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Friday, December 05, 2014

Blog Tour: The Muse by Jessica Evans



Today I am part of the blog tour for Jessica Evans' new story, The Muse. Jessica will be sharing an excerpt from the book today, and I am lucky enough to the have a giveaway - details below!
 
 
 
 
"Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream–until she meets him.
 
William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block–until he meets Elizabeth Bennet. 
 
Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?"
 
 
This scene happens during the second rehearsal for William Darcy's new work of choreography at Ballet Theater of New York. Elizabeth is a dancer in his piece. 

Rehearsal finished with Darcy proclaiming, “This choreography is about artistic expression, so I need to start seeing some from you!”
 
Not a positive end to two hours of grueling drills. A few dancers trudged out. Elizabeth stayed behind.
 
She had no clue what Darcy had meant. Attack the descent but don’t short-change the jump. Was she supposed to defy gravity? In the back of the room, Elizabeth studied her glissade in the mirror. A few other dancers honed steps around her as well, but the choreographer’s eyes settled on her. She noticed him pacing towards her—studied, cat-like.
 
“Your rhythm is off,” he said, when he was no more than a few feet away. “Duh-duh, duh-duh,” mimicking the music with his voice and the rhythm of the jumps with his hands.
 
She tried again, and he shook his head. Elizabeth placed her arms akimbo and looked down in frustration. Head still down, she cut her eyes up to the choreographer. “I must be having an off day all around.”
 
He looked annoyed. Rather than frightening Elizabeth, it made her feel triumphant.
 
“Don’t go for height. Go for movement. Imagine that someone’s carrying you across in the air. Both legs out.”
 
Unlike Caroline or even Lydia, Elizabeth did not have the quickness of feet to be a virtuoso jumper. She tried once more, and Darcy looked as if he was ready to give up and leave. Her temper flared. She suspected he was giving her BS corrections and nit-picking just to be a jerk. Well, she could be a persistent jerk right back. Elizabeth cocked her chin and looked him square in the face in a wordless challenge to show her the right way.
 
Sighing, Darcy suddenly walked behind her and grabbed her waist. Elizabeth sucked in a quick breath.
 
Glissade,” he ordered.
 
Heart thudding, she obeyed. His hands were strong but light on her back, gliding her over the floor. Then, she felt the pressure of his hands on her sides, guiding her down again. He had barely moved her off the floor, and yet the dynamics of the jump felt completely different.
 
“That,” he said, “is what I want.”
 
She tried it a few times herself. It pained her that the sequence now took on a different and vibrant musicality. Darcy looked at her smugly and then turned away. Success had never felt so defeating.
 
***
 
“Partnering a woman is like making love to her,” Mr. V had once told William’s pas de deux class in his heavily-accented English. They had been teenagers at the time, and most had chuckled with feigned knowing.
 
“You need to touch woman gently, but not too gently. You need to be strong but not too strong. Then the woman feels uncomfortable. You have to hold her just right. Good partner is good lover,” his teacher had said. William had never forgotten that advice.
 
Was it the chicken or the egg, he wondered? Had he bedded so many dancers because he had been a good dance partner? Or had he become a good dance partner by sleeping with so many women? In any case, he thought of that advice often before he touched a woman on stage or in the bedroom. The thought had been in his mind, too, as he placed his hands around Elizabeth Bennet’s waist and lifted her.
 
In his experience, the same truth held for women: The ones who let themselves be partnered were usually the ones who melted, molded, and danced under the sheets; the ones who blushed, flinched, or stiffened when a dancer touched her on the floor usually shriveled up in bed.
 
Although she had tensed initially, Elizabeth Bennet, he noted, had eased into him when he grabbed her. She had been light and pliant. A small detail, but one that was on his mind as he stood in the center of Studio B, staring at his feet, thinking of what came next.
 
In the choreography, he had reached a dead-end. He didn’t know how to get his dancers off stage and get the principal dancer on. Well, it wasn’t really a matter of not knowing how; it was more that he suddenly didn’t care. Did it really matter? He could have his dancers clip their toenails on stage, and the critics would call it a brilliant feat of post-modern dance.
 
He knew he shouldn’t complain. As a young choreographer creating dances for barely four years, William should have been grateful for the rebirth of his dance career. Life after his career-ending knee injury had been bleak, and choreography had resurrected him. For several years, he’d traveled to new dance companies, working with new dancers, pumping out new ballets, receiving ovations, and tasting glory again, even if it was from behind the wings. But over a year ago, choreography stopped being the panacea it had been. William began to feel empty again.
 
