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Monday, 9 October 2017

ℚ♫ Jane Austen Lied to Me - Jeanette Watts

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Jane Austen Lied to Me (, Jeanette Watts, 205 pages), a Literary Humour novel.

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||


A very warm welcome back to Jeanette Watts; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

Here at BooksChatter we love music, so Jeanette Watts has shared with us some significant pieces of music from Jane Austen Lied to Me - enjoy!


What compelled you to write this particular story, Jane Austen Lied to Me?
"Perversity, I think! I'm usually a historic fiction writer. This new book, Jane Austen Lied to Me, is a modern satire set in any college campus in America, with a heroine who could be any American teenage girl. All the advice out there says stick to one genre. But then, I've never been good at following the rules. I had a story to tell, a character inside my brain, beating her fists on the inside of my skull, demanding to get out. So I let her out. If I hadn't, she'd still be in there, and I'd never get any sleep at night. The story is the most important thing, more important than the setting. And the story is just too modern to set anywhere back in time."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Every character I've ever written is a reflection of me. Never as a whole, but there always has to be some grain of truth that comes from inside the writer. Even my villains in my first two book are showing my perception and biases, even though their behaviors are not mine. I show them as villains because they are doing and saying things I disapprove of.

Jane Austen Lied to Me is as intensely personal as my other books. It's been a long time since I was 17, but I remember what it's like to be boy crazy, running on hormones, while trying to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up, and aware of the fact that I'm running out of time. I have to figure it out NOW. I don't have parents who run a nursing home, but I do have a close friend who does. And they wanted her to be a pharmacist.

Almost every person in the story is named for a close friend. Professor Jacobson and I went to graduate school together. (He's not a math professor, but he IS a professor.) Ken has been one of my dancers for something like 10 years. He really is engaged to a vivacious woman named Karla, who really does love her rum. Wendy isn't my sister, but she might as well be. David isn't my brother, he's a friend I've known since 2002 when we were in the Renaissance Festival together. (We fought a lot - but only because we were pirates doing stage combat in the Stunt Show and Chess Match.) Nathan and Natalie aren't twins in real life, but they're both good friends. And Natalie really is every bit as gorgeous as I describe her. Lastly, there really was a Lon the Floor Nerd. Freshman year in the dorm. In retrospect, I think he liked me. But he never asked me out. We just picked on each other a lot. He should have tried asking me out, I probably would have stopped picking on him. But then he would have had to stop picking on me."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book?
"How much research it takes to write a modern book! I'm used to writing historic fiction, as I mentioned. Of course that takes constant research. But now, even though I teach dancing at the college level, there are so many things I don't know about being a Freshman in 2017. I discuss things like underage drinking. The drinking age was just changing from 17 to 18 to 21 while I was in school; but after attending any number of 21st birthday celebrations, I wasn't sure how many kids are actually alcohol virgins on their birthday. I talk about science and math classes, but I was an English major. I took calculus in high school, but I haven't used it since then. The more I wrote, following where the characters were taking me, the more questions I needed to get answers to."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I love my book covers! My husband is a wonderful graphic artist and photographer. The model on the front cover is the Bunny who shows up in the middle of the book - the girl that gets asked out 6 times by 6 different guys just while trying to go get dinner and see a movie. I think I was the one who wanted the cover to depict a college girl with her laptop and coffee sitting in a library in a Regency dress. There were so many good shots from the photo shoot, it was hard to pick one! The back cover was my husband's concept. As soon as I brought up the topic of cover art, he said, "The back cover needs to be a broken teacup."

You would not believe how difficult it is to break a teacup just the right way! He wanted a cup with one large piece broken out of it. But if you take a hammer and try to crack out a piece of a teacup, you are going to get some interesting and varied results. Mostly NOT the sort you want, however. I think my husband finally chiseled out a piece with his Dremel tool to get precisely the look he wanted."
Why should we read Jane Austen Lied to Me and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"I've read and seen other modern twists on Jane's stories, like Bridget Jones' Diary and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Most of them work with Jane's material, but none of them question it. Why are we so attached to Jane's characters? And do they really play in a modern setting? I am the only person I know who has a certain admiration for Mrs. Bennett. We see her as sort of a mild villain, a hapless whiny character, or a hypochondriac. But just imagine if she had more than one career option in life. A Mrs. Bennett of today would be one kickass lawyer. She is very devious and she is very accurate at reading people. She has a certain amount of genius at making the most of what resources are available to her. She also had a very modern attitude towards sex. While her daughters prudishly insist that Lydia had to be married before she came home, Mrs. Bennett's admittedly selfish wish to see her daughter's wedding has a certain modern pragmatism, and a much more modern take on sex. So, you have sex THEN get married. So.....?

