Shannon Winslow Interviewed by Sir William Collins
(Fourth In the Series)
By Shannon Winslow
Celebrating Shannon Winslow's New Devotional!
It is a big treat to have Shannon Winslow with us today! This Cyber Holiday week, it is wonderful to know about a very special Christmas gift you might want to get for your JAFF friends and family! Prayer and Praise: A Jane Austen Devotional is an inspired treasure by Shannon Winslow. I am very grateful to have my own signed copy to treasure and use in my own daily devotionals!
PS--Be sure to check out previous Mr. Collins and Shannon Winslow Interviews here:
It has become something of a tradition that, with the publication of a new book, I sit down for an interview with Mr. Collins (now Sir William Collins). Did you know that, after his run as a legendary literary figure, he turned his talents to a new career as a talk-show host? It’s true. But he and I have not always been on the best of terms, I’m sorry to say. The awkwardness stems from the fact that I made his early demise my first priority as a writer. In fact, Mr. Collins expired in the very first chapter of my first novel (The Darcys of Pemberley). I’m afraid he has never quite forgiven me for that, as you may be able to tell from the tone of our recent interview:
Sir William Collins returns to the set to commence his weekly Meet the Author segment. At the stage manager’s cue, Collins politely addresses today’s guest: the modestly successful author of Austenesque fiction, Shannon Winslow [seated]. Collins smiles a bit stiffly and extends a limp hand to her for the obligatory shake. Then, nodding several times to the camera and studio audience, he basks in their ‘spontaneous’ applause before taking the chair opposite his guest.
Collins: We meet again, Ms. Winslow. And I see there is a new book. [He holds up a pristine copy of “Prayer & Praise: a Jane Austen Devotional” for the audience to view] A devotional inspired by Jane Austen’s prayers? That is a bit of a departure for you, is it not?
Winslow: Yes! My first non-fiction piece. I’m very pleased about the way it turned out and excited to share it with readers. I hope they will find it uplifting and helpful in some way. Have you read it yet? Considering your former profession, Sir, I should think a devotional would be right in your line.
Collins: Sorry, I have left all that behind me. And as a celebrity, my time is in great demand – something I daresay you would know little about. But I will ask the questions, Mrs. Winslow, if you don’t mind. The first is, what made you think you had any business attempting such a thing? What are your qualifications? As far as I know, you have not received a doctorate degree in theology since last we met.
Winslow: You are quite correct about that, Sir William. But the scriptures are open to us all, are they not? And you are well aware of my credentials as relates to the study of Austen’s works. This project simply gave me an opportunity to combine two of my prime interests. [Receiving no immediate response to this, Ms. Winslow continues] I don’t mean to imply that my efforts rise to the level of works of true scholarship, not like Fordyce’s Sermons that you used to be so fond of… [Collins interrupts]
Collins: Oh! Fordyce’s Sermons! Yes, now there is a fine volume of instruction on all things moral. Do you presume to likewise tell your readers the difference between right and wrong, Ms. Winslow?
Winslow: Surely that is God’s job; not mine, Sir William! As I said before, the scriptures are open for us all to read and learn from. I only undertook to give people something to think about – some helps, some encouragement, perhaps a little larger view of God and His love for us – through the use of situations and characters from Jane Austen’s novels. That is the most unique aspect of this devotional, I think. It was a rewarding challenge for me to discover unexpected illustrations for spiritual principles in the stories I love so much, especially Pride and Prejudice, my favorite.
Collins: That is no very remarkable distinction. Pride and Prejudice is everybody’s favorite, as it should be.
Winslow: I only mention it because of the title. [Winslow takes up the discarded devotional from the table between them, showing it to Collins and the camera in turn.] I can’t tell you how tickled I was when I realized the names of the two books could be abbreviated just the same! It’s Prayer and Praise: P&P. Do you see?
Collins: That is all very clever, I’m sure, Ms. Winslow. But what I want to know is which characters from Pride and Prejudice are included in your little devotional?
Winslow: Well, let’s see now. Um, Mr. Darcy, certainly, and Elizabeth. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. I remember mentioning your cousins Mary, Jane and Lydia as well. And there is one entire segment devoted to Lady Catherine. I know you would agree that she deserves nothing less. Now, who am I forgetting? [Shakes her head and shrugs] Anyway, as you know, Austen drew her characters so well – so very lifelike – that they would all make excellent illustrations for situations and issues people face, even today.
Collins: I’m afraid that does not quite answer my question.
Winslow: [With a flash in sudden recognition] Oh! Of course. Now I see what you’re driving at, Sir William. But surely there’s no need for dissembling, not between old acquaintances like us. You wish to know if you are in the book yourself. Isn’t that it? And perhaps what I say about your character?
Collins: Well… I must admit to having a certain curiosity. Who would not under similar circumstances?
Winslow: Quite right, Sir William. It’s only natural. So allow me to set your mind at rest at once by assuring you that I would never dream of omitting Mr. Collins! [chuckling] Who could resist the chance to point out your pompous… Oh, pardon me! What I meant to say is that the character of Mr. Collins is far too… too valuable an example to ignore. We can all learn something from him, I think it is safe to say.
Collins: [With a satisfied smile] Of course. I was sure of it. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? You doubtless feature some of my finer moments.
Winslow: Precisely! You remember that night at the Netherfield Ball, when you were so good as to take the trouble of introducing yourself to Mr. Darcy?
Collins: You found that particularly inspiring, did you?
Winslow: Oh, yes! And then, in another segment… Well, I don’t want to give away all my secrets. Let’s save the rest for when you actually read the book yourself, shall we?
Collins: Like a surprise, do you mean?
Winslow: Why not?
Collins: Hmm. I do not always enjoy your surprises, Ms. Winslow. I seem to recall a rather alarming one upon the occasion of our first interview together.
Winslow: Come now, Sir William, I thought we agreed we wouldn’t mention that old unpleasantness again. It is well behind us and best left there. As Elizabeth Bennet advised, let us think only of the past as its remembrance gives us pleasure.
Collins: Yes. [Pauses, looking dubious, then sighs] Well, perhaps that is the wisest course after all. [Turns to audience.] Please join me in thanking Ms. Winslow for once again gracing us with her… her somewhat controversial but always ‘interesting’ presence.
[The “Applause” sign flashes and the audience responds with enthusiasm, effectively bringing the awkward interview to a close.]
Did you know that Jane Austen wrote prayers in addition to her six classic novels? She was not only a woman of celebrated humor, intellect, and insight; she was a woman of faith.
Prayer & Praise is a treasure trove of thought-provoking messages inspired by the lines of Austen’s three preserved prayers. Atop a solid foundation of scripture, these 50 devotional segments (each finishing with prayer and praise) enlist familiar characters and situations from Austen novels to illustrate spiritual principles – in creative, often surprising, ways!
Which one of Austen’s characters developed a god complex? Who was really pulling Henry Crawford’s strings? Where do we see examples of true repentance, a redeemer at work, light overcoming darkness? With a Biblical perspec-tive, Austen’s beloved stories reveal new les-sons about life, truth, hope, and faith.