Remember to read ALL of them and don't forget to comment! Comments are your entries to WIN those giveaways! There is also an update to the Decatur Book Festival Jane Austen:Then And Now tabs above. I hope you will take an opportunity to visit the overall event information and the FAQ. During the month of August we will be featuring many of the authors that are going to be at the event.
July 13--Meredith Esparanza
July 17--Lori Smith
July 24--Barbara Tiller Cole: Christmas in July
July 27--Amy Cecil
July 29--William Deresiewicz
July 31--Maria Grace
August 3--Wendi S.
August 5--Laura Dabundo
August 7--Moira B.
August 10--Barbara TC and the DBF
August 12--Cynthia Hensley
August 14--Colette Saucier
August 17--Regina Jeffers
August 21--Sally Smith O'Rourke
August 24--Amber Godat
November 2--Amy Patterson
November 13--Karen Doornebos
And Many more to come!
Comments on Marilyn's post will enter you into a drawing for one of 2 PDF copies of her romantic comedy ebook, ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE, to two random commenters -- open internationally; and into the monthly drawings here at Darcyholic Diversions. Entries will be based on comments on blog posts; but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post,
It Started in Freshman English
I wish I could say bells were ringing, announcing the significance of that 1981 autumn morning when I was to meet and fall in love with Mr. Darcy. But, in truth, the only bells I heard were in school, signaling the switching of classes, and the life-changing day I first encountered the works of Jane Austen seemed at the time to be absolutely, utterly, mind-numbingly…ordinary.
Picture me in English class, first semester of my freshman year in high school (it helps if you picture someone kind of geeky, who had frizzy hair, a perfect GPA and a nearly nonexistent fashion sense), sitting ahead of another classmate -- specifically, a smart-alecky guy I’d foolishly had a crush on that year. Our teacher distributed copies of the novel to each of us and I was, I’m embarrassed to admit now, not all that impressed with the general premise of the story. I’d heard rumblings about some book called Pride and Prejudice, but I was pretty vague on the particulars and not remotely convinced that I was going to like this classic tale any more than I had some of the school’s other literary offerings.
I’m happy to say that I was totally, completely and immediately proven wrong.
With a rather grudging attitude, I’d picked up the book that afternoon to start the day’s required reading…and found I couldn’t put it down. I read nearly half the novel in just the first 24 hours, and I finished the book within days. At school the next week, I sidled up to our wonderful high-school librarian and requested more from that author please. By age 14, I’d already become an Austen addict.
My love affair with Jane and her writing didn’t end there, of course. I read all of her published books on my own that year and, later, went on to read some of her juvenilia and letters. Then I pored over the biographies about her life and watched with great interest (my husband would say “with obsession”) every version I could find of movies based on her novels.
When I was 16 and an exchange student in Brisbane, Australia, I made the happy discovery that their library had a VHS copy of the Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier version of P&P. I got to school early every day for a week just so I could watch it in segments before my classes started. And, ohhh, I loved seeing Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in those leading roles! Theirs had been the first film version I saw and I thought it was spectacular. (Colin and Matthew came along a number of years later but, of course, I adored their portrayals of Darcy, too!)
Fast-forward a decade: As a part-time grad student, who was teaching elementary kids full time, I incorporated some of my favorite Austen insights into my masters’ thesis and, when the opportunity arose for me to take a class on her work at Oxford University one summer, I saved up all year so I could do it. (One of my favorite classes ever, by the way! Our lady professor in England was fascinating and insightful, and she herself had studied under the legendary C.S. Lewis.)
Almost another decade later, at a writing conference in the summer of 2004, when a New York Times bestselling romance author asked which writer’s work I wished I could somehow merge with my own, my first and loudest answer was, of course, Jane Austen. And in that moment I got the idea for my fifth manuscript, which became my first published novel, According to Jane. A story that featured a brainy, geeky high-school girl -- very different in some ways from my younger self and, in other ways, not so different at all -- who was sitting ahead of the guy she had a crush on in English class, when the teacher passed out copies of P&P and her whole life changed. The voice of Austen herself came into the mind of my heroine and offered her the kind of dating advice and guidance I’d always daydreamed about receiving from my literary idol. Happy sigh.
That novel is partly an homage to Jane, partly a nod to the pop culture of my 1980s teen years and partly a girlish “what-if” fantasy that stemmed from decades of being in love with Mr. Darcy. Because, of course, who amongst us isn’t?!