Once again I bid welcome to Cass Grafton & this time also Ada Bright, who together have written the lovely book called, “The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen”
Thank you ladies for being here on my blog! It is a pleasure!
So what made you both decide to write your book?
We’ve always enjoyed writing together, pretty much since we first met 14 years ago, whether it is fan fiction, blog posts or just joking around on a Forum. We’ve wanted to take that energy and turn it towards writing a novel together for years. Then one day an idea presented itself, and all we had to do was wait for the perfect timing for both of us to get to work on it!
Why Bath? How did you decide on Bath?
Ada: When co-writing, in particular co-writing with someone who lives half way across the globe from you, it is essential to have some sort of common experience to draw upon. In our case, we had been together in Bath for Cass’s birthday one year (we even stayed in the Royal Crescent).
Bath is such a distinctive city and small enough that I could really get a feel for it even in a short time. Cass had been many times, of course, so she could take point on what neighborhoods we wanted to deal with and things like that, but I could add my own true impressions and feelings about the city because we’d spent time there together.
Cass: Also, the idea for the story arose during a visit to Bath and was closely linked to Jane Austen and her residency in 4 Sydney Place, so it was a no-brainer in the end!
When it came to getting together to hammer out the plot and define our characters (the only time we did meet up in person during the whole writing of the book), we initially debated the pros and cons of my flying to LA or Ada coming to Switzerland. In the end, it just had to be Bath!
How did you decide on the ‘magical’ charm? Your Austen knowledge?
Cass: Most Jane Austen fans are familiar with the few items of jewellery known to have belonged to Jane and in particular the story behind the topaz crosses given to Cassandra and Jane by their brother, Charles. It seemed the obvious choice to create something inspired by these!
As a sailor, Charles had sailed to many far off places, and it felt fitting that the ‘magical charm’ had been placed on it in one of these!
I cannot help but ask, as I am sure I am not the only one who want to know, but any scoop on who inspired Dr. T?
Both: That would be telling! 😉 We want the readers to be able to form their own picture of what they think he looks like!
The thing is, you see, as a reader you use your imagination to picture characters based on the hints the writer gives you (if any! Jane Austen was notorious for giving very little).
Writers use all sorts of ways to picture the characters in books, but when you are co-writing, you both have to be able to picture the same thing! As a result, on this occasion, we decided we would pick actors who looked how we wanted our four leads to look. This was based just on how the actors look, we would stress, and not on any particular character they had played.
It helped us to be consistent if we referred to anything about their physical appearance, be it height, hair color or otherwise. It also meant we got to spend a very enjoyable afternoon in Bath ogling… er, carefully researching on Google Images!! 😉
The book was clearly inspired by the Jane Austen festival but was Morgan by any chance inspired by Ada, since she is from California?
Ada: Morgan is actually the personification of all the ways I have felt culturally different from the Brits in my friendships and encounters in the country. I love the British people, and they have been consistently lovely to me, so it cracks me up when something about the way I am (which is so normal for me in California) tickles their fancy.
There is no end to the joy it gives me to share my earthquake stories or – more often – how weird it is that their every thought in design or building isn’t first and foremost about earthquake preparedness. Crazy as it is, I actually crafted Morgan after one of my favorite actors who, ironically enough, is British.
How did Jane become the co-heroine alongside Rose?
Ada: Ha! Well – unintentionally is the word that that comes to mind! We had a lot of discussions about how difficult and intimidating it might be to write Jane and decided we should steer far clear of it. But she just wouldn’t cooperate.
Cass: Yes! We blame Jane! She was meant to be in the background, but a bit like the character Baby in Dirty Dancing, we found out nobody puts Jane Austen in a corner!
How many times have you and Ada visited Chawton? Both for research and pleasure?
Cass: I’ve been many times, usually for pleasure, and one of the best was when Ada and I went there for her first visit this summer! She and her husband came over for our launch party for the book’s release in Bath, and our first stop after meeting them at Heathrow was to travel to Hampshire!
As for research, let’s just say that might be next!
Luxury Lettings and James… Is he inspired by husbands/boyfriends or maybe even a best friend?
Ada: If Morgan is the symbol of the cultural things that make Californians Californians, James is the counterpoint – he’s my vision of how British people respond to me… I mean obviously they don’t all fall in love with me, but they are, sometimes against their will, usually pretty entertained by me! 😉
Cass: Choosing a holiday lettings company happened pretty naturally, simply because I stay in holiday apartments in Bath so often (several times a year). Of course, any experience I have is from a client’s perspective, and I’m pretty certain our interpretation of how it works from the office was a tad exaggerated!
There were definitely a few small elements of James’s personality at work that came from a former boss of mine, but I’m not saying which!
Can we as readers expect adventures in the 19th century with Jane?
Ada: *cough* Hey – look at that bird over there! I wonder what that bird’s name is. Like, not his species, but literally, what do his friends call him?
Cass: What an intriguing question! I can’t imagine why you might think that could happen… 😉
And lastly can we expect a Happily Ever After Ending for the main characters?
Ada: I certainly hope so!
Cass: Wait! You don’t think we gave them one?! Ada, seems we still have work to do!!