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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Abigail Reynolds: Why Do We Do It?

Today’s Guest Blog Post and Give-Away by Abigail Reynolds
Hi, Darcyholics!  I am very happy to share with you a guest post by Abigail Reynolds.  For anyone who has read JAFF online, you have most likely have read one of Abigail’s stories.  I am thrilled to have her visiting with us today!

Today is Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday. If you missed it, please be sure and read my Sunday post for a chance to win a copy of Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy in honor of the occasion.

Upcoming Guest Posts Are As Follows:
February 10--Ola Wegner
February 14--Sandy Cook! Celebrating Mr. Darcy and Valentine’s Day
February 17--Nancy Kelley
February 21--Janet Taylor
February 24--Nina Benneton
February 28--Maria Grazia (My Jane Austen Book Club)
March 2--Rita W.
March 6--Ruth Oakland
March 27--Lucy S. 
And Many more to come!

Abigail is giving away a soft cover copy of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, North American only.  Entries will be based on comments on the blog post; but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post, sharing this on Facebook or your blog, Friend me on Facebook, clicking 'like' on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page, or following BarbTCole on Twitter; or ‘like' Abigail Reynolds, Writer’s Facebook page, follow Austen Authors Facebook page, or join Austen Authors. Please note any of these things that you do in your blog post for extra entries.

And now... Abigail Reynolds...

Why do we do it?

Okay, hands up now – how many of you have been asked why you love to read/write Jane Austen fanfiction, usually in a fairly dubious tone of voice?  I get that question all the time, so I have a host of different answers to it, and I thought I’d share some of them with you today.

My formal answer, suitable for interviews and giving talks, begins like this.  It’s because there aren’t enough books by Jane Austen.  Lately I’ve been reading some novels by Georgette Heyer that weren’t available when I first discovered her books.  I’ve been forcing myself to read them slowly, rationing them out instead of devouring them all at once because I know once I’m done with them, there won’t ever be any more new ones for me to enjoy. And she wrote over 50 books!

We’re in much worse straits with Jane Austen.  She only wrote six novels, and only one of them is about Darcy and Elizabeth.  When people ask me why I write Jane Austen fanfic – or sometimes, why I waste my time writing about Austen’s characters rather than creating my own – I tell them that if Jane Austen had been courteous enough to write a dozen books about Darcy and Elizabeth, I probably wouldn’t be writing mine.  But she didn’t, something I’m still perfectly capable of sulking about.  I mean, how dare she create such brilliant characters and then only write six books?  What a tease!

So that’s my current answer.  The truth is that there’s a multitude of reasons why I write Pride & Prejudice variations and adaptations. I enjoy the chance it gives me to delve deeper into Austen’s characters and the excuse to research life in the Regency.  One side benefit of writing JAFF has been the social aspects of online communities where I made many wonderful friends, and more recently, the opportunity to connect with readers of my books.  I love knowing that I have friends and acquaintances around the world now because of my writing, and  I probably would never have finished a story if there hadn’t been a group of online readers waiting for the next chapter.   

The next question is the easy one – do people really read these things?  We all know the answer to that is yes!  Then comes the discourse about why someone would want to read about Darcy and Elizabeth over and over and over again.  Again, I can list lots of reasons which basically come down to that it’s like reading a series or watching an ensemble TV show like NCIS or Bones.  You know the characters, you know basically what’s going to happen, but viewers love coming back to the familiar world and characters who have grown to be like friends.  It’s also social, because we can connect with other readers around our shared world, just like most people can engage in a discussion of Harry Potter with complete strangers. 

 But all this ignores the actual truth about why I do it, because outside our little Jane Austen universe, people don’t always understand this part.  I write Austen variations because it’s fun.  I read Austenesque novels because they’re fun.  What can be better than that?

Still, when people sound dubious about JAFF, I try to say, “Please don’t read my books, if this kind of thing isn’t your cup of tea.  I don’t expect everyone to like it, and that’s okay.”  To myself, I always add, “Of course, if you never try it, you’ll never know what you’re missing!”

I’d love to hear from you now.  Why do you read or write Austenesque novels?


  1. For me the first time I attempted to read one of Jane's novels it was simply because I kept hearing so much about them I decided to give it a try. I had a hard time sticking to it. So many years later a friend of mine had read them as well as many other classics and she started to convince me to give them another try. Well from that time on I was hooked.