He approached the mirror and studied his face. Lines had emerged at the corners of his eyes. Twice in the past month he had yanked out a stray gray hair from the mass of dark brown waves on top of his head. William frowned. He was growing old. Once he could no longer dance, he began to feel the heaviness of time dragging down the skin on his face. The wrinkles didn’t show much now, but give them a few years. He sighed and sank into the chair at the front of the room.
 
After several minutes, William saw visions of his younger self bolting down the diagonal in a rapid series of leaps, turns, and beats of the leg. As a dancer, he had been a completely different person, cocky and brash. He had smiled more, charmed more. There had been nothing more ego-inflating than catapulting himself three feet off the floor in a grand jeté, whirling around in a quadruple pirouette. Nothing more gratifying than the explosion of applause after a perfectly executed variation. And now it was gone.
 
In envisioning his younger days, William suddenly thought of Elizabeth Bennet. He thought of her dancing. She was still clumsy in some of her movements, but she danced with an energy that he recognized: fierce and delicate at the same time. In her eyes, he recognized a passion for expression that he, too, had once felt. Elizabeth Bennet, he could tell, loved to dance.
 
William rose again and paced towards the center of the room. She definitely had a strength for balancés, those rocking steps done in a waltz rhythm. Perhaps less vertical movement and more horizontal would work better in this section. He attempted an impromptu phrase of balancés and piqués, and ending with a series of chaînés. It fit the music. It would work. Suddenly, William had direction. He got out his notebook and scribbled down the steps, imagining their execution by a petite corps de ballet girl with a penchant for haughty lifts of the chin and a pair of cold, glittering eyes.


Links:



 

A middle school English teacher by trade, I cut my writer’s teeth in various fan fiction forums starting at the tender age of fifteen. My debut novel, The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, is set to be published by Meryton Press in late November 2014.

In my spare time, I read a lot of Young Adult literature, cook and eat as organically/sustainably/artisanally/grass-fed-ally as possible, and work on improving my life one affirmation at a time. I live in Brooklyn, NY though am not a hipster. I swear.







**GIVEAWAY - ends Monday 15th December**

In celebration of the release, the lovely Jessica is offering a paperback copy of her story. This is open internationally.  

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner shall be picked randomly.


Please leave your email address. I will then be in contact for your address.


Good luck, and thank you again to Jessica for offering this giveaway! And good luck with the book and thank you for such an intriguing excerpt!

 

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Miss Bohemia Door Sign and Mirror review - with giveaway!



 
 
 
Today I welcome the lovely Jen of Miss Bohemia to my blog! She has a lovely shop on Etsy which I visit often! I will be reviewing a lovely door sign and mirror I bought, and there is a giveaway of one of each of these items as well (details below!).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'DO NOT DISTURB I'm Reading Jane Austen Door Sign'
 
 
I really love this door sign! It is very well made and very sturdy (and will tolerate any door slamming!). The design itself is really fun - and very true, you DO NOT disturb me when I'm reading Jane Austen, which I will more than likely be doing in my bedroom!) The design is very well printed onto the metal plaque - it is not going to rub off or fade or anything. While being strong, it is still a good thickness, not too thick, and so doesn't stick out from the door. As well as a really fun design, it is a high quality and well made door sign which is really fun to brighten up any Janeite's door!
 




'I'd Rather be at Pemberley Compact Mirror'




This mirror is a must for any Janeite's handbag! It is the perfect size - not too big for your handbag, nor too small to actually be usable as a mirror! As with all of Miss Bohemia's products, it is a very high quality mirror and the design is very well printed onto the front. The design itself is so pretty (the font of 'Pemberley' is just gorgeous!) and I love how true it is, as I am sure most Janeites would rather be at Pemberley - I certain would!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To learn more about her collection visit her various websites...
 
Jen is very kindly, in addition to the giveaway, adding a discount code for all my readers - just enter ‘Lizzie10’ for 10% off everything at Miss Bohemia. This code is valid until a week after the giveaway ends. 
 
 

 ** GIVEAWAY - ends Wednesday 10th December**

The lovely Jen has provided me a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a mirror and a door sign. This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment with your favourite Jane Austen quote
 and Jen will choose her favourite and therefore the winner! 

Please leave your email address. If you are the lucky winner, Jen will be in touch.



