Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome back, Janet Mullany!

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?


Anna Campbell said...

Ha ha, come to me, Golden One!

Janet, welcome back to the lair! Lovely to see you! Wow, this sounds wild! Congratulations on your newest release!

Daz said...

Well done, Anna. Quick off the mark today. A bit wet for the rooster though down your neck of the woods, isn't it? We're having a lovely, sun shiny Spring day.

Daz said...

I love Jane Austen and I love the paranormal. I remember a time when Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake was one of the few paranormal offerings and I loved them though now I've gotten off that particular series. So, to answer the question, I love the idea of Jane Austen and the paranormal combined. I've been seeing "Jane and the Damned" as well as the anthology "Bespelling Jane Austen" being reviewed and talked about and have been looking forward to them being released. Definitely something for me to add to my ever growing TBR (virtual - I read mostly eBooks now 'cos I've just run out of shelf space!) pile and wish list.

Sheree said...

Congrats on your new release! Or is that releases?

I don't know; I'm on the fence about this one. It's one thing to give Jane Austen's books vampires and zombies but Jane herself? Still, I'm open to find out more.

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha, Janet and Christie! I would invite Jane and the Damned to Hawaii, but they'd have a hard time with the perpetual sunlight!

Like Christy, I dropped my jaw for a nanosecond when Janet shared her idea about Jane with fangs. But I knew if anyone could do it, it would be Janet!

If it becomes an audio book, Janet must read it because her accent would enhance the hearing pleasure!

Helen said...

Well done Anna what are you getting him to do today?

Hi Janet and it is good to see you back in the lair thanks Christie for inviting Janet.

I too have been noting all the reviews about both of these books and I think I might enjoy them for something a bit different.

Congrats on the release

Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Janet! *waving* Great to see you back in the Lair!

Kudos for you for taking such an unusual approach to the call for a paranormal! And for having the courage of your convictions to not only write it, but get your editor on board with it!

I must admit, my first reaction was unsure - there are so many P&P and other variables on Jane Austen's books, most of which I ignore. Though I LOVE the Mr and Mrs Darcy mysteries by Carrie Bebris. Plus I'm not the greatest of fans of vampires.

Having read your description of it, though, I'm intrigued. Of course, as it's you and I really enjoy your books, that gives it a big boost too. So, I may just give it a try!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Anna, congrats on grabbing the GR. Although, I'm noticing a trend. Perhaps he likes your spring weather better than our chilly fall weather.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Daz, I love the paranormal romances too. I haven't read Jane yet but I'm looking forward to it!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Sheree! I haven't read any of the books with Jane Austen and other paranormal creatures yet. I'm rather intrigued by the idea.

Christie Kelley said...

Kim in Hawaii said...
If it becomes an audio book, Janet must read it because her accent would enhance the hearing pleasure!

You're so right, Kim! She would do an awesome job as the narrator.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Helen,

I think I would enjoy some of these books too. I think I'll put Jane up next in the TBR pile.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Anna, I don't mind an occasional vampire or too. I'm still thinking Jane as a vampire it sacrilegious :)

Minna said...

Sounds like an interesting idea!

I'm too sexy for my shirt, Mr. Darcy edition!

Love Song For A Vampire

Janet Mullany said...

You put me to shame, ladies. This is my sleeping in day and I get up to find that not only has the Golden Rooster crowed (congrats, Anna, enjoy today's cock) but you've all been talking!

@Daz, both books are available as e-books. I'm holding off on buying an e-reader until they develop the waterproof model for bathtime reading.

@Sheree, I was a bit nervous about writing Austen as a vampire, too. I mean, it's Jane Austen, yikes. I went to my local JASNA meeting yesterday, though, and offered a gift basket as a door prize and they were all tremendously excited about it, once they'd got over the initial shock.

Janet Mullany said...

Hi @Helen, @Sheree, big aloha @Kim, hi @Anna. Starting another message to avoid heavenly lengths as someone once said about Schubert (they were talking about his music).

The book isn't a monster mash like P&P&Zombies which I've read and quite enjoyed; it's a one joke book, but pretty good for all that. But there are scenes that Jane used later and if you know the books you'll recognize them. It's set in 1797 so she'd written her first versions of S&S and P&P, plus all the other bits and pieces.

The best approach to it is to think of it as a vampire adventure starring JA rather than the other way round.

Gillian Layne said...