    I think I was honestly a little more mature to appreciate it and it just takes me away to a different time an place. I am quite a lover of history in general and just adore a good love story.

    Thank you for the giveaway! I've done all of the additional chances posted above.


  2. I just love all of the possibilities that surround Darcy and Elizabeth. I love seeing what spin an author is going to put on the characters, which of Austen’s characteristics is the author going to focus on, how is this author going to portray Lady Catherine, what part is Wickham going to play, how are Mr. & Mrs. Bennet going to act and so on. I the possibilities are endless. I just love it. I also love to see what obstacles Darcy and Elizabeth will have to overcome in each new variation/adaptation.

    I Tweeted this
    I am friends with Barbara on FB
    I like Barbara's author FB page
    I follow Barbara on Twitter
    I like Abigail's author FB page and am friends with her on FB
    I follow AuAu FB & Twitter
    jakki36 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  3. Well, between Abigail and Jakki, they pretty much summed up why I love JAFF. It's fun (!) to imagine the characters' "off-stage" moments, or the unknown reasons behind their actions, or their life after the HEA (like when Lizzy finds out Darcy snores or he discovers she has monster PMS lol). It's amazing to me how authors can take the characters to so many different places and still stay true to how Austen wrote them. Abigail's books plunged me head-first into reading JAFF so I'm grateful to her. To think what I was missing all those years!

    I tweeted: http://twitter.com/jaffobsession/status/166980858291564546

    I follow Barb and Abigail on twitter, and follow Darcyholic Diversions.

  4. I don't write but read and "scribble" about Austenesque novels. They are my escape into peace and beauty, lightness and romance. They help me to dream away when reality turns too ...heavy.
    Congratulations to Barbara on her young but promising blog and to Abigail on the release of a new delightful Austenesque novel!

    1. Maria: Thanks for your kind words about my blog! You being a ‘blog master’ and all...LOL. I am looking forward to YOUR post coming up soon!


  5. I read many of P&P variations : I had some fun ! One of the part of dream in those novels is the language so polite but which can show so many feelings
    What an excellent word : darcyholic ! I could use it to describe me !!!

  6. I think Maria Grazia puts it very well - "They help me to dream away when reality turns too ...heavy." I've gotten many emails from readers who say my books helped them through difficult times, which is probably my favorite compliment, since I'm so glad if my books can lighten someone else's load for a few hours. And it's fun ;).

    1. Why I read Jane Austen sequels?
      Because it is where I can loose myself in the language and the story og handsome/arrogant Darcy and witty/beautiful Elizabeth, and dream that reality is this like that world when things turns out to be too heavy!
      And I write and read JAFF because it is fun and helps you to get friends from other parts of the world, and because its fun to hear what people think of your ideas.
      Now...a Pride&Prejudice book is constantly in my bag. Now I better get my hands on your new book, Abigail. Again thanks for critic and compliments on my JAFF story last summer.

      hugs and thanks

  7. I enjoyed your post and your answers to the questions. I'm looking forward to reading your adaptations.


  8. We all are Janeites, Jaff addicts, Austenites etc... because we are all OCD people. We obsess over the sameness, we like the sameness, and we write about the sameness. It comforts us.

    They don't make fun of Star Treks people. Wait, I do.

    1. Hmmmm...Nina... I think I did that too in my latest upcoming book...LOL...the making fun of Star Trek people that is..

  9. Abigail:

    I wanted to make my own comment. I really enjoyed your post. The idea of SO few choices when it comes to Austen’s works and NEEDING more to read as an explanation to those who don’t understand is great!

    My husband, when he tried to ‘define’ my writing to someone else says, "Well, imagine 'The Godfather'. What if you decided to write another version where instead of Luca Brazi swims with the fishes, he opens his restaurant. That is kind of what Barbara does with ‘Pride and Prejudice’.”

    I was also interested when you mentioned NCIS as I love that show. I can watch the same episode over and over. I like their humor and the character development in the show. And honestly, I do not watch much TV. But that is also a good way of describing JAFF to someone.

    Thanks again for the guest post, and for your support.