Good luck!

 
Thanks again to Jen for the giveaway!


Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with Beth Deitchman - with giveaway!


Today I welcome the lovely Beth Deitchman to my blog, and I have asked her a few questions about her books, particularly her latest release, Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas. I am really enjoying her magical series, having loved Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven (see my review here!)

"Margaret Dashwood's father died soon after completing his life's work, an atlas he painstakingly enchanted for his youngest daughter. Margaret discovers her father's gift and embarks on an adventure that takes her far from England. Soon she and her new friend, Mrs. Bristlethwaite, a prominent member of the Devonshire Coven, learn that magical objects have begun disappearing from sites around the world. Seeking to prevent further thefts, Margaret and the Coven face unexpected dangers and a surprisingly devious enemy. Set in Jane Austen's England several years after the events of Sense and Sensibility, Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas is the second book of the Regency Magic Series, whimsical tales of magic and manners published by Luminous Creatures Press."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Welcome Beth! Thank you so much for agreeing to this little interview with me. I really loved your story and I would love to learn a little more about you and your latest release!

 

Thank you, Sophie! I've enjoyed answering your questions.

 

1. It is evident from your stories that you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?

 

I came to Jane Austen a bit later than you did—in my mid-twenties when I was living in London as a post-graduate student at Queen Mary College. I was poking around a Dillon's in Bloomsbury one afternoon shortly after I'd arrived in London and found a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the sale bin. Somehow I had managed to complete two degrees in English without reading any Jane Austen (shocking, isn't it?), and I sought to right that wrong.

 

I had time before my course started, so I indulged in my first Austen. Many of my fellow residents at William Goodenough House—now called Goodenough College—studied at the Royal College of Music. Our common room boasted a beautiful grand piano that was often being used during the day. I have very fond memories of lying on my bed reading P&P while a musician practiced across the courtyard. Sometimes I could imagine that I was actually in a Jane Austen novel. Since then I've made a habit of re-reading all the novels every couple of years.

 

2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, which is your favourite? What appeals to you about it? The characters, the story, the humour?

 

Oh my, that is a difficult question to answer as my allegiances shift from time to time. I adore Sense and Sensibility because I love the evolving relationship between Marianne and Elinor. The characters develop so beautifully over the course of the novel. Besides, I've just completed a book based on Sense and Sensibility, so I feel rather close to it.

 

On another day I might say Mansfield Park, again because of the characters. I especially enjoy despising Mrs. Norris!

 

 

3. In your two stories you take some of Ms. Austen’s minor characters and create a story for them. You didn't write a story based around Darcy and Lizzy, as is the majority of fan fiction. Did you want to write a story about Mary Bennet and Margaret Dashwood, the lesser explored characters, because they often get left out or fan fiction? Or had you had enough of Darcy and Lizzy and the other major characters? Or did writing a story for the minor characters intrigue you? It is very different to have a story about Margaret Dashwood especially, and I am really looking forward to reading it!

 

A few years ago I played Mary Bennet in a stage production of Pride and Prejudice and developed a real fondness for her. Just to give the poor girl a little adventure, I wrote the first draft of Mary Bennet in one sitting in a café—it was only about five pages long and took very little time to write. When my writing partner Emily June Street and I decided to work together, I brought this tiny story to our first meeting. She gave me a lot of great feedback, and slowly the story began to evolve. As I worked on Mary's story, I began to think about other minor characters and how I could give each of them magical adventures. By the time I finished Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven, Emily and I had started our own publishing company, Luminous Creatures Press, and the Regency Magic series was born!

 

4. As well as writing stories about the secondary characters, your other unique feature to your books is that you add a magical twist. I was wary of reading Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven as I couldn't see how mixing Jane Austen and magic would work, but I really enjoyed it! How did you come up with the idea in the first place? You are a fan of magic I would assume? Perhaps a Harry Potter fan?

 

I am a huge Harry Potter fan! I've read the series so many times that I count the characters as old friends.

 

When I sat down to write the little Mary Bennet story, I had a vague idea that there would be something fantastical happening to Mary, though I didn't necessarily plan the magic as it is in the final draft. If I remember correctly, I had something along the lines of Narnia in mind, but that's not the way the writing took me.

 

5. What is your opinion of modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the Bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I was surprised but pleased that your story was kept in the same era as Jane Austen's own stories, despite the addition of the magic element, which might be seen as more appropriate or to be associated with modern tales.