I love it! And I think Jane would have loved the idea of herself as someone so powerful, too. But I read all things vamp, and of course love Jane, so the two together totally work for me.

The thought of vamps as the good guys against the invading French is very clever.

Daz said...

Janet, my poppy got himself a waterproof case for his Kindle. He sat in the pool to read and fell asleep while his Kindle floated away. All was well with the Kindle, protected by the case. You should definitely consider it. It will change your world.

Margay said...

I'm not sure how I feel about Austen turning into a vamp - I think I have to reserve judgment until after I read the book. But I love Janet's books, so I will give it a try for her!


Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Mullany said...

Naturally I forgot to mention the book trailer in the interview--Minna reminded me--you can see it on my website, where there is also a fab contest.

@Gillian, you're absolutely right about the power Jane, or any other woman of her times, would have as a vampire. Of course the trouble is she has to give up so much as a human.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Janet, welcome back to the Lair, vamps and all. What a great concept to turn Austen into a vampire. She did after all (pardon the pun) bite away at the edges of her own society's mores.

EMMA is also my favorite Austen novel, too, but Mansfield Park, not so much. From the sound of it, I think Jane would've gotten a hoot out of your novel.

Danielle Gorman said...

I love both Jane Austen and paranormals so I think it's great! I can't wait to read this. It's been on my TBR list for sometime now. Congrats on the release.

catslady said...

Why not? I have just recently discovered that there are all these variations of P&P. I love variety and this sounds like a totally different take on such a classic.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Janet! *Waving madly*

Janet is my fellow MRW member. Grins. Glad to have you with us Janet!

I've been hearing about this book. Grins. LOVE it! :> I'm with Daz, gotta add it to the ever-growing TBR list.

Thanks for being with us today!

Nancy said...

Anna, you have the wily bird. I hope you'll make him work for his Tim Tams.

Janet, welcome back! Jane Austen as a vampire, eh? She was such an observer of manners, I wonder what she thinks of vampire manners? What's the proper way for a vampire pay a morning call? In the evening, presumably, but what would the rules be? I'll be you had a lot of fun with this.

Nancy said...

Jo and Janet, I have to confess that I have never actually read Austen (ducks flying tomes). Really. I tried P&P in high school, didn't warm to the voice, and set it aside. What with one thing and another, I just never got back to her.

I've seen several of the movies, though. Does that count?

Louisa Cornell said...

Aha !! Good on you, La Campbell !! You and the GR can stay indoors and tell each other ghost stories on this rainy morning or evening or whatever it is in Oz at the moment!

I have to agree with Kim in Hawaii, if ANYONE can pull off Jane Austen as a vampire it has to be Janet! I am so looking forward to reading this book.

Somehow I think Jane Austen, with her keen skills of observation would make a formidable vampire queen.

Barbara E. said...

I think turning Jane Austin into a vampire is wonderful, sounds like a lot of fun and a great story. I'm looking forward to reading Jane and the Damned as well as the anthology Bespelling Jane Austen.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Nancy,

The A&E production of P&P is a nearly word-for-word perfect translation of the book. I used to show it to my seniors after the read it for their summer reading program. It's a great one. Many of the others are streamlined for television for the big screen.

Plus, Colin Firth makes such a wonderful Darcy!

Dianna Love said...

Good get Anna! GR is really struttin' over the star treatment this week.

Hi Janet - It was so great to see you in NY last week at Lady Jane's Salon. We were hooting over the part you read! Love your take on Austen.

Janet Mullany said...

It's great how much you talk here! Love it!

Whew, I've just finished a short story and sent it in so I'm taking a break for a few minutes with you guys.

Hi @Gillian, and @Margay, thanks for taking the risk.

@Jo, give Mansfield Park another try. It's best if you go into it not thinking about Austen's other books b/c it is such an anomoly.

Hi @catslady and @Danielle and waving madly back @Duchess.

@Nancy, the Damned are very mannerly creatures with all sorts of etiquette rules. They were a lot of fun to write. And do give Austen another chance; once you accustom yourself to the language, you'll have fun. I suggest Northanger Abbey as a good starter book. It's a spoof of horrid novels by writers like Mrs. Radcliffe but even if you don't know that it's still a lot of fun. And the hero is a fabulous metrosexual beta male.

Hi again @Louise--I keep bumping into you! And hello @Barbara, thanks for coming by.

