Today I am pleased to welcome Sarah Price to my blog. I have asked her a few questions about her latest novel, Second Chances.
"At twenty-five years of age, Anna Eicher has never married. When she was seventeen, her parents convinced her to break off her courtship with Freman Whittmore, the youngest son in the Whittmore family and her best friend. Afterward, a distraught Freman moved away from Lancaster County.
Eight years later Freman has returned to visit his sister, who is renting the Eichers’ house for the winter. Now the owner of the largest dairy farm in his church district, Freman has neither married—nor forgiven Anna.
Although he begins courting someone else, Anna hopes to convince him that she has never stopped loving him. Will Freman be persuaded to forgive Anna and open his heart again?"
1. Ok, 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?
My Aunt Alice gifted me a leather bound copy of Jane Austen’s collection of novels when I was quite young. I’ve always been a voracious reader—the number one priority for all writers, in my opinion—so that was my introduction to the regency world. And I am also a diehard romantic. I can watch two people say goodbye at the airport and get lost in the moment, my mind creating an entire story about the before and after of that meeting.
To me, there is nothing more romantic than restraint in a relationship that requires a conquest of intelligence and emotions, not just the physical aspect.
In today’s world of social media, there is an element of restraint that is missing on all three fronts. I have a teenage daughter and son so I know how easily they fall into and out of love. I’m not even certain that many of today’s young people could read a Jane Austen novel and recognize the development of a real love that transcends the “moment.”
While we are on the topic, let’s talk about fashion. I recently started participating in pro-am ballroom dancing competitions with the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The American waltz and Viennese waltz are my favorites because of the emotion that is expressed in the movements of the head, arms, torso, and feet. And dressing in amazing sparkling ballgowns is a wonderful change from hanging around the house in shorts and a T-shirt. I’ve actually begun to wear only pretty dresses, even at home, because they are so feminine. I don’t even think I own a pair of sweatpants, a sweatshirt, or sneakers.
I wish we would bring corsets back into fashion. They just make you feel like a woman, even if no one sees them.
At the risk of getting hate mail, I’m going to venture out on a limb when I state that, to me, the regency period defines what it means to be a lady.
(I actually completely agree!)
2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels which is your favourite? Do I assume Pride and Prejudice as it was the first book for which you wrote an Amish re-telling? What do you like about it, and Ms. Austen's writing in general?
Actually, I really enjoyed Emma and Sense and Sensibility. Of course, all of Jane Austen’s books are written so well that each one is a favorite on its own merit. But Emma made me laugh out loud and I can relate to her. How often do we say things with the best of intentions that are misunderstood or taken out of context? For me, it’s a daily occurrence. I tend to speak before I think, or, rather, I speak what’s on my mind without any sort of filtration system on my mouth.
Needless to say, it gets me in trouble quite frequently.
Just last week, something popped out of my mouth before my mind caught up to it. Not only was I red-faced and embarrassed, the cloud of doom because of my verbal diarrhea lingered for a few days.
Fortunately, most people who know me expect nothing less than honesty and a lack of inner monologue.
As for Sense and Sensibility, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the conflicting personalities of Elinor and Marianne. I know how it is to have siblings that are completely different. It’s hard to relate to a sibling who is practical when the other lives in a fantasy world. And I fell in love with Colonel Brandon. He is a true romantic and his patience in waiting for Marianne, as well as his gentlemanly protection of her honor, is my ideal of the perfect man.
3. And how about your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s?
And that’s really interesting since I just released my adaptation of Persuasion, Second Chances. The book is getting wonderful reviews but I could not relate to Anne. Giving up a first love is one thing, but being trampled over by her family, especially Mary? Well, maybe I can relate to it, but I wanted to shake Anne and tell her to snap out of it. At some point, we have to say NO to people who take, take, take without giving back. Anne was long overdue.
(That is funny as you have just written a variation!)
4. So, in your novels you take the classic story and give it an Amish twist. How did you go about approaching this? Why did you want to do it? Was it quite easy to do or was it hard to give it such a different twist?
Believe it or not, it was easier to come up with the storylines than I originally thought. Writing them was not as easy. I want to stay true to Jane Austen’s style of writing and character development. That’s hard because she has so many characters and her novels are so rich in plot. Since the Amish culture and religion is not quite as complex, I did have to make editorial decisions as far as what elements to include and how to weave subplots into my books.
One of the reasons why I wanted to do this was to raise the bar on my writing. I love to learn new things. I don’t believe just anyone could retell classics in the style of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. It takes a lot of studying and research and exploration of literary techniques. Additionally, the Amish fiction genre has not always had the greatest reputation for being fine literature. It would be nice to earn some respect in that category. When people read this series, they cannot dismiss the books as “just another Amish romance” or (and I cringe as a write this) a “bonnet book.”
My family heritage is Mennonite and I’ve been involved with the Amish communities of Lancaster since I was nineteen years old. My grandparents introduced me to the culture even earlier than that and I fell in love with their lifestyle right away. On the surface, it looks like a plain and simple way of living. In reality, they are as complicated as the English society of the early 1800s. There are rules, hierarchy, and values that must be adhered to. Everyone has a role to play and, if they stray from it, there are consequences.
5. You have written an Amish Pride and Prejudice and now Persuasion. Are you planning to do this to all 6 of Ms. Austen's novels? Was Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice easier to re-imagine?
Actually, I have also written an adaptation of Emma and I’m finishing Sense and Sensibility this week. I’m also contracted to adapt Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey in 2016. For 2017, I’m moving onto the Bronte sisters. I also have a proposal into a publisher to adapt Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
The classics tell romances in a way that is so much more involved than regular 21st century novels. They explore culture, society, and characters in such a way that, when reading them, you feel as if you are standing beside the characters. There is a reason that these novels are considered to be timeless classics. Their stories survive over the centuries because people can still relate to them. That is something I strive to replicate.
(Yes exactly, and this is why I love to read them!)
Thank you for answering those questions Sarah, and for explaining to us more about your reasoning and how you go about adapting the classics.
The author of more than two dozen novels, Sarah Price brings twenty-five years of experience of living among the Amish to her books, many of which have been Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers. In 2013, she signed with Realms, a division of Charisma House, to publish the Amish Classics series. Initially focusing on the retelling of Jane Austen’s timeless classics from within an Amish setting, her first traditionally published book, First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list.
She intends to continue retelling classics, including the Bronte sisters and Victor Hugo, as she enjoys “raising the bar” on her own intellectual stimulation as well as that of her expansive base of loyal readers.
In 2014, she signed with Waterfall Press and published An Amish Buggy Ride which became a #1 bestseller in Religious Romance.
Thank you to Sarah for the interview and good luck with this latest release as well as any future stories!
Your affectionate friend,