Why Jane Austen?

Welcome visitors to Austenesque Extravaganza Touring Thursday!

I began my journey as an Austenesque writer in 2006 when my eldest child left for college. No more swim meets, no more tennis tournaments, no more musicals, no more plays, no more Debate tournaments…well, you get the idea! I still had one child at home but he is severely autistic and was not in all the extracurricular activities that my eldest was, and he also went to bed very early (still does…). I had been leery about buying Austen sequels and retellings because I did not know which ones to choose- there were so many! I finally decided to buy Pamela Aiden’s Fitzwilliam Darcy Trilogy and promptly sank into the joy of learning more about my favorite Austen hero.

After reading this now classic work a couple of times I realized that I had my own ideas about where the story would go after the end of Pride and Prejudice and they had been release by reading Ms. Aiden’s book. I took my laptop into my elder son’s now unused bedroom and started writing. I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing this- I did not want to talk about it until I was sure that I would be able to hang on writing until the end of the story. My husband is a fanatical tennis player and plays almost every day, and I work part-time, so I would only write when he was at work or tennis and I would stop when I heard the garage door open. Yes, it is rather like the behavior of an addict hiding her needles!

I finally neared the end of the manuscript and had discussed publishing options with my friend Lauren Small (author of Choke Creek) and decided that self-publishing was my best option. I looked at the self-publishing houses and picked iUniverse because it is a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble so I thought that it would probably not go into bankruptcy while I was working with them. At this point I was going to commit to paying some significant money for publication, so I thought I should tell my husband.

We have a regular “date” on Tuesday evenings, so after we finished eating dinner I cleared my throat and said, “There is something I need to tell you.” His eyebrows rose at this (I don’t even want to know what his first thoughts might have been at this statement!). I told him that I had written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and was going to publish it. For about 30 seconds he stared at me with his mouth slightly agape, then he said, “You know, you just might be able to sell that.” He has had more reminders than he would ever choose to have about the popularity of Jane Austen, so the topic was not a surprise to him, but I was pleased to see that I had succeeded in taking him aback- not an easy thing to do with an eye surgeon who has seen pretty much everything.

I went on to publish with iUniverse, buying the editing services that I thought I needed with this first attempt. I titled it And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family from one of my favorite Shakespeare quotations and had a photographer friend take the cover photo. The cover model is the daughter of my minister, who I saw in church one day (when I should have been listening to the sermon…) with her hair up, and I realized that she was the epitome of Georgiana Darcy in my mind. I called her to see if she would model for the cover and, at the end of the call, said, “Don’t worry about the clothes.” Fortunately, she knows me well enough to trust that I was not wanting nude or porn pictures…I sewed a Regency gown and the photographer and I did her hair and accessories and took about 300 pictures with a black background. We picked one with her looking down and holding a fan I brought back from a trip to China and iUniverse used it for the cover. Apparently they liked the black background because they kept it and I loved the look, however, I later noticed that just about every new book I saw had a black cover…oh, well.

Several months later I was contacted by an agent who was looking for Jane Austen-related titles and I signed with him and sold the book to Sourcebooks. They wanted a rewrite to change the point-of-view to Georgiana’s and I liked the idea, so spent 3 weeks completely rewriting the book, recycling some scenes and creating new ones for the rest, while I waited for them to decide if they wanted to buy it. They took the rewrite without significant further changes, and Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister was born.

The future? Well, I have several more Austen related stories I would like to tell, as well as some other historical fiction and a modern suspense series. I confess that I still love the Regency Era as it is unique and not well known, in spite of the amazing things that happened during that short period in history. So many books and so little time…

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29 comments on “Why Jane Austen?

  1. Wow! You are multitalented! How neat that you sewed the dress and did the model’s hair. You really did an amazing job with the cover.

  2. What a lovely publishing story!
    I find it amazing that you sewed a Regency style dress! How awesome!

  3. I like this publishing story – it’s encouraging πŸ™‚ And that is pretty fantastic about the cover: it looks so good! (er, That came out a little funny, haha)

  4. i totally love your cover design! well done and a fun story of your writing steps “)
    i’m quite the same in wanting to let the writing idea gestate before birthing publicly!
    glad for your success and wishes for more…

  5. Thanks for the comments! The model’s front curls actually came out lopsided, but, fortunately, they look perfectly even in this picture!
    Sam: I made a Regency ball gown for the JASNA AGM last year- that was quite a trip! The only thing I could find in my town was satin, which is horrible to sew on, but apparently it looked OK because a couple of people stopped in their tracks at the ball and said “wow!” and I know it wasn’t because of my youth and beauty!
    Faith hope and cherry tea: yes, I pretty much have the entire story worked out before I write the details.

