Murder?! Said Mr. Collins
Shannon Winslow and Mr. Collins Traditional Book Release Interview for her latest novel!
(First of all, before the interview, I want to thank Shannon for visiting with Darcyholic Diversions today. I look forward to each of Mr. Collins interviews! The two of them visit with us here after each of Shannon's new book releases. Murder at Northanger Abbey has a fun, comedic flare--in addition to the traditional gothic creapiness--that I believe those of you who decide to widen your Jane Austen fan fiction genre by reading this sequel to Northanger Abbey will really enjoy! You won't be sorry if you do! Very happy to be a part of Shannon's blog tour! Good luck on your launch Shannon! BTC)
It has become something of a tradition that, with the publication of each 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 top priority as a writer. In fact, Mr. Collins expired in the very first chapter of my very 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:
[The Meet the Author set has undergone some changes since our last visit. Where before there had always been two chairs close together on the raised platform at center stage, now there is only one. The second has been repositioned approximately fifteen feet away on the floor level. Sir William Collins enters at the director’s cue, mounts the platform, and strikes a dignified pose. There is no live audience, and so canned applause is substituted, rising in an impressive crescendo.]
Collins: Thank you, thank you. No [motioning for the ‘audience’ to settle down], really, you are too kind. But now allow me to introduce today’s guest, somewhat renowned Austenesque author Shannon Winslow.
[More artificial applause. Winslow enters, looking uncharacteristically unsure of herself until Sir William points very emphatically to direct her away from himself and towards the distant second chair]
Collins: Please do be seated, Ms. Winslow.
Winslow: Certainly, Sir William. [They both sit] I see you have made some… some alterations since I was here last. I feel like I need to shout, you are so far away… and above me.
Collins: No need for that, madam. The microphones are perfectly adequate to the task. And we must abide by the current ‘social distancing’ requirements. You understand.
Winslow: Of course, except I thought that was only six feet. Well, regardless, thank you for having me. I am very glad to be here to share with… [she peers into the empty, blackened audience area] …to share with your viewers about my new novel Murder at Northanger Abbey. It’s a slightly spooky sequel to Jane Austen’s parody of the Gothic novel. All very tongue-in-cheek like the original.
Collins: Murder? So you’re up to it again.
Winslow: Again? No, actually this is the first time I’ve written a murder mystery. But it was great fun, and I certainly would not rule out the idea of doing it again!
Collins: You enjoyed it, did you?
Winslow: Yes, very much!
Collins: I suppose I should not be surprised. And if it were ever permissible to contradict a lady, I should beg to disagree with you on one point, Ms. Winslow; you have committed homicide before.
Winslow: What do you mean, sir? I’ve never written… Oh! Now I understand what you are driving at, Sir William. But that was an entirely different situation. Mr. Collins’s death was accidental, not at the hands of another. Choked on a mouthful of mutton, as you will recall. I wrote that you were hurrying your dinner to avoid being late for an appointment with Lady Catherine. She was always very strict about punctuality. No, contrariwise, the victim in this new book dies by violence, not accident.
Collins: [hand protectively at his throat and speaking with some difficulty] Choking was violent enough, Madam, I assure you! [shudders and then seems to regain his composure] Nevertheless, for the sake of my thousands and thousands of viewers, I might at least inquire how this poor fellow – your latest victim – meets his end.
Winslow: I could not possibly give that away! And who says it was a man at all. It might just as easily have been a woman, don’t you think?
Collins: Lord, have mercy! Is there no limit to the atrocities you are willing to commit?
Winslow: Why, Sir William, I am surprised at your being so squeamish! It is only a story after all. And when you think of a proper sequel to Northanger Abbey, there must be some kind of skullduggery – a stormy night, a masked ball at an ancient possibly-haunted house, strange noises are heard, the candles blow out, a blood curdling scream, and a body is discovered. Then it’s up to Catherine and Henry to solve the mystery. What could be better?
Collins: What happened to ‘they all lived happily ever after’? I thought that was your trademark, Ms. Winslow. It says here in my notes that your favorite Jane Austen quote is from Mansfield Park – Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery…
Winslow: …I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore every body, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest. Yes, that’s right. And don’t worry; everybody lives happily ever after at the end of Murder at Northanger Abbey. Well… not absolutely everybody, I suppose, but at least Catherine and Henry do. You can’t have 300 pages of that sort of thing, though, or there would be no story. There must be a good deal of mischief and trouble first before we can quit those subjects and restore our hero and heroine to tolerable comfort again. In this case, I might even go so far as to say ‘sublime comfort.’ The newlyweds are still in their honeymoon period, after all!
Collins: Honeymoon period? I hope you are not so indelicate as to refer to… to refer to… Some things are best left...
Winslow: Some things are best left to the imagination, yes. I quite agree, and I think I can set your mind at ease on that score. Much is implied in the book about the young couple’s love life, but there’s absolutely nothing graphic. It’s all innuendo. You know. Nod, nod, wink, wink, and say no more. Strictly PG. [pauses] But I see you are still uneasy, Sir William. Remember, Catherine and Henry ARE married, so therefore it natural to assume…
Collins: Ms. Winslow…
Winslow: That is to say, it is permissible, even in an Austen-style book to at least imply…
Collins: Ms. Winslow!
Collins: I’m afraid we are out of time.
Winslow: Already? Too bad, for I was enjoying myself immensely. Weren’t you?
Collins: Enjoying myself? Can you be serious, madam? I believe I would rather navigate an actual mine field than another interview with you. [grimly] It would be safer.
[Thus ends another colorful live Meet the Author segment. The director quickly cuts to one of those annoying car insurance commercials with the green lizzard. Meanwhile, Ms. Winslow is escorted from the set while Sir William Collins’s personal assistant rushes to his aid.]
Murder at Northanger Abbey
Sequel to Jane Austen’s Spoof on the Gothic Novel
Newly married to her beloved Henry, Catherine’s eyes are now open to the grownup pleasures of wedded life. Yet she still hasn’t quite given up her girlhood fascination with all things Gothic. When she first visited Northanger Abbey, she only imagined dreadful events had occurred there. This time the horror is all too real. There’s been a murder, and Henry has fallen under suspicion. Catherine is determined to clear her husband’s name, but at the same time, she’s afraid for her own safety, since there’s a very good chance the real murderer is still in the house.
This delightful sequel reprises the mischievous spirit of Austen’s original spoof on the Gothic novel, while giving Catherine a genuine murder mystery to unravel.