by Christie Kelley
I’m pleased to welcome back a favorite to the lair, Janet Mullany. I first met Janet at a Maryland Romance Writer’s meeting many years ago. Not long after that, she joined our critique group. So I now have the pleasure of seeing her every month.
After all these years, I didn’t think Janet could shock me any more, until she told me she was turning Jane Austen into a vampire. I have to admit, I my mouth may have gaped open for a bit.
Jane and the Damned is an October release from Avon. Welcome Janet!
What made you think to turn Jane Austen into a vampire?
My editor! She suggested I write something paranormal with Jane Austen but as soon as I started thinking about it, I realized I really wanted to turn Austen into a vamp--and a real one, not some sort of ladylike neutral vamp. I wanted her to be tough and subversive and dangerous, as well as being witty, because that's what I think Austen is beneath the veneer of politeness. I also loved the idea of an alternate history where the Damned are "out"--they are gorgeous and fashionable and scandalous, envied and adored by the ton. I had a lot of fun writing them.
Were you worried about what some of the Austen fans might think?
Yes and no. I think anyone who wouldn't like it would have the sense not to read it. The cover and backcover blurb really say it all. I was prepared for a certain amount of complaints regarding the creeping pervasiveness of popular culture into the sacred groves of Austen worship by people who'd rather eat their collected works whole than actually read my book.
Have you received any backlash from the Austen fans?
Not yet although I have noticed some women of a certain age armed with parasols lurking around the house. (As a woman of a certain age and a card-carrying member of JASNA I'm allowed to use the term.)
Did you have to do any special research for this book?
Quite a lot because it was set in the city of Bath, so I was juggling maps and trying to work out military stuff for the city (my conclusion was it was indefensible but an excellent place for dirty street fighting, which is what the Damned do). I also did some research on the Austen family and Jane's friends and there are cameo appearances of other real people. I like to think the book starts out as the Meryton assembly (from P&P where Darcy and Elizabeth meet for the first time) and then becomes every movie about the French resistance during World War II (except it's the English vampire resistance against the invading French!)--with biting.
Is this your first foray into paranormal romance?
I wrote a novella for an anthology headlined by Mary Balogh, Bespelling Jane Austen, where we all chose our favorite Austen and wrote a version with a paranormal twist. Mine was Emma, rewritten as a contemporary set in Washington DC where the heroine runs a paranormal dating agency. I wrote that before Jane and the Damned but it was published at the same time (out now!). Jane and the Damned isn't strictly speaking a romance although it has a love affair.
You're known as a writer of funny books. Is this one funny?
It has its moments but I actually found myself dwelling on the implications of immortality and what Jane--or anyone else--would have to give up for immortal life and love. So it's really a book about not being able to have everything, about sacrifice and choices and loss. (With biting.)
What is your favorite Austen novel?
It's a tie between Emma (which not many people like) which is so brilliantly plotted and complex, and Mansfield Park, which hardly anyone likes. I think Mansfield Park was Austen's great experiment; it's a very sexy book (really!) and, once you've got over how wimpy Fanny Price is, a tremendous read.
What's up next for you?
A second book about Jane and the Damned, which is set in Chawton in 1810, coming out sometime next year, and my last Little Black Dress Regency chicklit, Mr. Bishop and the Actress in March 2011. I also have the first of two contemporary erotic novels for Harlequin Spice next August, Tell Me More. So I'm busy!
Thanks for having me visit. It's always a pleasure to hang out with you all!
Janet is giving away a copy of Jane and the Damned to one lucky poster. So tell me, how do you feel about Jane Austen being turned into a fictional vampire?