all and comparing and contrasting them in my subsequent Amazon reviews.

FredTownWard@aol.com

Melissa said...

I've read a few and feelings were mixed. Some were really good adaptations and some not so much. If I were to recommend one... hmm...

I'd have to say "A Little Bit Psychic" by Aimée Avery was pretty good. Small quick read too. I'm sure there is more, but I'm drawing a blank.

Jacqueline C. said...

I recently tried to read a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but I couldn't get through it. It didn't put me off all Jane spin-offs/adaptations though. I think these sorts of books (featuring characters that were real writers or characters already written) are especially difficult since they characters have a history and discriminating fan bases.

nymfaux said...

Janet,

I'm very curious about what kind of reactions you get from your readers about about the contrast between your book and the original--I'm guessing mostly good reactions, because that's what I've been hearing. Do people ever say they have a hard time reading the original without supernatural undertones, after having read your books?

In a sense, I think it might be similar to comparing books to movie adaptations--I know this is the opposite of most people I've met, but whenever possible, I try to watch the movie first--and enjoy both the movie and book better--If I do the reverse, I generally find myself disappointed in the movie for little things (or big things) that leave out, but felt so important in the book.

Although, I just don't think I'm ready for Jane Eyre yet...I still can't watch any movie versions except the 1943 Joan Fontaine/Orson Wells version.

thanks!

Barbara E. said...

I've seen quite a few books in this vein lately, but haven't read any. I guess it's about time I gave one a try, I don't know what I'm missing.

Anne said...

I haven't read any incorporating Jane Austin, but I read mysteries where Ben Franklin was a sleuth and I enjoyed them. Probably because I didn't know that much about him so I wasn't picking apart inaccuracies (sp?).

Bella said...

Well, I loved Pride and Prejudice, and have been eyeing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ... but, err, I guess I haven't felt brave enough to take it on :)

As for what I think about taking classics, and vamping them, or whatever ... well, I can't say it bothers me in particular, but I'm not terribly excited about the idea either ... maybe I'm just not a historical era book kind of person ... but I'd be willing to give one a fair try, I guess, if someone else gave it to me, hehe :P

Jane George said...

I haven't read any Austen adaptations, straight or paranormal. But if Jane & the Damned is HALF as entertaining and witty as The Rules of Gentility, I'm going to have to don Depends before reading.

Krista said...

Would love to have an ARC. this sounds like a combination of many things I enjoy reading! Looking forward to its release

Nicole Murphy said...

Sounds like a fantastic book, Janet. Every post that we put up here, my TBR list gets longer and longer...

I was reminded by this of a friend of mine, who's writing his first sci fi (after years of fantasy) and decided to be clever and put a prominent Australian politician in as a bit part in the early section of his book. To his amazement, this character wouldn't let go and now he's stuck having to consider how to have a real-world human being play an important part in his book.

My friend stomps, complains, curses, but can't get this character to stop talking to him. Me, I just giggle. Yes, I know, bad, bad friend :)

Crystal said...

I've never read any Jane Austen but I do like vampires and anything historical so this sounds like it would be a great read!

Janet Mullany said...

Thanks for dropping by, everyone. It seems like we have a variety of sub-sub-subgenres to choose from, here: prequels and sequels to Austen's works, the monster-mashes, and the books like "Jane Bites Back" which I haven't read because I was afraid it might influence me or depress me because it was better than anything I could write!

Mine's about Austen in 1797 when she visited Bath and wrote no letters, or at least none that survived, which gave me a lot of leeway. It's not based on any of her books but she's busily collecting material.

After all, Austen came up with characters like Wickham, Willoughby and the Crawfords, who prey on people and drain them for their own amusement and gratification. Doesn't this suggest she knew some vamps?

Adelina said...

This sounds like it would be fun to read. I've been really wanting to read these kind of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Can't wait!

Tracey O'Hara said...

I reckon Jane Austin would be up for an adventure. I can see her hunting monsters - or being one. I would love to read of her with vampires :)

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

I agree, Jane Austen is someone who would be able to take care of herself and wouldn't be faint if she came face to face with a vampire :-D

I've never read any paranormal "remake" or sequel, just the more classic ones, I liked Melissa Nathan's Pride, PRejudice and Jasmine Field :-)

Donna Cummings said...

You've intrigued me! I read the excerpt on your site, and I like the way you present Jane -- she's clearly having fun and not taking herself at all seriously. LOL I can't wait to read this.

P.S. I love how your words come back to haunt you! It sounds like "I'll never do such-and-such" is a plotting device for you! LOL

nymfaux said...

OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!

I am SOOOOOOOO excited!!!!!!

I can't wait to read your book!!!!!!!!

Congratulations to the other winner!!!!!

p.s. just emailed my info, and again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!

Sharon said...

great post! I know I missed the contest, but I wanted to put in my 5 cents (inflation). I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and found it funny and clever. I also read the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and loved it! I find it impressive and quite clever that someone can take a story and remake it like that. I look forward to reading your book!

nymfaux said...

YEA!!!!!! The mail just came!!!!!
I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I put some pics up on my blog--
http://nymfaux.blogspot.com/2010/06/damned-contests.html

Thank you SO much!!!!!!!