 

I welcome modern adaptations of classics—before I started writing fiction I wrote academic papers, an MPhil thesis, and a PhD dissertation about Shakespeare films, including Ten Things I Hate About You, which is based on Taming of the Shrew. The Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet is one of my favorite Shakespeare films. Shakespeare and Austen wrote stories about people without hiding their flaws. I think that is why they still hold such appeal to us now.

 

As for the adaptations themselves, I adore Clueless and have seen it an embarrassing number of times. I even worked it into my MPhil thesis (remember the conversation Cher has about Hamlet and Mel Gibson?). Amy Heckerling did a wonderful job adapting Emma to a teen flick set in Beverly Hills. I haven't seen the Bollywood Pride and Prejudice, but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

 

6. Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature. However, I very much enjoyed the hero you created in Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven. How did you go about writing a hero worthy of a Bennet daughter? Was it fun to create a new character?

 

That is a great question! I'm not sure how clearly I can answer it without giving away too much, not about my mysterious writing process, but about key plot details. I felt that in order for it to be a successful Austen sequel there had to be some romance, and I wanted to give Mary a little love—her life is definitely lacking in that area! I also wanted the hero to be much nicer than Mr. Collins, whom many people think Mary should have married. I did enjoy writing a hero worthy of a Bennet daughter!

 

 

7. As well as the hero being a new character that you created, how did you find creating the many other new characters you have in your story, and having them interact with characters we already know from Ms. Austen's own stories?

 

Creating new characters is one of my favorite parts of writing the Regency Magic series. At the risk of sounding too mystical, I have to say that the characters reveal themselves to me as I go along. I very rarely have a plan, although I did base Mrs. Bristlethwaite from Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas loosely on someone I know—Tina Packer, an English actor who founded Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. I spent a month there a few years ago, so got to know her a little. She's a marvelous actor with a deliciously contagious chuckle. But even Mrs. Bristlethwaite didn't conform to my expectations of her. I have a special fondness for another character in Margaret's book called Mr. James.

 

In Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven, Mr. Bennet gave me a little surprise—I took a liberty that I hope Miss Austen wouldn't have minded. I based Mr. Hartbustle on a friend of mine, although only in appearance.That character also surprised me as the story unfolded.

 

Because people know Miss Austen's characters so well, I strive to make their interactions with the new characters as honest as possible. Luckily, Miss Austen's characters are so beautifully drawn that I can easily imagine how they would react to my characters.

 

8. As I have already said, I really enjoyed Mary Bennet and am looking forward to reading your latest release. Can you tell us more about it? Which character have you enjoyed writing about more, Mary or Margaret?

 

The new book takes place several years after Sense and Sensibility—Margaret is eighteen and a fairly accomplished sorceress. She inherits the Enchanted Atlas from her father—again, I took a little liberty with Miss Austen's character by making Henry Dashwood an accomplished sorcerer who trained his daughter until his death. Margaret's magical adventure begins after she finds the atlas and meets Mrs. Bristlethwaite, a friend of her father's and a prominent member of the Devonshire Coven. Together they learn about magical items disappearing from sites around the world. With the Devonshire Coven, Margaret embarks on a quest to stop the thefts and discover the culprit. Naturally she also finds a little love.

 

As for which character I enjoyed writing more—hmmm, that's another difficult question! I loved writing Mary because I got to give her a voice and an explanation for her faults. Margaret was a lot of fun because she's so romantic and earnest. But I haven't really answered your question; to be honest I'm not sure I could pick between them.

 

9. I will wrap up the questions now, but one final thing; do you have some other stories in the works? Are you going to continue with your magical themed Austen books? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your second story has only just been released, but I had to ask!   

I do have other stories in the works! I just started drafting a new novel about ballet dancers tentatively called Anna's Piece. Given the way my writing process works, I imagine I'll be done with the first draft by early February, but then it will sit for at least six months before I can come back to it. That's when I'm planning to start the first draft of Regency Magic Book Three: Susan Price and the Staff of Adalet. I'm basing this one on Mansfield Park—Susan being Fanny Price's younger sister who eventually comes to live at Mansfield Park. Right now I have only vague ideas about Susan's adventure, but I imagine I'll have a lot of fun discovering what it is!

