So I recently realized it’s been just a little over two years since I published my first Austen inspired novel. Dear Miss Darcy and its UK companion edition certainly garnered some mixed reviews ( read as: ‘I loved this!’ vs. ‘I hate this with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns!’)
It’s been interesting to see some strong reactions to re-telling an Austen story, and I’m excited to be collaborating with Sarah Burgess once again, this time for a modern spin on Sense and Sensibility– my favorite of Austen’s books, in fact. We’re still in the editing phase, so the book could go a few different directions. Mostly, I’m torn about how much of the traditional tale stays intact for these modern characters in their Pittsburgh setting.
There’s so much diversity in the world of Austen authors. From werewolves and vampires, to zombies and Druid priestesses, the characters have played out their romances against a ton of colorful backdrops. I think it’s interesting when authors put the characters in a new world and toss some curve balls to see how they react– in Dear Miss Darcy, after all, we had the Darcy’s descendant living out her own love/hate romance as a newspaper advice columnist. The hero had a different reason from Austen’s for his rude demeanor, and the heroine was more like Emma than Lizzie Bennet, with her self-pride and her comedic tendency to self-destruct when made insecure.
Since I love seeing parallels between an original Austen tale and a reboot, I sometimes hesitate to move a story too far from the basic premise. I like to be able to recognize my favorite characters even if they’re transported to an alternate universe, and sometimes it seems more like an author is slapping the same names on a cast that’s completely different in every other respect.
Then again, I loved the unexpected twists and turns of the British mini series Lost In Austen. Even when the characters behaved out of character– and lots of them did!– the story kept me hooked. I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it, so I’ll just say that I truly couldn’t predict the end, and found myself surprised– but not upset– by some of the more radical changes to the classic tale.
What about you? I’d love to hear what other Austen readers prefer in a re-telling. Should a villain always stay a villain? Are you down with couples mixing and matching it different than before? Let us know what you think!
Laura Briggs graduated from a Missouri liberal arts college in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Her passion for reading has inspired her to become a freelance writer and novelist. Ms. Briggs enjoys dabbling in several fiction genres, including romance, mystery, and literary.
You can connect with Laura online on Facebook.