  6. stephanie says:

    Huge fan of your story….interesting to find out the details of its orgin…

  7. Susan Kaye says:

    There must be something endemic to Austen fiction that causes it’s writers, when they start out, to hide. I was busily pecking away and the family had no idea until I said, “I’m going to Georgia to meet a woman who writes Jane Austen fiction.” I hadn’t been on a plane for decades and meeting new people is not on my list of hobbies. Pamela and I still joke about the risk I took and that she might have been a burly truck driver instead of a mild-mannered teacher.

    Jane makes us to strange and interesting things.

    Thanks for the post, Carey.

  8. blodeuedd says:

    I liked how you saw her in church and used her as a model πŸ™‚ She does look like Georgiana

  9. araminta18 says:

    Aw, I love the story about the cover! And the book definitely sounds awesome….

  10. Thanks everyone! Susan Kaye: Yes, you never know with all those people with their pen names WHO they might be!
    For those that like my model, you might be interested to see what she looks like as a modern girl: she was also a model for a slideshow I did on protecting your skin from the sun. It’s very short and is at: http://www.examiner.com/health-and-beauty-in-des-moines/protect-your-skin-from-the-sunpicture.
    Blodeuedd: I certainly thought she looked like Georgiana!

  11. BeckyC says:

    So many books, so little time! I say this all the time, only in the readers perspective! I love your story. From sneaking around to the birth of your book. Congratulation! I look forward to seeing more!

  12. Chelsea B. says:

    Thanks for sharing, C. Allyn! So many books and so little time indeed! πŸ™‚

  13. I just love hearing “origin” stories of books — books are sort of like superheroes, and it’s a delight to know how they come into their own! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this one, Carey!

  14. Luthien84 says:

    Wow, I’m totally impress. You can sew Regency dress write novel(s) and even fashion her hair. What are your other talents you are hiding? πŸ˜›

    Seriously, thanks for sharing your road-to-publication story. It’s good to learn what makes each of us special. I’m sure your family are proud of you.

  15. Wow! I am so impressed! I just loved this post! How neat that your pastor’s daughter looks just like Georgiana, and you sewed the dress and styled her hair (I can’t even style my own hair). I can only imagine your husbands initial thoughts when you had “something to tell him.” It is a joke with my hubby and family b/c I always start my phrase with “so, I have been thinking” anytime I want or need something! I bet you were so excited when Sourcebooks picked it up!! It sounds like a lovely book! I will be looking forward to more from you in the future! Again, I loved this story you shared with us! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  16. Amanda Mauldin says:

    Oh wow! I agree, you do have lots of talent and determination to succeed in making such a wonderful book. I’ve read several Pride and Prejudice sequels about Georgiana and it’s like reading the same story over and over, but your book was excellent! I admired the plot and the well written story. I even bragged to my husband about how good a book it was compared to some I’ve read. I sincerely look forward to any other books you may produce in the future.

  17. Thanks all! Luthien: Well, I (sort of) play the piano and took up the violin when I was 35. My sister and I love to play together- she plays the piano and I play the violin. Definitely not good enough for public consumption, but we love it. I also taught myself to crochet several years ago and when I have time I design and make shawls (we gave one away for a prize on AustenAuthors.com).
    Jakki: Yes, I sometimes wonder what he thought was coming when I said I had something to tell him! I haven’t had the courage to ask. πŸ™‚
    Amanda: I’m so glad you liked the book! My next one will include more about Georgiana’s life, as well as Kitty Bennet’s.

  18. Kelli says:

    Wow, you are a very talented lady! And I really enjoyed Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister!!

  19. V alerie R. says:

    Great story! I love how you came up with the idea for the cover! Hmmm… only thing I can sew is a button – don’t think that would make me much of an “accomplished” person in that setting! LOL I’m looking forward to reading your book… I just can’t get enough of the Pride & Prejudice sequels! They’re my absolute favorite thing to read. I love all of the “what if’s” and the different possibilities that could be considered. So many books, so little time…. I agree!! πŸ˜‰

  20. Kate says:

    I love how you would only write when your husband was not around…and then the ‘look’ on his face when you told him you had something to tell him! Must have been priceless! Can’t wait until I read your book…it’s sitting on my shelf right now, waiting for me to finish the ‘have to’ reviews! πŸ™‚

  21. Valerie R: thanks, hope you like the book! An additional piece of info on that picture- I brought that fan back from a mission trip to China!

  22. Great post! I love your cover and it is so cool that you did all that work!

  23. […] C. Allyn Pierson – Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister […]

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