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Beth Deitchman wrote her first book in third grade. Since then she has also had short-lived but very entertaining careers as a dancer, a university lecturer, and an actor. These days she writes, co-owns Luminous Creatures Press, and teaches Pilates in Northern California where she lives with her husband Dave and dog Ralphie. You can find Beth at https://luminouscreaturespress.com or on her website at http://bethdeitchman.com and you can follow her on Twitter: @beth_deitchman









**GIVEAWAY - ends Sunday 30th November**

In celebration of the release, the lovely Beth is offering 2 ebook copies of her story.

To enter, leave a comment below and the two winners shall be picked randomly.


Please leave your email address. I will then pass on the winners email addresses to Beth who will be in touch.


Good luck, and thank you again to Beth for offering this giveaway! And good luck with the book and thank you for such a great interview! I will be posting my review sometime in the near future as well!



Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Tour: Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James



Today I welcome the lovely Syrie James to my blog! I have asked her a few questions about her new release, Jane Austen's First Love!
 
 
 
 
 
 
"In the summer of 1791, fifteen-year-old Miss Jane Austen is determined to accomplish three things: to do something useful, write something worthy, and fall madly in love. While visiting at Goodnestone Park in Kent for a month of festivities in honor of her brother's engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets the boy-next-door—the wealthy, worldly, and devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park, and hopefully her heart! Like many of Jane’s future heroes and heroines, she soon realizes that there are obstacles—social, financial, and otherwise—blocking her path to love and marriage, one of them personified by her beautiful and sweet tempered rival, Charlotte Payler.
 
Unsure of her own budding romance, but confident in her powers of observation, Jane distracts herself by attempting to maneuver the affections of three other young couples. But when her well-intentioned matchmaking efforts turn into blundering misalliance, Jane must choose between following her own happily-ever-after, or repairing those relationships which, based on erroneous first impressions, she has misaligned."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Welcome Syrie!
 
 
Hi! I’m so happy to be here today at Laughing with Lizzie. I’m ready for questions, so fire away!

 

 

 

1. Okay, a boring but very important question! How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the Regency world of dancing, carriages, and courtship?

 

Funny you should ask! Actually, I was a bit of a late-bloomer when it comes to Austen. I’ve heard stories from women who said they first became entranced by Austen when they were eleven or twelve years old, when their Austen-loving mother or aunt or grandmother introduced them to Austen’s books, which they would read and discuss together. That would be such a lovely way to discover Austen! However, it didn’t happen that way for me. (My parents did encourage me to read from an early age, starting with all the classics of children’s literature, and I became a total bookworm—for life.)

As reading and writing were my two greatest passions, I majored in English in college—and it was there, in a British literature course, that I was first introduced to Jane Austen. I have no memory of that class now, but we must have read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and I must have loved them, because out of all the books I was required to purchase in college, those are among the few that I kept all these years.

Fast forward to 1995-96, when a tidal wave of Jane Austen movies came out. SENSE AND SENSIBILITY starring and adapted by Emma Thompson, and the A&E mini-series PRIDE AND PREJUDICE starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, became two of my all-time favorites. I fell madly in love with Austen, the world she lived in and created, and All Things Regency. I wanted to live in a Jane Austen movie! I read—or re-read—all the novels. I read her juvenilia, her biographies, and her letters. I was devastated that there were only six novels and no Austen memoirs. So I decided to write them myself. J  I started with The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and followed with The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen and Jane Austen’s First Love.

 
 

2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, which is your favourite? What appeals to you about her work and her writing? The characters, the story, the humour?

 

I love all of Austen’s novels, but I suppose Pride and Prejudice is my favorite—I’ve certainly re-read it more often than the others. It’s the book I always pick up when I need my “Austen fix.” I love P&P because of its brilliant storyline, the way it grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go. The characters are so beautifully drawn. I admire Austen’s skill in creating Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s character arcs as they overcome their pride and prejudice (ha!) and go from initial dislike to falling in love. That’s the heart of the story, and it’s wonderful. There’s good reason why that plotline continues to be imitated over and over!

I love Jane Austen’s novels for all the reasons you mention. Even though she wrote over two hundred years ago, her work is timeless. Her characters are still familiar and feel very real, because they deal with many of the same kinds of personal, social, and economic problems that we face today. We identify with her heroes and heroines because they all have flaws (well, maybe not Anne Elliot and Fanny Price!) and they have to own up to their mistakes and correct them before they are rewarded with a happy ending. Austen subtly weaves in a lesson in all of her novels, and I love that. Plus, Austen’s wit and humour are fabulous! So much of her dialogue is infused with biting wit, and her fools are fun to laugh at. All I have to do is think about Mr. Collins, and I can’t help but smile!