I've applied that same sort of questioning to all of Jane's heroes. Everyone loves Mr. Darcy, but would you, if you met him in real life? What about a real life Edward Ferrars? Would things go like the book with a real life Colonel Brandon or Edmund Bertram?"
Can you tell us something quirky about Jane Austen Lied to Me, its story and characters?
"Almost every character in the book is named for my friends! There are 20 people listed in the dedication that are all characters in the story. Certain characters weren't: the most obvious example is Darcy Fitzwilliam. I don't know any Darcys. But the book demanded a character named Darcy Fitzwilliam. Now, how closely each character resembles their namesake varies widely. Jen is almost nothing like the character I described, and on the flip side, I described Josie exactly like someone I know - but I changed the name. The original would find this portrait way too accurate. Most of the rest are somewhere in between. Professor Jacobson really is a very kind and caring guy, but he doesn't teach math. Natalie really is drop-dead gorgeous. But while Nathan looks like he could be her brother, he's not. They've just been friends forever."
Who would you recommend Jane Austen Lied to Me to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"You need to be familiar with Jane's works. I touch on most of them, I didn't do anything with Lady Susan. But if you haven't read them, or at least seen some adaptation of them, you're not going to get much out of this book. It's just a story about a college girl trying to find a boyfriend."
If you could / wished to turn Jane Austen Lied to Me into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Well, my favorite director of all time is Michael Curtiz. I'm not sure he'd consider doing a romantic comedy, though. Not his genre. But Frank Capra would know exactly what to do with this story! And I've already know the perfect actress to play the lead. Her name is Emily Walton, I saw her in an off-Broadway show, she's got this waifish college girl look and energy that will be perfect."
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
"Besides finding the time to get more writing done? Becoming better at marketing. I write entertaining books with memorable characters. I want to be spending time with them, and wallowing in the writing process. Finding out where these characters are going to take me. It's never where I expected to go, so it's always exciting. But why write if nobody is going to read the stories? 50% of the job of being a writer is being a marketing manager. Maintaining a webpage, maintaining a Facebook page, and a Twitter account, and an Instagram account. Finding new book fairs to go to. It takes a lot of time and attention. Which is challenging, when it's already hard enough to find the time and attention to give to the next book..."
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
"Well, I guess it qualifies as criticism that I had readers threaten to kill me if I didn't write a sequel... I'm not kidding. My first book, Wealth and Privilege, ends ambiguously. It's Schrodinger's cat... and we haven't opened the box yet. I love stories like Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind, and The Lady or the Tiger. Life doesn't tie everything up in a neat parcel, why should our fiction? Well, when some of my readers insisted I needed to write another book, I said "Margaret Mitchell never wrote another book after Gone With the Wind." One of them looked at me and said, "Margaret Mitchell got hit by a bus... YOU are writing another book!"

And if that isn't also the best compliment a writer can get, I don't know what is..."
What is in store next?
"I don't see any sequels to Jane Austen Lied to Me. It's a romantic comedy, like When Harry Met Sally or Pretty Woman or anything Meg Ryan starred in. They are fun, quick little stories. This is a fun, quick read, and I think it stands alone. Now I think I'd like to get back to writing historic fiction. After I finish moving to North Carolina. I'm going to attempt to take some time off to pack all my belongings in boxes, and unload them on the other end. Hopefully still intact."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better...Can you tell us about your hero or main influence?
"One of my heroes is David McCullough - I did get to meet him while he was on tour with his book on the Wright Brothers! Got to give him a copy of Wealth and Privilege, which ends in the Johnstown Flood. Mr. McCullough's first book was about the Johnstown Flood, and his book hugely influenced mine. I was in a tizzy for a week after meeting him.

But when you asked about meeting one's hero, the first thing that came to my mind is George Lucas. I am a huge Star Wars fan. I went to USC for my Master's Degree in Cinema, which is where George Lucas got his film degree. My classes were held in the George Lucas building. I worked in the study center on the first floor of the building. One Saturday while I was there, the word got out that George Lucas was going to be coming to campus! I spent the next three hours plastered to the window in hopes of seeing him walk by. I thought I did see him, my co-worker didn't think that the tall man with the thick wavy hair walking by was actually him. So, I might have seen him. Sadly, I didn't have the nerve to just run outside and ask. It would have been so easy; "excuse me, aren't you George Lucas?" If the man said no, I could just apologize for the mistaken identity. If he said yes, at least then I could have hopefully gotten to shake his hand."
Thank you for sharing both stories with us. The lesson is: Never miss an opportunity again! :-D

We hope you are having a great tour!

Jane Austen Lied to Me
Available NOW!

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3 comments:

  1. Good morning, and thank you for having me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. great interview! interesting to know the story behind the teacup and the names of your characters. I have only read Pride & Prejudice, guess I should read the others before taking a crack at this.

    ReplyDelete