    1. Barbara, I like what your husband says too. As to TV shows I watch a few, not on TV but online or on my DVR. TV now only on demand! I love NCIS and Bones both. I have to admit that I love Bones the most because of the couple Seely Booth & Temperance Brennan. I would love to write a crossover because they would be perfect as Darcy & Elizabeth. You have to check it out.

  10. Hi Abigail! I enjoy reading JAFF because I absolutely love that handsome, arrogant, and loveable Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and the witty, lovely, and lively Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Oh yes...and all the other crazy characters!
    I love your stories and have read them many times. When I really need to escape...I escape to the world of Darcy and Lizzy!

    Thanks so much for your stories Abigail!

  11. I read Austenesque novels because I love finding out how the original characters in Austen's novels fare with time. My favourite is the what-ifs type of novels.

  12. Abigail,

    I've never been asked why I read JAFF because so far the ones that know also read the same books but I am glad you prepared me for it. I do tell people about JASNA and dressing in Regency and if they have questions they keep to themselves. The nurses I work with just smile or look at me with a blank face and I just walk away. If they ever bother to ask I will bother to answer.

    If I were to explain I tell Jane Austen's world is my "happy place". I heard this expression on Friends! It was Phoebe's line. She told someone to go to their happy place (in their head) whenever they were going through someone tough stuff. That's my why. In Austenland, all is well and Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth always get their happy end no matter how much they have to overcome. It is a purer world with established conventions giving little room for stress (except for unrequitted love or misentailed* inheritances...).

    After 9/11 everyone turned to tv shows like Friends because they wanted comfort as "sameness" to feel safe again. Austen is a lot like it.

    Rita (twitted, reshared, etc. etc.)

    *I apologized for the neologism but it sounded so good not to exist...and according to webster.com it does not! LOL.

    1. Barbara, sorry my comment was so long! I always get carried away...

  13. I love the whole Darcy and Elizabeth thing. Their relationship and the fact that they both want goodness for those around them is what I like. You can mess with any character you want to when it comes to JAFF but not D&E. They are perfect for one another and that's why it works. It's what a marriage of 2 people should be.

  14. When I read the JAFF books it is an escape to the Regency world of Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy and Lizzy, the propriety of that world and the beautiful language of the time. I love being transported to that world and being able to immerse myself in it, forgetting the worries of the day. Besides, what woman in her right mind, would not desire to be be loved the way Darcy loved Elizabeth? I can't imagine one! It is a beautiful story with a wonderful hero and heroine. I love all of dear Jane's books but Pride and Prejudice will always be my favorite. All the JAFF books fulfill our need to know more about our favorite characters and I, for one, am very thankful that they exist! Thank you to all the authors! When I don't have one of the books to read, I feel like something is amiss, so I pick up one I have read and reread it! It's like Barbara said, I can watch the same rerun of NCIS over and over again, almost like I've never seen it before. I can do the same with most of the JAFF books that I have read. I never tire of reading about Darcy and Lizzy. I hope you all continue to write for a long time. Enjoyed your post, Abigail.

  15. Great post, Abigail! And yes, I recognize that dubious tone you mentioned. Perhaps that's why I am particular about sharing my obsession with people in real life. I've received too many raised eyebrows and odd looks. It just makes me appreciate the world we share online among the privileged readers and writers who are truly in the know!

  16. I wonder what Regency romance novels would be like today if Jane Austen had been a more prolific author. As many others have already said, I read JAFF because there is not enough original JA for me. JAFF can be a bit like watching a soap opera - tune in weekly (or more often, if you're lucky) for the latest episode. Sometimes you discover an author you haven't read before and have the treat of reading an entire story in one sitting. I read my first story by Abigail in weekly installments, but got to enjoy several of her older stories in one fell swoop.
    The only thing I hate about JAFF is when an author of an interesting and promising story abandons it part way through - if I had enough imagination, I'd make up my own endings, but sadly, that's not one of my skills.

  17. I think, in a way, Jane did all of us a favour.

    I wanted to write, but thought myself not good enough. Her lack of quantity, as far as Darcy and Elizabeth writings, has given many of us wings of imagination.

    For the readers among us ... well, that goes without saying.

  18. Abigail,

    It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who gets those questions in that tone. I absolutely LOVE the TV series answer - hope you don't mind if I quote you on that. It is something that everyone can understand. Love your books!