 

3. Where did your inspiration come from for this book, to look into the life of Jane Austen, rather than perhaps write a book based around her novels and characters?

 

When my obsession with Jane Austen began, I had never heard of Jane Austen fan fiction. Rather than feeling compelled to write a continuation of her stories and characters, I was more intrigued by the woman behind the novels. I read stacks of biographies and Jane’s preserved correspondence, seeking to understand the author herself.

 

It’s well known that Jane Austen never married. But how, I wondered, could she have written with such insight about relationships and matters of the heart, if she hadn’t experienced those emotions first hand? I believe that Jane Austen must have had a love affair (or two!) of her own. My first Austen novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, fulfilled my need to give the mature Jane Austen a romance. I interwove a dashing, fictional gentleman—a real kindred spirit—with the facts of Austen’s life, hoping to make it hard to discern where fact ended and fiction began.

 

But what of young Jane? Who was her first love? The inspiration for my new novel began to germinate when I was re-reading Jane’s preserved correspondence. I was struck by three sweet and tender references she made to Edward Taylor, who she met as a teenager while visiting her brother Edward Austen in Kent. We know so little about Jane’s romantic life, yet here was a solid clue, in her own words, about a young man with whom she was clearly besotted! And he was a real person! I was stunned that no one had ever written about him. So I wrote the book I wanted to read: the story of Jane Austen’s First Love. 

 

 

 

4. How did you go about discovering and researching information about this 'shadowy suitor' so that you could write this book?

 

Austen biographers only briefly mention Edward Taylor as Jane’s first crush, no doubt because there was very little information about him. I spent many months surfing the web, searching for clues. Thankfully Edward Taylor was a member of the landed gentry, so I was able to find nuggets of information about him: dates of birth, marriage, and death; time served in the military and in Parliament; the background of his parents, basic facts about his eight siblings, his ancestors, and his family estate. But I was determined to know more. I wanted to understand who Edward Taylor was as a young man, when Jane Austen met him.

 

I kept combing through obscure files on the internet. To my great excitement, I came upon The Taylor Papers, the memoirs and letters of Edward’s brother, Lieutenant General Sir Herbert Taylor. These memoirs bring Edward Taylor out of the shadows, revealing him to be a member of an extraordinary, highly accomplished family who had an unusual upbringing. I learned so much from this book! It helped me understand who Edward Taylor was, and why Jane cared for him so deeply.I was excited to bring him and the teenage Jane to life in my novel.

 

Bifrons Park
 

 

5. I am very much looking forward to reading this story. What are a few of the most interesting or shocking or surprising things you discovered while researching and writing this book?

 

I was surprised to learn that Edward Taylor served in the military. That was an unusual choice for an eldest son and heir to the family estate. But after reading his brother Herbert’s memoirs, I understood what motivated that yearning—and I made it an integral part of Edward Taylor’s character in my novel.

 

I was surprised to discover that the Taylor family left their ancestral home, Bifrons Park, and removed to the continent for eleven years, where all eight children were raised and educated. I was amazed to learn that Edward Taylor and his siblings were fluent in four or five languages, learned to draw from Raffaelle’s frescoes at the Vatican, and all played a musical instrument so proficiently that they gave concerts wherever they lived or visited across Europe. I was astonished to learn that the Taylors were close friends with royalty, government leaders, and aristocrats at the highest echelons of society. What an extraordinary life the young Edward Taylor had led by the time he returned to England and met Jane Austen! No wonder she fell madly in love with him!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages
 

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen's First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the 
Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie's unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!
 
·         Author’s website: http://www.syriejames.com/

·         Tour info & participants:  http://www.syriejames.com/LatestNewsPageNEW.php

·         Prize packet info & images: http://www.syriejames.com/JAFLPrizePackages.php


·         Syrie’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSyrieJames


·         Twitter handles: @SyrieJames, @PenguinUSA, @Austenprose, @orangeprm

·         Twitter hashtags: #JAFLBlogTour, #JaneAusten, #HistoricalFicton, #HolidayGifts, #Romance, #Reading, #BNGiftTip   
 
Thank you again to Syrie for this interesting interview, and good luck with the new release! I will be reviewing it in the next few months as well, so watch out for my thoughts! I am looking forward to it!


Your affectionate friend,
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