Because Thursday was Thanksgiving, today we’ve decided to combine our end-of-month guest post with our Saturday Salon. And it’s perfect, because my guest today is Brenna Aubrey, who recently had her published fiction debut with “The Love Letter,” a short story in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. This seemed like the perfect time to talk about taking inspiration from the author who is arguably to thank for the entire genre of Regency romance: Jane Austen.
Ooh, and there’s a giveaway attached, so be sure to comment for your chance to win!
Brenna and I are good friends in real life, so I knew last year she’d entered the Jane Austen short story contest at Pemberley.com, for which the prize was a slot in this fabulous anthology. Bren, I still have the text saved in my phone, from when you wrote to tell me that your entry won. I was so excited for you, so I can only imagine how YOU must have felt!
Tessa, you are so sweet. I do remember it was pretty late so I didn’t want to call you, but you were one of the first people to find out (aside from the people I live with, that is). Because of the nature of the contest, I had to go roughly five months before I was at liberty to spread the news because the announcement was planned to tie in to the book release. That was an excruciating set of months, as you well know because you shared the frustration with me.
I know! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. But the wait was worth it in the end, right?
It’s all been a great experience! I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to share cover credit with the likes of Syrie James, Jo Beverly, Lauren Willig, just to name a few. All of them are such amazing authors and then there’s little ol’ me.
Now, now. Those authors are Ballroom Blog favorites and tremendous talents, but enough with the “little ol’me”! Your story had to rise above the scores of other entries. So Brenna, tell me — When it came to writing “The Love Letter,” just how and why did Jane make you do it?
Jane Austen has been a muse to me for many years. I never cease enjoying her books, crying with her heroines, swooning for her heroes and cursing at her villains. With Jane, I’ve walked down muddy lanes in Hertfordshire and danced at a ball in the pump room in Bath.
Persuasion, especially, has touched me time and time again. I love second chance stories and every time I read the famous letter from Wentworth to Anne, I am moved to tears. The letter is the first thing that popped into my mind when I was brainstorming ideas for a story to write for the contest..
I also know that the majority of Janeites are women (at least the most vocal and visible ones) and I was interested in investigating the possibilities of her work touching a man’s life and teaching him something about himself and his own heart based on what he’d read. This was my primary reason for the unusual choice of writing from a man’s first person point of view.
But Jane Austen’s work has touched so many people and so many modern authors trace the roots of their inspiration back to her. We’ve talked many times about and I know that Jane’s work holds a particular place in your own heart as well.
Absolutely. Several years ago, I started writing Austen-inspired fanfiction for online friends. That’s how I got my start at writing original historical romance. Jane Austen totally made me do it.
Okay, I have to admit… It might have been Darcy who made me do it. And here’s a key difference between us. I’ve always been
hot for er, inspired by Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and your favorite Austen hero is clearly Captain Wentworth of Persuasion. I’m amazed that we can still be friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d never throw Darcy out of my boudoir for eating crackers in bed. However, he just doesn’t have that… certain… je ne sais quoi that a certain erstwhile navy captain possesses. What’s Darcy’s big cachet?
You want me to list his many, many fine attributes?
- He’s refined, handsome, intelligent, and he has a sly wit.
- Though he can come off as aloof at parties, he does not prattle on like other young men do.
- When he makes a mistake, he’s (eventually) willing to admit it and correct it.
- He doesn’t wait around eight years to win the woman he loves! He sees an obstacle to winning his love (one named Wickham), he fixes it. And the managing old women involved can go sit on a pin.
- Ten thousand a year and Pemberley. ‘Nuff said.
So Darcy’s got a superior attitude, a huge bank account and a ginormous house. But Wentworth…
- HE’S a ship captain with gold epaulets and his closest friends are captains
- He didn’t inherit his money, he went out and commandeered it from the
- Spinsters sprint through the streets of Bath for him…
- He’s got a big, shiny sword.
And…Where other rich Regency dudes write letters explaining why they were so rude to the girl they love, Wentworth writes a love letter to make a woman turn into putty and swoon… and then agree to marry him!
To this, I will only add…
Darcy’s letter is longer.
What do you say, Ballroom denizens? Who is the more inspiring hero: Darcy or Wentworth? Has Jane Austen (or another favorite author) ever inspired you to take chances in real life?
One lucky commenter will win a copy of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It anthology, signed by Brenna!