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."
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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!

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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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62 comments:

  1. I didn't know about Edward Taylor befor I heard about your new book. Guess I have sone catching up to do :) He must have been special to be Jane's first love!

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  2. Wow, such interesting new angles on Jane Austen's life. Looks terrific!

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  3. wow! I did not know about Edward Taylor until now....so interesting! Can't wait to read the book!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Lydia. I hope you enjoy the blog tour and that you love Jane Austen's First Love!

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  4. I can't wait to read this new book !! I'vjust finished The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen & loved i :) & this one seems terrific :)

    Miette

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  5. Enjoyed reading the post, very interesting, can't wait to read the book, it sounds wonderful.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jean. I hope you've gotten hold of a copy of Jane Austen's First Love by now, or put it on your gift wish list! I look forward to hearing from you after you read it! Happy Holidays!

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  6. Thank you for the wonderful interview with Syrie! I am looking forward to reading about Jane's First Love.... :)

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  7. The first classics I ever read were by Jane Austen, would love to read this book inspired by her life.

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  8. I was introduced to Jane Austen, oddly enough by the movie "You've Got Mail". Their is a scene in a café where Meg Ryan's character is reading Pride and Prejudice and then uses here wit to explain the wonderful heroine Elizabeth Bennet to Tom Hanks character. I wanted to know more about the story so I track down a copy at a used book store and the rest is history.

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    1. That's the most unique way I've ever heard of someone being introduced to Austen, and such a fabulous story. I love that movie and have seen it about a dozen times!

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  9. I hadn't come across Edward Taylor before either, hoping to read the book sometime soon

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

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  10. Have so enjoyed all of Syrie's books and can't wait to read this latest one. Congratulations and thank you for such wonderful stories.

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  11. Sophie, I'm sure you'll love First Love. I thought it was a wonderful read.

    Thank you both for a fascinating interview. It was so interesting to read about how this story came about.

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  12. Thank you for the interview. I enjoyed reading Jane Austen's First Love so much that I am revisiting Syrie's other novels. Currently, I am listening to the audio version of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which is so well written you tend to forget its fiction.

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    1. What a lovely compliment! Thank you, Nancy. :)

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  13. Thank you so much for having me here today, Mrs. Darcy! It was such a pleasure to stop by. And thank you everyone for your wonderful comments!

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    1. You are most welcome! Thank you for the interview!

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  14. I'm glad that Syrie's particular direction as an Austenesque author was to tackle JA's life story. I'm not much of a scholar, but I do enjoy reading about JA's life particularly through a story. I didn't know about Edward Taylor, but he becomes intriguing to me b/c he was intriguing to the young Jane. Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway opportunity.

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    1. Everything I learned about Edward Taylor made him sound absolutely fascinating! I totally understood why Jane Austen fell in love with him. I hope you enjoy my portrayal of him in Jane Austen's First Love!

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  15. Great post and giveaway boost! I love things Jane Austen! Excited to read this!

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  16. I am decide if I want to go with ebook or paper. I think a signed copy would look good on my bookshelf ;-) nrslalee00@yahoo.com

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  17. I have always been interested in most genres and types of fiction. This book might be a great way to delve into and try to give Jane Austen's books a try. I think at one time tried to read one of her books.
    Giveaway sounds really nice and I am enjoying taking the "tour"

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    1. Thank you Andrea, so nice to see you on the blog tour! Hope you love Jane Austen's First Love!

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  18. I didn't discover Jane Austen until my 30s (gasp) and cherish each and everyone one of her books. Syrie has done a wonderful job in researching Jane's life.

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  19. Sounds absolutely fascinating! Cannot wait to read it!!!

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  20. I would love to win this and read the book!

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  21. Edward Taylor sounds like an interesting person. It's too bad things didn't work out with Jane and him!

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  22. How exciting to find Edward Taylor's brother's memoirs!Those memoirs sound like an interesting read.The family seems to have led an enchanted life!What a goldmine of stories for Jane to work with, if she and Edward had married!

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  23. What a fun giveaway - I just love all things Jane Austen griperang at embarqmail dot com

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  24. Edward Taylor joined the militia??? I didn't know that! Time to make some researchs!

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  25. Syrie James, your posts on this holiday blog tour are just amazing!I love Jane Austen, hope to read your books soon!

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    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog tour. I hope you'll have a chance to read Jane Austen's First Love and my other novels and I look forward to hearing what you think!