I think that's everyone as of 3:30 est!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually it's a beautiful day here today after all our flooding rain. Apparently a VERY wet summer is forecast. The rooster might prefer winter up north! I've got him outside scratching at the multifarious weeds that have cropped up with all the weather. I told him there's a crock of gold under one of the dandelions. Silly chook believed me!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Janet!

We met at the Beau Monde affair in Orlando. Glad to see you in the lair.

This sounds like a hoot! Love it. Jane Austen with a Bite. Does it bother me that Jane Austen is suddenly in the company of vampires, zoobies, and sexy interfering time-travelors? Not really. Actually, I suppose my reaction is - wish I had thought of it (grin). But I'm more than happy to read Janet's witty take on Janet and the Damned.

Christie Kelley said...

Gillian, I think you're right that Jane would be pleased about being such a powerful creature.

Christie Kelley said...

Margay, if anyone can turn Jane into a vampire, it's Janet!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Kirsten, I think anyone who enjoys both historicals and paranormals would enjoy this one!

Christie Kelley said...

jo robertson said...

She did after all (pardon the pun) bite away at the edges of her own society's mores.

Not so sure we can ignore that pun :)

Christie Kelley said...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Janet! *Waving madly*

Janet is my fellow MRW member. Grins. Glad to have you with us Janet!

Really? Did you sneak into MRW when I wasn't looking? LOL...

Cassondra said...

Hi Janet,

Welcome back to the lair!

Actually, to answer your question, I love this idea. I think I like it because it's so rebellious. I tend to fly in the face of nazis of any sort. I see language as a malleable, ever-changing form, for instance, and get really amused at those who want it to remain fixed in concrete forever, stopped at (insert time period here) which is, of course, *cough cough* the only PROPER way (I'm trying hard to not roll my eyes.) and no matter how difficult it is to make fit the point of view, or how it throws the reader out of the story, will not bend for the sake of the practical. I guess it's a matter of priorities. Mine is story and the reader.

As long as people are very clear that they're taking someone's work and jumping off to go a whole new direction, I think it's brilliant to take the classic and turn it on its (perhaps) stodgy head. I'm just awful that way. :0/

I love the premise of this, and although I'm NOT quite the Jane Austen fan you are, I have to think she'd find it flattering that you've done this. She was an innovator after all, and ahead of her time. Looks to me like the two of you are kindred spirits in that way.

Christie, thanks for bringing Janet, and her lovely new story, back to us!

Cassondra said...

Wooot Fo!

You got the bird!

Pat Cochran said...

I think it's hilarious! The ever
proper and polite Miss Austen as
a vampire! Why not? After all, it
is a literary product, born of Ms.
Mullaney's outstanding intellectual
capabilities! It's also another addition to my TBR list!

Congrats, Anna, on acquiring the
Golden One!

Pat Cochran

aarbaugh said...

Janet - your book sounds very interesting. I'll have to pick up a copy real soon.

Janet Mullany said...

I'm back, and thanks to Christie for holding the fort after her busy day and while I was doing various boring things around the house.

@Jo, one thing I wanted to say was that I agree the A&E script was outstanding, as was the S&S script by Emma Thompson. But what you miss on screen/tv adaptations is Austen's narrative, her sly asides and irony.

@Dianna, it was so great to see you at Lady Jane's, too--I met up with a lot of old friends and some new ones there too. It was a tremendous evening.

@Donna, good to "see" you again!

@Cassondra, I think Austen would have been amused that her books have had so many spin offs and are still being read. And not being afraid of innovation herself (as in Mansfield Park) I think she'd enjoy the spinoffs too, so long as they were done well.

@Pat, I'm not so sure about the ever proper and polite Miss Austen. Austen suffered a major clean up of her image via the memoirs of her nieces and nephews, staunch Victorians all. So the occasional snipe or references to unladylike behavior such as being drunk, or mentioning gentlemen's mistresses etc. in the letters are delightfully rewarding.

Her sister Cassandra destroyed quite a few of the letters and cut bits out of them after Jane's death. Of course it's very tempting to imagine she was destroying the evidence of a hot love affair but more likely it was Jane being mean about family members!

MsHellion said...

I'm less shocked Jane's a vampire than Abe Lincoln is a vampire slayer. And I'm far more likely to read the Jane one...much more fun!

I'm going to go re-investigate Mansfield Park. :)

SiNn said...

honetsly i must confes si never really read any of jane austins books but her as avakmp would be awesome simply because i have seen some of the movies lol her creativity was astounding as a vamp shed rock