It's been awhile since I had a guest author who writes for the Young Adult age group, and what could be more exciting for Jane Austen fans and mystery lovers, than a book featuring Jane herself in a mystery of espionage, intrigue, and romance? Besides Secrets in the Snow featuring Jane Austen, our guest author, Michaela MacColl, has written mysteries featuring our favorite heroines from the 19th-century literary world--Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, and the Bronte sisters! A complete set would be a perfect gift this season not just for teens, but for all of us!
But before Michaela takes the stage, we have TWO winners picked by random.org from last week's post. Winner #1: KATHY WEICHMAN. Kathy, you may choose from either A Christmas Spider's Miracle or Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble. Winner #2: JANA ESCHNER, you will receive the remaining book--the books will be personalized for the winners.
***Congratulations, Kathy and Jana!***(Kathy and Jana please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like the book personalized.)
And NOW, please welcome historical fiction author and my friend, Michaela MacColl. Michaela is generously donating a copy of her newest mystery, Secrets in the Snow, featuring Jane Austen! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment about the post or share your favorite Jane Austen title. Thank you!
Dare I imitate Jane? by Michaela MacColl
I’ve written four literary mysteries now featuring famous writers as young adults – and I do say so myself, I’ve dared a lot. I channeled Emily Dickinson’s unique take on the world and explored the sibling rivalry between the Bronte sisters. Louisa May Alcott fell prey to my pen too (actually I found her matter-of- fact problem-solving ethos very modern). But Jane Austen? The undisputed Mistress of Conversation? How dare I put words in her mouth?
When I begin these books I read biography and their body of work in tandem. I look for emotional links in their writing to my understanding of their lives. With Emily D. I found connections between her shyness and search for someone who understands her in her poetry. With Louisa it was easy – Jo March is for all intents and purposes, Louisa with all the rebellion and childhood mischief that implies. But Jane was a different story. Her life was practically event-less. She lived quietly with her family, a dependent spinster. There were no deaths or mysteries in her life – just tea, county dances and conversation. Lots of conversation. In fact, the more I looked in Jane’s work for physical descriptions of characters or places, the less I found. Unless Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” tell you more than me – we have no idea what she looks like. But we do know how she talked. That’s mostly what all the characters in Jane Austen do – they talk.
So I read the books out loud. I watched my favorite adaptations – BBC anyone? -- and of course the 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park. By the time I started writing, I had the rhythm and the vocabulary. I put Jane in the scene with her mother and a romantic interest and let them talk! I think it worked – but would love to know what you think?
Check out Secrets in the Snow (Chronicle, October 2016) and let me know!