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  26. I love that you used Jane Austen's real romantic interest to write this story and that you doggedly researched until you came up with actual information on Edward Taylor to base his character on. Thank you for the story and the generous giveaway. I now need to read the Lost Memoirs of Jsnr Austen as well.

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    1. I had such fun researching and writing this novel, and am thrilled by the response from readers and critics. I hope you love Jane Austen's First Love!

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    2. I am sure I will enjoy it!
      Forgot to add my email address....

      skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  27. I am really curious about this book! Amazing post and amazing giveaways! I love it how Jane's novels are inspiring people as well as tellings and retellings even a lot of years later :3 I hope I am lucky enough to win some of these adorable prizes xD Thanks so much for the giveaways and the chances to win :3

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  28. Interesting info

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  29. OMGosh I can't wait to get my hands on this book. Looks so great. Thanks for the great post and giveaway.

    betta_grl(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Nicole. I hope by now you have acquired a copy of Jane Austen's First Love, or put it on your holiday wish list--and that you'll let me know what you think after you read it!

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  30. I'm somewhat a late bloomer of Jane Austin myself. I didn't know about her until I did an interview to a nun one day for a high school project.

    And you're right. It's shocking to know that Edward served in the military even though he comes from a wealthy family.

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  31. I can hardly wait to read this book....I love the comments Syrie James made about Edward and the answers to your questions in this blog post. Your blog is lovely, and I'm happy that I happened onto it by chance....mostly because of the name listed in the give away: Laughing with Lizzie!

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    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you like the interview and like my blog! :) You can follow me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/laughingwithlizziejaneaustenblog) to keep up with my posts or sign up to be emailed when I do a new post (see above) Thanks again for the lovely comments!

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  32. Nice interview...great way to get to know the author of a book better...I also really like how you added the images throughout the interview....I thought it looked really nice!

    kimbers10[at]yahoo[dot]com

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    1. Thank you very much! I am glad you enjoyed the interview :)

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  33. Wow, Edward Taylor was really something.

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  34. Well, now I want to learn more about the rest of the Taylor children, as well! What an accomplished, ambitious family. Definitely worthy of Jane's love (though not, I expect, thrilled about her social station). Thanks for sharing that info!

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    1. Beth, I learned so many intriguing things about the entire Taylor family--if only there had been time and space to include them in Jane Austen's First Love. I hope you enjoy reading about Jane's romance with Edward Taylor, the young man who first stole her heart!

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  35. Love this interview! Thank you for sharing!

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  36. I'm not sure if I've heard of Edward Taylor before. I don't think he was Jane's beau in the movie where Anne Hathaway played Jane.

    I had some Austen books from library book sales and I bought the Dover edition of Sense and Sensibility new (only about $2.00 at the bookstore), but it wasn't until P.B.S. had a bunch of Austen movies on in 2008 that I got hooked. At first it was hard to get used to the Regency era because it's much more formal, including the language, than the Victorian era (which I already loved) and they also dressed differently. Finally I got used to it and was sucked in. Maybe it was the P & P adaption with Keira Knightley that made me really like Austen.

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  37. LOVED the book The Secret Diaries by Charlotte Bronte and can't wait to read Jane Austen's First Love. It sounds really, really interesting!! :) Thanks for the fun interview!!

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  38. Oh really interresting to know more about Jane Austen's life ! Thanks for this interview !

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  39. I really like the idea of writing about Jane Austen's life in the form of a novel, as opposed to the traditional biography. I've often wondered about Jane Austen's love life and what it entailed, so I'll definitely be getting my hands of a copy soon!!

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    1. Thank you, Amber! I hope you are enjoying the blog tour, and that you love Jane Austen's First Love!

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  40. congrats on your new release, love Lizzy

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  41. This book looks really good and I would love to win the package.

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  42. Syrie I am amazed at how much we have in common :) Elizabeth Bennett has always been my fave character and of course P&P is my fave novel - I also majored and got a degree in English literature in college! I don't use it though unlike you - I wish I could write the way you do :) Congrats and I sure can't wait to read it :)

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    1. What fun--maybe we're sister separated at birth! :) Thanks for your comment. I'm excited to share my novel Jane Austen's First Love with you and the world, and hope you love it as much as I loved writing it. Happy holidays!

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    2. Erika, I meant "SISTERS." LOL! It's lovely to discover that we have so much in common.

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  43. si, mi favorito tambien es orgullo y prejuicio! y que lindo saber que Jane te inspire para todos tus libros!!

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  44. OMG each time when i read a post related to this book i faint ! Can't wait to read it

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